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I usually drive the speed limit and am a safe driver. I have had one speeding ticket in my life which I got because I thought I was in a 65 mph zone and it was really only 55 mph. Northern Minnesota specializes in these kind of zones designed to catch the city drivers. I got caught and it was over 20 years ago. I paid the fine.
My youngest son was in the car with me and we had just dropped his older brother off at a YMCA Boundary Waters Camp. This came up last night because I was with my youngest and two of his friends and we got onto the subject of traffic stops. The city of Minneapolis had changed a yield sign to a stop sign and had a week’s grace period where they only wrote warning tickets. His friend John had seven warnings in three days. The record, if you were wondering was 22 warning tickets. Sometimes change is really hard.
When my son was 16 and had had his license for a couple of months, he got his first traffic stop. I had pointed out to him that I thought he was going too fast and he might want to check his speed. He told me to not mention it again as he knew how to drive. My sympathies go out to any parents of teenagers. It is so hard to reason with someone who knows it all. So, having spotted the police car in the side mirror, I shut up. When the lights and sirens came on I only said, “Be very polite to the officer and take whatever is coming to you. Don’t argue.”
My son tells the story exactly the same way. The officer peered into the car and asked if I was aware that my son was going too fast. I smiled and said I thought he should ask my son about that, but yes I knew. My son told the officer that he had told me he knew how to drive and did not appreciate the reminders from me. He said he was rethinking that idea.
The officer had my son get out of the car and as they were standing by the rear end with a dusty spare tire cover, the officer wrote two numbers in the dust. 375 and 62. He asked my son which number he would rather pay as a fine for speeding. Smart kid, my son picked the $62 fine. The officer told him he would write him a warning for going 8 miles over the limit. The $375 is what his actual, clocked speed of 78 in a 55 would have cost him. If he went a year with no more violations, he’d be home free. He also told him that sometimes listening to your mother was a good idea.
My son told this story last night to great laughter. He also “learned a cheap lesson.” I wish that every lesson our kids needed to learn was this easy.
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