by Celia Rivenbark
So apparently passing a highway patrolman who is stopped on the side of the road with his lights on is a big deal.
How big, you ask?
Well, in the great state of North Carolina, it’s $438 worth of big deal. Crappitydoodah.
Did you know that even if the officer is safely in his car, happily listening to Abba for all I know, you must veer left or reduce your speed?
You did? Oh.
For those who answered: “No” or, also acceptable, “Do what???” let me explain General Statute 20-157 (F) as written:
“You may not willfully operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway failing to move vehicle into a lane that is not the lane nearest the parked or standing authorized emergency vehicle and continue traveling in that lane until safely clear of the authorized emergency vehicle when an authorized emergency vehicle is parked or standing within 12 feet of a roadway and is giving a warning signal by appropriate light.”
Let the record show that somebody could use an editor. Surely, there is an easier way to say this. Allow me: “Get in the left lane or at least slow down if you are approaching a parked fire truck, cop car or ambulance with the lights on.” Better, right?
When pulled over, I once again remembered my friend’s nervousness in a similar situation and tried very hard not to say “Yes, your majesty” as I responded that he could in fact see my license. My lovely, unblemished FOR THIRTY FIVE YEARS driver’s license.
It didn’t help, perhaps, that I didn’t pull over immediately when I saw him behind me. The reason for this was that I was not speeding and had committed no crime (ha!) so was quite sure that the officer was just a little confused about his target. An honest mistake I told Duh, who had been sleeping peacefully in the passenger seat.
“Yeah, I think that’s a real law,” Duh said, nodding in agreement with the patrolman as he explained why he pulled me over. For a few seconds, I considered leaving Duh by the roadside so they could further discuss my lawlessness.
“Mayhaps a warning ticket kind sir?” Why does getting in trouble always make me sound like a dimwitted damsel in a romance novel?
Alas, it was not to be. The patrolman shoved an “I ain’t playin’”ticket through the window and I protested—in a small voice that I now recall as completely embarrassing—“but everybody else was doing it,” and he replied that he would get them, too. I saw, later on, that he was doing just that. Uh-oh. Snitches get stitches.