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Unconstitutional Rewards:

The AP reports:

Motorists may be in for a surprise if they spot flashing red lights in their rearview mirrors in this Sacramento suburb [Rancho Cordova] during the holiday season.

Police are stopping law-abiding motorists and rewarding their good driving with $5 Starbucks gift cards.

A traffic officer came up with the idea to "promote the holiday spirit and enhance goodwill between the traffic unit and the motoring public," police Sgt. Tim Curran said....

Sweet, but unconstitutional, it seems to me. A police officer's flashing red lights at a driver, which causes the driver to support, constitutes a seizure — a situation "when the officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has in some way restrained the liberty of a citizen." Under the Fourth Amendment, such seizures must be reasonable, which generally means (for brief seizures) either that there's reasonable suspicion that the seized person has committed a crime (including a traffic infraction), or that there's some administrative need mandating a particular non-law-enforcement search or seizure system (such as airport screening). Neither is present here, so the stop violates the Fourth Amendment.

Plus, despite my first reaction above, it really isn't so sweet. A police officer is giving you a fright, taking up your time, and likely slowing down other drivers (who are concerned about safety, or who are stuck behind other drivers who are gawking).

As importantly, the police officer is exercising his coercive authority over you. That he's doing it to be nice doesn't change the fact that for the few moments that you're being pulled over, your liberty is being restrained, however briefly. Some such restraints on liberty have to be tolerated, but it seems to me that for each there should be a very good reason. A pat on the back does not, I think, qualify as a very good reason.

For a related story from five years ago, see here. Thanks to Bruce Moldovan for the pointer. Actually, sounds like the sort of thing they'd do in Moldova, not in the Land Of The Free ....

UPDATE: The winner is commenter WHOI Jacket: "When the police state comes to America, it will be holding a Double Mocha Latte."

Steve:
This is nothing more than the police interrupting your day to participate in a Starbucks promotion.

I don't know how much money Starbucks may have donated to the mayor's reelection fund, but they got their money's worth. This is ridiculous.
12.19.2007 12:33pm
tarheel:
What if the driver refuses to stop and just keeps driving, albeit below the speed limit? Has he committed an offense? Sounds like a law school exam hypo to me.
12.19.2007 12:33pm
tarheel:
Or what if he refuses to take the card and gets Tased by the cop? Kidding, kidding...
12.19.2007 12:34pm
Per Son:
tarheel:

Don't tase me bro!
12.19.2007 12:35pm
CEB:
I honestly can't figure out whether this is an innocent but extremely ill-conceived PR move, or a deliberately insidious means of stopping people without probable cause. I'm assuming anything discovered in a subsequent search (if the driver acts suspicious or smells like marijuana or whatever) of the car would be excluded, or at least would cause the state a lot of trouble in that regard. Has it ever been litigated?
12.19.2007 12:38pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
What if the driver refuses to stop? Can it be evading detention/failure to stop? What if the cop smells pot/alcohol when the "law-abiding" driver pulls over to be rewarded? What if the cop notices expired inspection tags on the car that he would not have noticed until he made the traffic stop? What if the police use "rewarding good drivers" as a pretext for making taffic stops? How can one decline to be pulled over if they don't want the reward? What if the police feel like "rewarding" african-americans far more frequently than whites? What if the driver starts to act "nervous" and the officer starts asking for consent to search the car?

They should also just record the license plate and send the $5 reward via mail (like they do with traffic tickets). No problems there.

I think it's a blatant 4th Amendment violation (unlawful seizure). The only problem is I fear within 2 years there will be a "rewarding good behavior" exception to the 4th Amendment created by the SCOTUS.

Glad to hear your thoughts on the matter, Prof.
12.19.2007 12:40pm
Chuck C (mail):
This whole concept is wrong on so many levels.

However, if they do this, they should make it worth the motorist's time:
"Sir, I pulled you over because you graciously allowed another motorist to merge. This is a 'Get out of one minor traffic violation free card' Have a nice day."
12.19.2007 12:51pm
rarango (mail):
It being the Christmas season (or holiday season--I lose track these days of PC designations), I will give the Rancho Cordova police credit for great concept, but lousy execution. I second Bruce M's solution: take the license plate and send the card with a note through the mail? Would that work?
12.19.2007 12:52pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Speed limits in this country are set so absurdly low that they're typically treated as a suggested minimum speed, so even good drivers are usually exceeding the speed limit. Does this allow officers (who could have pulled them over to ticket them for "speeding") to pull them over to reward them for good driving? I've never taken Crim Pro, so I have no idea.
12.19.2007 1:00pm
SC Public Defender:
Stolen from an e-mail from another SC Defense Atty.

