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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Driving North of Delmar Can Be Risky

Your truck is out of the shop after being there a week, so you go out to see a late film showing at the urban cinema. What can go wrong? Plenty, if you live in north St. Louis and plan on coming back before sun up.

We went out to see World Trade Center tonight and spent some time talking with our friend who manages the theater. We were driving north on Tucker Boulevard when a set of disco lights appears behind us at around O'Fallon Street. Busted!

What for?

Apparently, for...uh...improperly affixed license plates and failure to provide proof of insurance. And, apparently, it takes three police cars' worth of cops to make this determination. (Never know what those north siders might pull on you when you pull them over!)

The charges are technically true by the slimmest of margins. Our front license plates sit in their broken holder in the front window of the truck, after having been mangled in an accident very near the spot where we were pulled over. That time, it was daylight and it took fifteen minutes for a police officer to arrive. Since the plastic on our plate holders was shattered and the bumper twisted, I elected to place the plates in the front window rather than re-attach them. I drove like this without incident until taking the truck to the shop, and planned on putting the front plate back on tomorrow after purchasing a new frame with plastic cover. (Don't want my stickers stolen so that I'd get pulled over...) The officer who wrote the ticket tonight saw the plate and heard the story after pulling us over, but still wrote the ticket! I guess the city needs the revenue since the St. Louis Centre TIF is going through.

As for the proof of insurance charge, well, my card expired on September 5. I was pulled over at 12:00 a.m. on September 6, and did not have the new card in my truck. However, I had a copy of part of the insurance policy that declares that I have coverage, lists the policy number and the name and phone number of my agent. The officer apparently determined that I was insured, but again wrote a ticket on the technicality. She said that if I go to court I can supply proof and the tickets will be dismissed. Why write them?

Oh, yeah. Gotta have a reason for pulling someone over in the first place. And for the two "backup" cars that showed up, and the two other cars the drove to the scene to hover. Man, the guy driving the stolen car that caused my accident never met with these cops -- in fact, he was never caught and no real effort was made to chase him even though I called 911 with his plate numbers, car make and model and such within a few seconds of striking his car. Imagine the revenue they could have generated from him! Instead, he got away free and clear while Claire and I had to sit for a half-hour on our way home doubting our luck and choice of neighborhood. As Claire said, "I'm tired of getting pulled over in my own neighborhood!" This has happened before, and each time the officer has had to search to find an excuse for detaining us. Each time, we've felt like shit for even trying to live somewhere where we are treated as instant suspects just for living there.

That's okay, though. I was starting to feel comfortable living in my northside neighborhood. We wouldn't want any of that in St. Louis.

3 comments:

Nick Findley said...

The officer apparently determined that I was insured, but again wrote a ticket on the technicality. She said that if I go to court I can supply proof and the tickets will be dismissed. Why write them?

I assume you'll still get slapped with about $25 in court costs. That's my guess.

Profiling sucks.

Maire said...

What district were you in out of curiousity?

Anonymous said...

Half a dozen or so of St Louis's Finest now have justification that they were so busy with your ordeal that they just don't have enough time or manpower to look for the stolen car suspect that caused this whole thing to start with.