By Jordan W. Charness
Ever since Peter’s 19-year-old son Don received a ticket for speeding over 50 km/h faster than the posted speed limit, he has been driving like a model citizen. Although he already has a full license, the 10-point ticket and $600 fine made a lasting impression on him. He knew that his father would take away his driving privileges if he received another ticket. In fact, his driving has become so slow and careful that his friends have taken to calling him Grandpa.
So, there he was driving down a crowded city street. He came to a stop sign and came to a complete stop. He looked both ways before proceeding carefully, checking to make sure that it was safe to do so. As he came to a red light, a girl in bright red Mustang convertible tried to push in ahead of him. He refused to move over. She gave him a nasty look and pulled in behind him.
Don noticed that there was a police car watching this entire exchange. The police car pulled in behind the Mustang and followed the two of them for the next five blocks. If Don’s stops were good before, they were now absolutely letter perfect. The girl in the bright red Mustang seemed to roll through a stop and Don was pretty pleased when he saw the police car turn on its lights and siren.
But he was absolutely shocked when he saw the policeman motioning for him to pull over completely ignoring the girl in the Mustang. He pulled over. The cop got out of his car and walked over to see Don. Don was perplexed: he had no idea what he could possibly have done wrong. The policeman asked him if he was old enough to drive!
You have to understand that Don is 6 foot 1, 19 years old, and has a reasonably full beard. He has been passing for 18 since he was about 14. Now tall, slim and good-looking, he really could see no reason for the police officer’s question. Nonetheless, he did the right thing and politely answered, “Of course I am. Want to see my driver’s licence?” “Have I done anything wrong?” He questioned the police officer.
“Is this car yours?” replied the cop, answering a question with a question.
“Actually, it’s my father’s,” Don replied.
The police officer took Don’s drivers licence, registration, and insurance papers to his squad car. He then spent the next 15 minutes talking to his partner in the car while Don sat in his car fuming. He then returned all the papers to Don and told him to drive carefully while wishing him a good day.
Stunned, Don drove away carefully all the while thinking that in some way he had just been racially profiled. But considering the fact that he is white and Canadian, he really did not know why he had been pulled over.
As a matter of fact, in most cases, the police can pull you over only if they have reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a crime or infraction. There are, however, some exceptions. In some jurisdictions the police are allowed to pull you over to check your licence and registration and to make sure that your paperwork is in order.
They will occasionally do this to young drivers even if it does seem unfair. In this case, since there was no ticket given and it only cost Don 15 minutes of his life, there was really not very much he could do about his treatment. Theoretically, he could file a complaint against the police but they really hadn’t done anything wrong in his jurisdiction.