"I am thinking that they can give out $5.00 Starbucks cards and then the
driver can lean up against the car while the officer gives a light full-body
massage on his pockets and legs and stuff."
12.19.2007 1:04pm
glangston (mail):
They should do this in the Community Policing scenario where they meet and greet and sometimes walk the street.

I drive safely so they never notice my gat in the front seat, not so I can get a free Starbucks.
12.19.2007 1:19pm
Gaius Marius:
This has got to be the dumbest idea I have ever heard.

On the other hand, what happens if after the driver rolls down the window the cop then spots paraphenalia on the front seat and proceeds to make an arrest?
12.19.2007 1:20pm
Orielbean (mail):
Don't tase me, barista!
12.19.2007 1:24pm
john w. (mail):
Hopefully, somebody who gets stopped this way will actually follow through and sue the idiots to get the program canceled before it catches on elsewhere.

There's never an ACLU representative around when you need one.
12.19.2007 1:31pm
Krahling (mail):
When similar things are done by fraternity members and drill sergeants it's called "hazing".
12.19.2007 1:35pm
TomHynes (mail):
Does anybody at Starbucks think this is a good idea?

If you give out 100 cards, how many drivers are going to have a positive impression of Starbucks and how many negative? None of the commenters above would be thrilled.
12.19.2007 1:36pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Gaius Marius: Dumber than hoity-toity Caepio's refusal to cooperate with New Man Mallius?
12.19.2007 1:38pm
Bretto:
I'd love to see this somehow get to SCOTUS and result in Whren being overturned.
12.19.2007 1:38pm
Dave N (mail):
Seems like a great 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit.

"To hell with the gift card. Open up your checkbook."
12.19.2007 1:41pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I find getting pulled sufficiently stressful that doing it to give me a $5 gift card would do the opposite of "enhancing" my "goodwill."

On the "taser" thread there was a discussion about how routine traffic stops are among the most dangerous things cops do: I'm waiting for the paranoid guy who's driving real slow and careful so the cops won't pay any attention to him and notice the sawed-off shotgun tucked into his jacket, meeting the cop who wants to reward him for being such a good citizen....

Dumb, dumb, dumb idea.
12.19.2007 1:42pm
WHOI Jacket:
Good idea, bad execution.

Of course, the point may be that you shouldn't be "terrified" by getting pulled over by the cops.
12.19.2007 1:46pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Wait until a disabled person with diabetes and food allergies who is allergic to Starbucks coffee sues the Title II ADA police dept. and also sues Starbucks as a Title II instrumentality -- for money damages. (i.e., Starbucks loses its Title III status by participating with the police).

Oh wait, maybe once the driver is given the coffee certificate, they will be deemed to be DUI driving under the influence of caffeine, or attempted DUI caffeine.

And lets not forget in Florida, the Florida Statutes purport to give authority to overide one's constitutional right to claim the exclusionary rule in search incident to arrest situations -- all the police need to, perhaps, is stop the driver, gift the caffeine certificate, then there is a crime (DUI caffeine), arrest the driver, then we have a search incident to arrest, and bingo -- no exclusionary rule.

And who knows what else the police might plant in someone's car or even embed in the Starbucks certificate to entrap someone they *just don't happen to like*

Merry Christmas!
12.19.2007 1:49pm
Patrick216:
I'm surprised Starbucks would participate in this promotion. Being stopped by the police to be given a $5 Starbucks card would probably not leave me with a positive impression of Starbucks.

But I think this is clearly an effort by Eugene to participate in the War on Christmas. I bet he'd even object to the police doing a no-knock raid of his house at 6:00 am to announce that he won $100 in gift certificates to Amazon.com. Some people are so ungrateful! (/sarcasm)
12.19.2007 1:55pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Imagine, a wholesale revisit of state (colluding with private) action doctrine, all for some measly gift cards. Starbuck$ would make a great deep pocket here if they had anything to do with the scheme.
12.19.2007 2:01pm
Mike Dimino:
There has been litigation on similar issues, with courts assessing "reasonableness" by several different means. I agree in the end with Professor Volokh that the operation is unconstitutional on these facts, because the police behavior is very unlikely to advance the safety of either the person stopped or anybody else. But police often restrict persons' freedom of action or intrude on reasonable expectations of privacy solely for the purpose of assisting them, and not for the purpose of investigating crime. Many courts have found such "searches" and "seizures" "reasonable." I'm currently working on an article on these "community-caretaking" searches.
12.19.2007 2:03pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
I'd sure as hell bring a sec. 1983 lawsuit if this happened to me. First, when the cop told me why I'd been pulled over, I'd ask: "So, you admit you just pulled me over without probable cause or reasonable suspicion?"

