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Speeding Tickets 
30th-Apr-2010 09:06 pm
Neil Diamond Porcupine Pie
Fargo, North Dakota, just added two "unmarked"* sirened police cars for catching speeders (WDAY TV news story). They interviewed some of the ticketed on last night's news, and the folks, who were all pretty amiable considering they now owed the city some money, had differing viewpoints on this method of stopping speeders. While some agreed that they done the crime so now they must pay the fine, others said that they felt that they should be given fair warning of a police vehicle so they have a chance to obey the law. Still others noted that they were wary of being pulled over by a non-police person who might be up to no good.

What is your opinion?

Poll #1558628 Speed Traps

Using unmarked police cars to ticket speeders:

is a fair way to stop speeders
62(80.5%)
is entrapment
9(11.7%)
is ... ? (elaborate in comments, please!)
6(7.8%)


* Unmarked in that they are not typical police vehicles, but still have license plates that read POLICE, so...
Comments 
1st-May-2010 02:15 am (UTC)
So they have a chance to obey the law? Lol, they have that chance every time they get behind the wheel.
1st-May-2010 02:24 am (UTC)
+1

The law is not "Below 50 when police officer is present"
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1st-May-2010 02:35 am (UTC)
the other night i was stopped by a cop and i pulled over and as i waited for him to come out and approach my car, I thought "How d I know this is a real cop and not just some psycho who killed a cop and stole his car and is going around killing people?" Luckily, it wasn't, but the question still stands.
1st-May-2010 02:59 am (UTC)
Well, I don't think it's entrapment, which in slightly simplified terms is when an undercover/disguised officer convinces a citizen to commit a crime s/he was not predisposed to commit (the definition varies slightly by state). It'd be like if a woman pretended to be in labor, asked you for a ride to the hospital, told you to speed, and then arrested you for speeding. (That's a terrible example, but I can't think of anything better). If you're already doing it, it's not entrapment.

Anyway, I think concerns about safety are fair, but no, I don't agree that someone should have to see a cop car to be pressured into obeying the speed limit. I'd love to see the "there was no cop around" defense at a murder trial.
1st-May-2010 03:04 am (UTC)
I don't like the idea of constantly being monitored when I can't easily notice it. Yeah, sure, I'll pay the damn fine if I break the law, but there's something inherently wrong about being monitored when you're not aware of it.
1st-May-2010 04:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, but you're out in public, which has no guarantee of privacy whatsoever. I have no illusions whatsoever that the cameras on the buses and lightrail trains are immortalizing my not-so-proud moments of when I quickly change my seat to avoid having to sit next to someone unsavory.

Even in the workplace, where they may not come right out and say that they're tracking what you do, but they most likely are. Wasting hours on teh Intarnets when you should be working anyway? What excuse would you have for that? And same goes for breaking the law, IMHO.

YMMV, of course.
1st-May-2010 03:15 am (UTC)
My father was killed by a drunk driver who was speeding. Anything that slows people down if fine with me.
1st-May-2010 05:35 am (UTC)
i think it's the drinking that's the problem. (MANY studies have shown lowering the speed limit does NOT make people safer, around 70 seems optimum for safety) but I've been working promoting education against drunk driving my entire life. I almost lost my mind when I was working in a library and they put me in charge of people doing community service, and 90% of them were drunk drivers - and NONE of them had learned anything from it. Every story "just a glass and a half, I wasn't impaired" - "If you weren't impaired, you wouldn't have gotten pulled over, fucktard!!" I wanted to smash their face with the encyclopedias. Worse I could do was make them clean the bathrooms.

Guy drives drunk and gets lucky not to kill someone and winds up shelving books in a library. Another guy kills someone and goes to jail. The crime was the same, one bastard just happened to be luckier - I think the punishment should be the same. You drink, you get behind the wheel, you go to prison, manslaughter or worse.
1st-May-2010 03:26 am (UTC)
There are always unmarked police cars here. Not even a licence plate that reveals what they are. I mean, if you see them around a lot you learn what they look like, but the police are catching onto that and are changing the types of unmarked cars they use too.

