I will admit that riding fast on a motorcycle is much more enjoyable than riding along at a pace where the local squirrel wonders why you are falling behind. This “need-for-speed” is especially true on interstate highways where if you drive the speed limit, then you are repeatedly subjected to drivers who pass you and then pull in close enough for a real time mixing of the paint color from your front fender and the cars rear bumper.
The other danger of always riding within the legal limit is that large tractor trailers speed by you at ten to fifteen MPH over that limit and create a joyously, wonderful, buffeting wind which trails behind their rigs, and which teaches you all about how to counter steer in a manmade tornado.
Balancing this desire for speed are the occupants of cars with funny looking insignias on the side. These people are known as police officers and can usually be found sitting on the side of a road, right behind the crest of a hill or nestled into a cozy hiding place among the trees. Their location is meticulously selected so that it allows a radar pulse traveling from their vehicle at the speed of light to bounce off your vehicle and return to theirs about a half of a second before the “Oh shit” response can work its way from your cerebral cortex down to your mouth and then to your braking foot.
Based on my lead in to this post, it will probably not surprise you that the author got to meet an occupant of one of these cars a few weeks ago after enjoying the dazzling light show and ear splitting siren as she pulled me over right after I crested a hill. This event happened in one of my local towns where, in order to balance the local police budget, the speed limit is set so low that they fine the local dogs running after the squirrels.
Now like all speeders I was innocent even though strictly speaking I was guilty. And my attempts to explain that logic using non-linear algebra were greeted with the same enthusiasm by the officer as If I had been offering her a free root canal by going through the top of her head.
Her conclusion was that I was traveling 49MPH is a 25 MPH zone, where my conclusion, based on my GPS, was that I was traveling 38MPH in what I thought was a 35MPH zone: At least that is what I saw on the GPS screen when I looked at it a half second after my “Oh Sh--” response proved slower than the speed of light.
The paper she handed me right before she waved goodbye definitely favored her point of view, and her point of view resulted in a ticket for going 24MPH over the limit. More than 20MPH over the limit in the state of Virginia is defined as reckless driving, and you must appear in court.
I was angry at her listening to her point of view over mine until I got home and searched the Internet for the fine for my transgression. My anger turned to fear: Pure Fear.
Exceeding the speed limit by more than twenty miles per hour is a criminal offense punishable by up to a $3000 fine, loss of license and one year in jail.
Now my bank account couldn’t afford the fine; I didn’t want to be limited to riding my cycle around my driveway for the summer, and the one year in jail would have offered all those men who wink at my wife when she walks down the street an opportunity I did not want to give them, so I hired a lawyer.
After all that I’ve written so far, it’s not really possible to make a long story short, so I’ll cut to the chase. In front of the judge we split the difference between her 24MPH over the limit and my admitted 13MPH over. I paid the lawyer $1500, the court another $200 walked out a free man and expect that my car and motorcycle insurance will increase about $150/year for the next two years. A total bill of $2000, which of course proves that crime does not pay.
When we got back to my lawyers office he handed me a $300 rebate check. But he put a rider on it. I have to use it to take dance lessons with my wife at the local studio.
“Life is meant to dance,” he said, “not to worry about speeding tickets.”
He’s right, you know.