Saturday, June 03, 2006

Urban Law Enforcement Myths

Good morning.

Today, I would like to discuss some of the myths folks seem to have regarding various aspects of law and law enforcement.

Kings X: This myth is usually sprung on me by intoxicated drivers, although the occasional ticketable infraction pulls it out of the hat once in a while. The basics of the myth are simple: if you wind up with red-and-blue lights in your rear-view, if you can make it into your driveway, the nasty deputy sheriff isn't allowed to arrest you.

If I've had to chase your happy butt for any length of time, it might behoove you to park on the grass or other similarly soft surface, rather than on the gravel or concrete of your driveway.

A common variation to this myth is that if you lead LawDog on a four mile chase, pull into your driveway and sprint for the safety of the house, if you can shut the door in LawDog's face, he has to go get a warrant, which gives you time to either sober up, or pretend that the stress of the red-and-blue lights caused you to start knocking back vodka shots while LawDog was getting the warrant.

See: Pursuit, Hot. Also, by-the-by, Lowe's has a lovely selection of replacement doors.

I'm 18!: Very popular amongst High School students. The story is that on your 18th birthday, any traffic tickets earned prior to that salubrious date are torn up and do not have to be paid. Each time I've heard this one, the person telling me about it has: a) a sportscar purchased for them by Daddy; and b) something over a thousand dollars in traffic tickets.

No. The State of Texas does NOT tear up your unpaid traffic tickets on your 18th birthday.

Driving While Barefoot: I suspect this one is courtesy of various mamas out there. For the life of me, I can't find a Driving While Barefoot offense listed in the Traffic Code. And I've looked. Multiple times. So, no, we can't write you a ticket because you are driving without shoes on.

I would suggest that you listen to your mama, though. She has judicial powers far above anything a mere Justice of the Peace or city magistrate possesses.

The Miranda Pass: I blame this one on Hollywood. The myth states that if the arresting officer doesn't read you your Miranda rights as you are being arrested, then you have not been arrested and you have to be released.

Miranda rights involve interrogation, not arrest. There's a difference. Trust me.

The Mystical Cop-Repelling Attorney Phone Call: One of my personal favorites. It usually happens when I am advancing on someone with a big honking metal stick in my right paw and a pair of handcuffs in my left. The object of all this attention whips out a phone, hits speed-dial and then holds the phone out to me with the incantation: "My attorney wants to speak to you."

*scratch, scratch*

I'm not sure what effect this is supposed to have. If the waving of the Holy Object along with the speaking of the Magic Words is supposed to cause me to flee back to my lair beneath the Dunkin Do-nuts, I seem to be immune. Might be there's a secret cop-repelling phrase passed down to attorneys during the darkest nights of Law School, but since I refuse to speak on your phone during your arrest, I'll probably never know.

This myth is best attempted with a heavy-duty phone capable of withstanding the G-forces involved in being fast-pitched down the street.

Oy! You Can't Do That Here: Common myth, and the source of much amusement in cop circles. The myth is that State Police/Highway Patrol can only arrest or ticket on highways; city police can only arrest/ticket inside city limits, but not on highways passing through the city; and deputy sheriffs can only arrest/ticket outside city limits, but not on any highways.

As exemplified by the young gentleman who pulled up next to my marked squad-car while toking away on the single biggest torpedo I've seen in my entire career. Seems that since I was a Sheriff, and we were currently inside city limits, if I were to "hassle him" RE: the spliff, I would be violating his civil rights ... Hey! ... you can't do this ... my lawyer wants to talk to you ... HE DIDN'T READ ME MY RIGHTS!!

In Texas, Peace Officer commissions are good state-wide. Yes, the whole frickin' state.

LawDog

6 comments:

HollyB said...

LD,
Thanks for the laughs, as always. You are a never ending source of entertaining enlightenment {how's that for alliteration?}.
But is it an Urban myth that if you can make an LEO laugh enough when he lights you up that you stand a better chance of getting a warning?
It worked for me one balmy evening when I was flying under the radar, or so I thought, on my way home from Killeen. We laughed and chatted and I gave him your blog addy and I got off with a warning.
Lucky Me!
HollyB.

Citizen H said...

It needn't be added that berating a peace officer who pulls you over, threatening him with suits, or just general a$$holery in the presence of the cop who has you "dead to rights" in a traffic stop does not do you a single iota of good.

Spare the officer DOING HIS JOB the stupidity and take it up with the judge. In fact, save the judge the trouble and offer the officer the same respect you would the judge in the first place.

El Capitan said...

Unless you're a peace officer employed by a Texas University, in which case you're limited to the county (-ies) in which that University has facilities. In theory, their patrol area is limited to the University area, but in practice, those guys would get bored late at night and go looking for violators all the way to the city limits.

And yes, run-ins with the CamPos back in college are why I looked up the laws... They're good guys, just got bored at night. I authored a bill in Student Congress to issue them GameBoys, but it got quashed in committee.

jon said...

I feel for you guys when you have to deal with motorists. I have to deal with them on construction sites and know how being behind the wheel makes some ten feet tall and bulletproof.
They can't understand why you ruined their day by slowing them in traffic even though you have five miles of signs warning them of problems ahead.

There are times I wish I had pictures of some of the wrecks I've seen. I'd like to post the carnage on billboards.

Firehand said...

My dad was OK Highway Patrol for many years, and in cities near a military base ran into the "You can't chase me onto the base!" line.

Which led to the idiot blowing through the gate, sliding to a stop, jumping out and saying "You can't arrest me here!" Which was followed by an MP slapping a hand on his shoulder and saying "I can".

Anonymous said...

WEll, Lawdog, ummm, in Ohio, there IS alaw which states that you MUST have CLOSED BACK foot wear on to drive.....flipflops don't cut it.

Now, is this enforced??

Only if the driver has effectively ASKED for this kind of treatment....



On another note, how long doesa it take you and a couple buds to clear a restaurant?? My bride and I are sometime paramedics and we, when relaxing with our friends, can clear a restaurant in, oh, 10-15 minutes of just quietly AAR'ing......

shadowfane