He'd have to say yes. Summary Judgment.

The problem is there is not a good damage model for such a lawsuit, so only the ACLU or some pro bono sort of firm would take the case (I'd bring it pro se if it happened to me, out of prinicapl, and I'd do it pro bono for anyone who it happened to if they ever do it here in Texas).

I have two other questions...

First, if a cop does pull someone over to "reward them" as a pretextual stop and the driver pulls out a gun and blows the cop's head off, is that holiday karma?

Second, if a good Christian cop decides he's only going to give these $5 coupons to drivers with Jesus fish on them (after all, it's Christmas), would there be a First Amendment violation in addition to the Fourth Amendment violation, and if so, would someone be judicially estopped from claiming both (they seem to be adverse positions). That is assuming you could somehow find a plaintiff who has standing to assert the First Amendment claim... probably only a Christian who was stopped due to the Jesus fish and the officer confided in the driver that he is only giving these out to fellow christian drivers (based on a Jesus fish on one's car).
12.19.2007 2:07pm
A.:
Give me back my tax money, you selectively-enforcing, probable-cause-shirking, redistributionist thieves!
12.19.2007 2:22pm
JRW (mail) (www):
Someone has been watching Andy Griffith reruns. Season 2, Episode 11: "[Barney ]gets rid of the pickles the next day by handing them out to motorists as safe driving awards."

Wikipedia link.
12.19.2007 2:25pm
alias:
Starbucks is the new Halliburton.
12.19.2007 2:27pm
Uh_Clem (mail):
Whoever came up with this idea should be prohibited from being part of any decision making process in the future. It's just plain stupid. I'm quite sure the police have better things to do, and I'd be livid if they wasted my time giving me a measly $5 gift certificate.
12.19.2007 2:28pm
Virginian:

I'd do it pro bono for anyone who it happened to if they ever do it here in Texas.


You realize, of coures, that an idea so loony could only be carried out in California.
12.19.2007 2:39pm
Frog Leg (mail):
Does the acceptance of the gift card constitute a waiver of a 4th Amendment complaint?
12.19.2007 2:43pm
alias:
This idea has untapped potential.

Once they pull you over, they could search your car, and if they don't find drugs, you get another $5 gift card.

Police could pull people over, pat them down, handcuff them, place them under arrest, stuff them in the back of a squad car and then.... drop them off at Chuck-E-Cheese with some free game tokens! (Just don't walk away or have bulging pockets or you'll get tasered).

If you have no criminal record or traffic tickets, police could break into your house at midnight with a battering ram, guns drawn, and.... present you with a free slurpee at 7-Eleven!

TSA could get into the act, too! They could rifle through your bags, strip search you and interrogate you, and if you don't complain for the whole time, you get a TSA keychain!

Why do some people not understand that not every law-abiding person enjoys interacting with law enforcement?
12.19.2007 2:43pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
I think the scariest part about this is how excited and thrilled most people who get pulled over, thinking they are going to get a ticket but instead get a "reward" coupon, will be. "Wow officer, thanks, I thought you were going to give me a ticket! This is a great idea!"

Then the person will tell his friends about his experience, and they'll all conclude it's great and encourages good driving ("maybe if I drive lawfully I'll get a coupon too!"). The AP article itself posts this as a happy holiday cheer story, not a serious and intentional breach of the Bill of Rights. It doesn't even mention any legal issues, and treats it as though this is a great thing.

Did you notice the cop interviewed in the article says about the traffic officers in his department "They'll be pulling over a lot of people [to reward them]." I've been to California, and there are not "a lot" of good drivers there (or anywhere, for that matter).

And... how can you prove a cop didn't intend to give you a reward when he pulls you over (and later arrests you for something he sees or smells in the car)? You can't. If this is permitted, "I intended to give him a reward for being a law abiding driver" will become a universal excuse for unlawful traffic stops.
12.19.2007 2:50pm
WHOI Jacket:
When the police state comes to America, it will be holding a Double Mocha Latte.
12.19.2007 2:54pm
alkali (mail):
I'm surprised Starbucks would participate in this promotion. Being stopped by the police to be given a $5 Starbucks card would probably not leave me with a positive impression of Starbucks.

