Haven't You Got Anything Better To Do?

Ticket Writer"Haven't you got anything better to do?" This was a question that I was asked often during my service as a constable in traffic law enforcement. I'm sure some of the drivers were just trying to needle me a bit in return for the ticket but most of them appeared to feel that sliding through a stop sign or doing a few kilometers per hour over the speed limit was trivial and should be ignored.

When you disobey the traffic rules over and over again and nothing bad happens it is easy to believe that there is no risk in those actions. If there is no risk then it is acceptable behaviour and may be considered normal. Some drivers leave it at that and some push their boundaries until they have pushed too far. The result in both cases is an increased risk of collision.

Spending any amount of time in traffic law enforcement soon teaches you that what drivers often consider to be a trivial violation will eventually result in some horrendous consequences. You experience this directly with every serious collision that you are called on to investigate. There is no doubt in my mind that this experience caused me to write a ticket when the driver was expecting a warning.

My job was to change the behaviour of the motoring public to conform to the traffic rules. I used many tools to attempt this including a web site, newspaper articles, radio spots, group talks and yes, warnings and tickets. After this if you still chose to go your own way then my response to this query should be "No, I've already tried by other means and haven't gotten through to you. Sign here please."

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Comments

More enforcement needed

Looks like you were a given the task where you would ultimately fail....unless of course the enforcement was merely a cash cow for the city you were working in. 

My overal impression is that there is NOT enough enforcement in BC. When there is, depending on how you look, how clever your argument was to the on duty officer, chances were good that you'd be let off with just a warning. Our drivers are terribly aggressive and break every rule in the book that I can see.

Having said that, the opposite is true in small towns like Blaine Washington. Those cops and city are very aggressive in nabbing Canadians. While you can see a vehicle with a US plate zipping by clearly going over the speed limit, h/she is ignored. However, if you're a Canadian buying groceries in your small town, and essentially keeping the town alive because you're spending your money there, that's not enough. The city and police want more from you. 

What happened a while ago when my friend and I went to Blaine to gas up, buy some groceries, and pickup a parcel. My friend works for the VPD. He still had his work ID on him. He warned me that their fines in the USA are heavy and you don't want a ticket here. Drive very carefully he says.

The irony of it all...we passed the border and my friend has been there over a hundred times. He was driving very slow and pointed out a few things of interest to me.  There was no traffic. Roads were bare, no pedestrians were around. Unfortunately, my friend unknowingly rolled past a stop sign that was partially covered by a tree. 

Before you can say Shazam, the Blaine Sheriff had his lights (not siren) on and my friend pulled over immedately. The officer just asked for his license and registration. My friend felt really bad when he got pulled over. He aplogized right away. But he didnt even acknowledge anything. My friend has a spotless driving record. After several minutes, the peace officer returned and gave him his ticket and we were on our way. There was know communication other than explaining what my friend's rights were. 

We went on our way. We picked up the parcel my friend had waiting. As we left the parcel location, not more than 5 minutes had gone by and we seen the police officer got someone else....another Canadian that was pulled over to the side.  We found out that the Blaine Police are zealously aggressive when it comes to nabbing Canadians. 

The next day, my friend paid the ticket like he should. He found out that there is an additional $10 service charge fee by paying by credit card. He could also pay the fine by mailorder and drop it off (outside in public fine boxes). You are not allowed to pay in person except on one day and between a very short period of time. A money order meanwhile costs less than a few dollars. However, dropping off the money order in the box has it's risks and the police department could easily say they didn't receive the fine just to add on the fees.

The violation stays on your US record for something like 7 years..but only on the city's website. Apparently, if you contest the ticket partly and miss time off work, and meet with the judge, you can reduce the time to just 2 years. There is no mention of that unless you research deeper in the City of Blaine's website. 

In otherwords, those citizens who are honest, admint fault, don't wish to take up the court's valuable time (and money) go ahead and pay their fine immediately get dinged with a 7 year record while those people who don't have to work for a living, end up being privileged than those honest law abiding citizens who realize they made a mistake and pay their dues. 

There is a diffence between unscrupulous means of getting city revenue vs actual behavioral retraining of personal driving habits. 

Will my friend shop in Blaine? Nope. He will bypass Blaine altogether and get his parcels in Point Roberts. The city needs to realize that they can't keep doing this.

In a way, the police and city operate kind of like the state of Kentucky many years ago. ABC's planted cameras all around their vehicle while driving in that state. They were wrongly pulled over and ticketed several times. The cameras from all angles clearly showed no violation occured as claimed by the Sheriff. Both the city and sheriff's office were in denial. It wasnt until a state senator was shown the video that he stepped in and did something about the corruption. 

Recently, I went to Blaine myself and seen they added a big flashing red light next to the stop sign where he allegedly rolled past the stop sign. I asked one of the locals about that. He said some Canadian challenged and sued successfully the City of Blaine. Hence the flashing red light. 

It is actually worse than you make it out to be

ICBC is now reponsible for driver training and ultimately for enforcement.

However they have abdicated their responsibility to the point where drivers in BC are very low-skilled, unaware of the basic rules, and largely unaccountable.

When I was learning to drive there were "traffic squads" on most lower mainlaind police departments, and they were large and active.

Now we rely on cameras to catch only the most obvious red-light violations.
Apart from speed traps, there are very few on-going enforcement campaigns.

Regards,
--BM

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