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Breaking the Law

Breaking the Law

When I looked in my rearview mirror and saw flashing lights, I wasn’t concerned. I did what law-abiding drivers do – I eased over to the side of the road so the officer could quickly proceed with pursuing a wily suspect. My mind concocted scenes from CSI, The Wire and Law and Order. Was it a jail break? Felony in progress? As I waited for the cruiser to pass, I realized it hadn’t. Another glance in the rearview revealed the spinning lights were sitting behind my truck.

The suspect was me.

When the officer got to my window, he asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “Yes, sir, I do,” I replied. “Because Older Boy is not in the car with me telling me everything I’m doing wrong while operating a motor vehicle in the State of Montana.”

That’s not exactly what I said, but it would have been true.

Ever since Older Boy completed Driver’s Education and received his Learner’s Permit, I’m rarely permitted to drive my truck. But on those infrequent occasions when I do and Older Boy is with me, he points out every single thing I’m doing wrong. It’s like having a newly minted graduate from State Trooper U, who is a stickler for details, riding shotgun. And with my every acceleration, stop and turn, he’s ready to throw the book at me. According to him, everything I do while operating a motor vehicle is a violation of some traffic law.

In the five minutes it takes to get to the high school, I can usually count on my personal audio version of the Montana Driver’s Manual pointing out a minimum of four infractions, usually starting before I get out of the driveway. “That’s not proper hand placement on the steering wheel,” he tells me. I typically commit a double violation with my first stop and subsequent right turn. “Stop BEHIND the stop sign, then you may proceed forward for better visibility before turning,” he admonishes me. “You’re not driving a SEMI, don’t swing wide on a right turn.” And then there’s the issue of speed. “You’re going 17,” he practically yells. “Does SCHOOL ZONE mean anything?”

If Older Boy were in charge, I’d be in the Big House before breakfast.

It doesn’t help to point out that in 34 years of driving, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been pulled over. And I don’t need any digits at all to count up how many tickets I’ve received while driving.

Older Boy is not impressed.

My first encounter with Johnny Law was actually in a School Zone, less than one week after assuming my duties as a prosecutor. On my third day of work, I was driving through a School Zone during the lunch hour at exactly 25mph.

Which was exactly 10 mph too fast. Because school zone speed limits in my new town were all day, a fact I was just about to learn.

Ignorance may be bliss but it was no excuse.

The officer got to my window and recognized me immediately. That’s because I’d just been introduced to him, along with every member of local and county law enforcement that very morning. The cops made me sit in the back of the squad car until an APB had reached every officer in the county regarding the identity of their wily suspect.

It would’ve gone much faster if they could’ve quit laughing.

So Montana law enforcement, fear not about my driving. Starsky’s got it covered until Little Brother, Hutch, gets his permit next year. After that, you won’t have to worry about me – because I’ll never get to drive my truck again.

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