Starbucks gift cards can be purchased by anyone. I am guessing that Starbucks is less than thrilled to be associated with this particular endeavor.
12.19.2007 3:06pm
Oren:

I'd sure as hell bring a sec. 1983 lawsuit if this happened to me. First, when the cop told me why I'd been pulled over, I'd ask: "So, you admit you just pulled me over without probable cause or reasonable suspicion?"

The jury will find in your favor and award you $1 for being a huge dick.
12.19.2007 3:08pm
New World Dan (www):
The police need to come up with a means for a friendly stop. Maybe green lights instead of red.

Also reminds me of a sting the St. Paul police were running a few years ago -- they'd stand someone at a crosswalk. If you didn't stop, you got a ticket. If you did stop, they'd walk up to the car and give you a coupon for a free ice cream cone. It was, at least, not particularly threatening.
12.19.2007 3:09pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I'd sure as hell bring a sec. 1983 lawsuit if this happened to me.


The jury will find in your favor and award you $1 for being a huge dick

And he will have made (a minor footnote in) legal history, the cops will have been forced to deal with the expense and hassle of defending the suit, Starbucks will have been publicly embarrassed by the publicity, and it will all have been such a fiasco that noone wil ever do anything like it again.

Sounds like a win-win-win to me.
12.19.2007 3:13pm
Liberal Libertarian:
Seems like an awfully risky stunt. According to FBI stats, slightly over 17% of police officers killed on the job are killed in traffic pursuits/stops (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/2006/figure4.html). Of course, the "nice stop" population is likely to be differen than the "regular stop" population.
12.19.2007 3:16pm
REPEAL 16-17 (mail):
I have never gone, and will never go, to any Starbucks. So giving me a $5 gift card to Starbucks is a worthless gift. As for the police officers giving out these stupid cards finding some form of contraband, there isn't anything approaching probable cause. The Exclusionary Rule would clearly apply to any such stop.

This is a stupid, and ill conceived, publicity stunt disguised as a reward for good drivers. Why not simply give each good driver $5?
12.19.2007 3:23pm
Bottomfish (mail):
A program of this kind will not do anything for all the careful drivers who would be eligible for the reward if only the police were there to observe their behavior. Violators are after all far less common than compliant drivers, even in my State. Under a just system the police would be forced to give out hundreds of thousands of Starbucks cards per day.
12.19.2007 3:32pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Why do some people not understand that not every law-abiding person enjoys interacting with law enforcement?"

Exactly. For people with autism, this goes double since the basically only time cops deal with someone with autism is when they are carting them off to jail.

"When the police state comes to America, it will be holding a Double Mocha Latte."

Ithas already come. As soon as my husband made a crime report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director, that someone in the Department (it took an official password, so we are told) had (1) tampered with my official driver's license records to show I had only a "learner's permit" when in fact I was issued a valid Class E driver's license, (2) broke into my car and stole my valid driver's license, and (3) planted a counterfeit "learner's permit" made after my valid driver's license was issed --

suddenly, the moment I sat down in the driver's seat preparing to drive this afternoon, a plain white sheriff's car (Pinellas County) pulled up across the street 20 feet away from our car, as if the same person who committed the crimes against me before (above-described) was going to do it again -- i.e. suddenly make my license invalid in the records -- the moment I turned the ignition key and began to drive, so the cop could arrest me.

As soon as my husband sat in thedriver's seat, and I sat in the passenger seat, the cop car left..Duh ...

Wake up everyone -- NO ONE'S valid driver's license is safe if law enforcement and employees in the State Department of Motor Vehicles can simply commit crimes, remove all entries showing you have a valid driver's license (without any notice or due process), and then arrest you for what the tampered record shows, search your car, plant things in it, and ruin your life. As you drive, YOUR records can be changed just like mine!!

This IS the very definition of a police state.

What kind of damages should a State Department of Motor Vehicles and/or law enforcement assisting with commission of such crimes and torts against an innocent victims have to pay for each day the innocent victim who really has a valid driver's license is prevented from driving by such Department of Motor Vehciles/law enforcement harassment? And what damages for all the lost employment such causes?

And when does this become a hate crime?

Maybe someone should ask (1) Electra Theodorides-Bustle, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and (2) the Pinellas County Sheriff.

Oh, and maybe someone should also ask Electra why it is ok to reatliate with crimes and torts like this aghainst someone just because they brought Title II Americans With Disabilities Act litigation against the Department.
12.19.2007 3:33pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"to reatliate" = retaliate
12.19.2007 3:35pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
The jury will find in your favor and award you $1 for being a huge dick.