I am a relatively new driver (didn't get my licence as soon as I could like most people) and frankly the standard of driving is appalling. People speed through dangerous construction and school zones!! What is so hard about slowing down for a few hundred meters? Nothing!
1st-May-2010 03:36 am (UTC)
I have no problem with unmarked coppers. I do however have a problem with hidden cameras which in essence don't catch the speeder in the act but weeks later.
1st-May-2010 05:28 am (UTC)
as a woman, i would not pull over for an unmarked car, I'd call the police (on my cell phone, if legal, I do use a headset) and/or drive to the nearest police station.

now while I believe people should always obey traffic laws (and MANY studies have shown lowering the speed limit does NOT make people safer, around 70 seems optimum for safety) it does bother me when cops use methods like that to catch people. Everything from traffic cams to checking your E-Z pass to see if you passed 2 checkpoints too quickly.
1st-May-2010 05:41 am (UTC)
this definitely does not fit the legal definition of entrapment, but something about it still bugs me. I think it's that since EVERYONE speeds, maybe we should take a real look at our driving laws and the speeds that modern cars are most safe to drive at. There actually are accidents caused by people driving to slow. And if people consistently drive 65 mph on a stretch of road where the speed limit is 50, that should be evaluated.
1st-May-2010 06:15 am (UTC)
This. The worst drivers are the ones who go under the damn speed limit. I think anyone who goes significantly lower than the speed limit should get pulled over, too. I get incredibly frustrated when I get stuck behind some idiot going 50 miles per hour in a 60 mph two-lane highway. >:|
1st-May-2010 07:48 am (UTC)
It's still pretty easy to recognize unmarked cops, even here where they don't have license plates to give it away. But really, you know the law. If you choose not to follow it, you're also choosing to accept the consequences regardless of how you were caught.
1st-May-2010 10:33 am (UTC)
Oh I'd be skeptical as hell about an unmarked car pulling me over. You're not going to see the license plate when they're flagging you down. If they want me to pay attention to them, they best be marked. The cops here just hide in random places around town and wait for people to speed through. Can't they just do that?

I think the unmarked cars are are a terribly creepy idea. It's not entrapment. Entrapment is when cops entice people to commit crimes. Simply not appearing to be around is not the same thing. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a good practice, but by definition, it's not entrapment. It's kind of funny to me that some see it that way, though. It's a very childlike mentality that inspires that belief. "We should have a chance to obey the law!" WTF? Seriously? They have a chance every time they leave the house and get into their two-ton metal death traps (I think I got that from Fairly Oddparents, haha). Yes, I know, they're not all metal, or two tons. The ones that aren't are even more like death traps, especially if they go one-on-one with a semi.

That all being said, one might not realize I'm pretty much against law in general. Some laws are there to actually protect people, which I think is a good thing for the most part, but some are just downright fucking invasive. Now, enforcing the speed limit, I'm kind of on the fence about. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me for anyone to reinforce that law, because people are going to speed anyway, they're just going to know where the cops are stationed and they're going to do what they damn well please when the cops aren't around. Unmarked cars, though... that's just fucked up. I don't think I'd stop for one. I'm far too paranoid for that.

It's also not fair play, in my opinion. It's a form of control. Police are there to "serve and protect", not to control the population in any way they see fit.

"Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither." - Benjamin Franklin
1st-May-2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
I'm against police pulling people over for not wearing seatbelts. The only good thing about that new law is that now I have a good reason for making my passengers buckle up. But really, if people want to risk their lives, just...let them. Whatever.

On the other hand, we have recently had a high number of deaths due to speeding/negligent driving. I think our police are trying to get it through people's heads that car accidents are a great way to die. But is it working? Probably not.

Hi, I'm sillyliss. I'm the only person in Fargo who is driving the speed limit. :P
1st-May-2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
It's not entrapment in any actually legal sense of the word. If you want a good legal argument against it, here it is: there are two sorts of fees governments extract. Some are for enforcement, some are for revenue. Paying for car registration, for instance, is strictly for revenue. Now, it's not meaninglessly for revenue. That fee you pay for the building permit is supposed to pay for the people who are making sure you're not building a death trap. But fines, for instance, the one you get for building without a permit, are for enforcement, to penalize you if you don't follow the rules, even if your building turns out to look to code. Something like catching speeders in unmarked cars (and things like red light cameras) really start to push at the boundaries of a definition of whether this is for enforcement or revenue.

However, the real reason why I love this discussion is that it puts the screws to the whole free market/economically rational creatures sorts of arguments. Doing something like this is the textbook solution in a classical economic sense.
1st-May-2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
It shouldn't matter if the car is marked or not, you should be obeying the law. However, I think I wouldn't be very comfortable pulling over for an unmarked car, especially if it were in a more deserted area.
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6th-May-2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Probably both. I think some people speed because they lose attention - but they're the ones who don't go way over the speed limit. For them, I think that unmarked police cars is unfair. For those who speed deliberately and do go way over the limit, I think that any way is a fair way to stop them.
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