Don't know about the dick part, but like I said in the same post you're quoting from: "The problem is there is not a good damage model for such a lawsuit." And I obviously wouldn't be bringing the civil rights lawsuit for money anyway. I'd seek a declaratory judgment that the policy is unconstitutional.

Virginian: Once it's upheld by the courts in california, every other police department, including ones in Texas, will get in on the act, too. I truly do fear the courts would carve out a "rewarding good behavior" exception to the 4th Amendment. The "community caretaking" exception some state courts have created is not far off. It's a real risk.

Knowing the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, I absolutely guarantee you they would uphold this by creating a "rewarding good behavior" exception. And they'd put the burden on the defendant to rebut the officer's claim that he inteded to reward your good behavior when he pulled you over (seized you for 4th Amendment purposes).

Seriously, this could and likely will spread. And the average American will be perfectly happy about it, thinking it's good policy to "encourage lawful driving."

Repeal 16-17: it doesn't matter what the gift is. Officer Pamela Anderson could be pulling me over to reward me by sucking my dick.

The question to ask, which really proves the bad intention of this policy, is why the cops don't just get the license plate numbers of the "good drivers" and mail them the $5 coupon with a nice friendly letter thanking the driver for driving well. Sure, it could be someone other than the car's owner driving it. But they have no problem sending tickets in the mail based on a picture of the license plate, so I'd say that counterargument would be made in bad faith and with very unclean hands.
12.19.2007 3:42pm
Oren:
Ralph, the motorist will be out attorney's fees greatly in excess of $1.

Bruce it would be a civil suit in whatever Fed district of Texas and then off to the 5CA which will probably find it inimical to the 4A. That said, I can't see the defendant not loosing thousands of dollars to make a point.
12.19.2007 3:53pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Liberal Libertarian, when you say "Of course, the "nice stop" population is likely to be differen than the "regular stop" population" do you really mean to imply a driver speeding a little bit, or who failed to signal 100 feet before turning, or with a brake light out, is more likely to murder a police officer during a traffic stop?

I don't agree with your assessment.
12.19.2007 4:01pm
k parker (mail):
Elliot,

By "this country" I assume you mean the US? It's definitely the case where I live. But I don't think it's exclusive to America; if I recall correctly from the famous destroyed traffic camera page, England has exactly the same problem.
12.19.2007 4:29pm
SenatorX (mail):
Wow, this is off the charts dumb. Don't officers have to have some basic law training? I'm having trouble imaginging this idea surviving once it exited one persons mouth and entered another's brain. It has layers of dumb.
12.19.2007 4:32pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Oren: I am a lawyer and I said if this ever happens in Texas (well, within 150 miles of where I live, Texas is a big state, and El Paso is freakin' FAR from Houston) I will take the civil rights case pro bono.

Don't be so sure the 5th Circuit wouldn't buy into a "rewarding good behavior" exception to warrantless seizures under the 4th Amendment. Courts, including the 5th Cir., have bought dumber and more damaging arguments from the government. Particularly if the "reward stop" led to the capture of a murderer or huge drug kingpin. Then the court is infinitely more likely to uphold the police action and carve out an new 4th Amendment exception, versus a case where it's just an annoyed citizen (rather than a criminal defendant seeking evidence suppression).
12.19.2007 4:42pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
And if you audio record the offer of gift card?
12.19.2007 5:01pm
Matt B (mail):
i prefer a 2 cent tax break to being stopped on the road by police for a five dollar gift card. a waste of money
12.19.2007 5:04pm
Gaius Marius:
Good one, Eugene! Caepio Senior's refusal to combine his legions with the legions under New Man Mallius whereby the invading Germans completely wiped out both armies within days was the height of stupidity. However, it did result in shaking the Senate's faith in the Optimates, which is why the Senate turned to New Man Gaius Marius to save Rome from the German horde.
12.19.2007 6:31pm
ReaderY:
Actually I kind of like the idea of the police giving out rewards for exemplary behavior. It strikes me as an experiment that may or may not work, but might be worth trying. It also seems something of a shame that there always seem to be lawyers with armies of technical reasons to shoot such an experiment down.

Perhaps the police could simply note the licence plate number and male a letter containing the starbucks card to the vehicle's registered owner.
12.19.2007 6:48pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Folks, this is one of those stories that make me feel old. Police have been giving out "good driver" citations for years. It's just usually a form, a card or something. The ONLY thing that's different here is now you get a latte out of it.

Honest to God, do we need to grope for things about which to be outraged?
12.19.2007 6:58pm
Oren:

Particularly if the "reward stop" led to the capture of a murderer or huge drug kingpin. Then the court is infinitely more likely to uphold the police action and carve out an new 4th Amendment exception, versus a case where it's just an annoyed citizen (rather than a criminal defendant seeking evidence suppression).

For the purposes of the law, does it matter whether it's a suppression issue vs 1983. Qualified immunity might kick in if the right is not 'clearly established' which is no defense in suppression but the fundamental question of law seems identical.
12.19.2007 7:01pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Oren: even if qualified immunity somehow applied to the officer (who should know the stop is unlawful), one would also sue the police department which implemented the unconstitutional policy, procedure, or custom.

I was only saying a court is more likely to create a 4th Amendment exception in a criminal case to avoid suppression of evidence than in a civil case brought under section 1983 to avoid forcing the government to pay out what would probably be nominal damages and a declaration the policy is unconstitutional.
12.19.2007 7:57pm
theobromophile (www):
I bet the young, single cops will use this as an excuse to pull over young, attractive women.

Good drivers are few and far between in California; there's not much danger of random assignation of the Starbucks cards. "Thank you, ma'am; you're the only person today who was driving less than 85 mph on the 5... and you weren't hanging in anyone's blind spot. Amazing. Have a caramel macchiato on me."
12.19.2007 7:58pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
Actually, sounds like the sort of thing they'd do in Moldova, not in the Land Of The Free ....

"Land of The Free"? I thought you said they were doing this in California.
12.19.2007 9:09pm
Aric (mail) (www):
So, if I'm driving in Rancho Cordova, and see the flashing lights in my rear-view mirror, am I free to ignore them? After all, the police have announced - publicly - that it might just be to give me something that I don't want. Once signals become ambiguous, do I earn the right to interpret them as I see fit?
12.20.2007 1:49am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
It also seems something of a shame that there always seem to be lawyers with armies of technical reasons to shoot such an experiment down.

I'm not a lawyer, I'm a random citizen who does not want to be pulled over for a gift card, and I'm glad there are lawyers offering to fight this thing pro-bono.
12.20.2007 9:01am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Charlie (Colorado)

Folks, this is one of those stories that make me feel old. Police have been giving out "good driver" citations for years.


I've been driving since 1978 and never received or even heard of one before. Most of my driving has been in MA, NY, ME, &NH. Is this maybe a Colorado thing? To your knowledge is it still ongoing practice, or something that used to be done then died out?
12.20.2007 9:04am
BruceM (mail) (www):
Police have not beein doing this for years. They've been pulling people over (with prob.cause or reas. suspicion) and giving them warnings instead of tickets, which may seem like a "gift" but the stop was not unconstititionally initiated.
12.20.2007 9:50am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
As has been pointed out, traffic stops can be very dangerous for police; I shouldn't want to make any more of them than absolutely necessary if I were a cop. Two true stories that happened to friends of mine:

1) A friend and his wife were driving in an adjoining town, going 35 in a 40 zone, were pulled over by a policeman who asked my friend if he knew that he "was going 35 in a 40 zone?" My friend stopped thinking for a moment, and then very carefully asked the cop, "you're saying that I was going 35 in a 40 zone?" The cop answered, "yes, sir. Have a nice evening!", got into his cruiser and drove off. A little investigation brought up the information that this cop had a reputation for playing this game. Dangerous game.

2) Another friend, driving home from work (night shift) at some unearthly hour in the morning on a deserted superhighway was pulled over by a cop who pulls over IN FRONT OF HIM. Very bad and dangerous technique. The cop walks back and tells my friend that he has picked up two women whose car broke down; they need a ride home and he can't take the time from his shift to get them home; could my friend give the ladies a ride home. Well, the cop picked the right guy; my friend always stops to help people, so he gave the women a ride home. Still, assuming that the cop didn't know my friend's car (and since my friend had never met the cop before, I doubt it) and who he was dealing with, he took a very foolish chance pulling over in front of the vehicle he had stopped.
12.20.2007 5:11pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Brooks: Indeed, traffic stops are very dangerous for cops. So far, nobody has answered my query about whether a cop who intentionally uses "giving a $5 coupon for law abiding behavior" as a pretext for making an otherwise unlawful traffic stop gets shot in the face by the driver is holiday karma. I take no position, as I'm no expert on karma.
12.20.2007 8:53pm