One of the reading assignments from Neil Boortz led me to an AP story out of Ohio where their “highest court has ruled that a person may be convicted of speeding purely if it looked to a police officer that the motorist was going too fast”. My guess is Neil might not agree with the ruling or he wouldn’t have put it on his must read list; but that’s just a guess.
I’d used the “wind gauge technique” on a couple of occasions and had no problem justifying it. We’re not talking about ten or fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit; no, the times I implemented the “moistened finger held in the wind” was reserved for folks going double the speed limit or more.
One such time happened on night shift many years ago; I’m retired now. It was around two in the morning finishing off an offense report while sitting on the side of the road in a residential area. My ears were alerted to a sonic boom, maybe not quite that loud; but I could hear branches on trees bending as something hurled itself down the street off in the distance.
I poked my head out the window to see a wrecker, better stated; there was a blur resembling a wrecker zooming towards me with a car hoisted on its hook. The moment he saw the emergency lights he pulled over without having to drop in behind him.
“How fast do you think you were going?” I asked as he looked skyward for a good answer.
“Oh, maybe 65 or so.” Anyone knows you always estimate a little low when admitting how fast you were going to the cops.
“How fast?” I asked again, making fun of his response; skepticism dripping from the corner of my smile. Small aircraft are able to lift off slower than he was going.
“Well, maybe 70, 75 tops. I was on the way to the storage lot with this repo and needed to get there in a hurry.”
His driver’s license was expired, he didn’t have insurance and a quick check turned up several unpaid traffic tickets; no big surprise there. I let him sign his tickets, including the one written for speeding 10 miles per hour over the posted speed of 30 and he seemed grateful for the break; that is until I called for a wrecker to tow a “prisoner’s vehicle”; he was going to jail to settle up the old warrants. It was painful watching a grown man cry as one of his fellow wrecker drivers swooped in on a double fare, his wrecker and the repo too.
A week later there was an instant replay; same wrecker driver hauling another repo down the street at sub-sonic speed. He pulled over when he saw my police unit on the side of the road; didn’t even need to put on the emergency light bar. I smiled as I wrote the tickets and he knew there was nothing he could say. About the only thing going for him; his warrants had been cleared so he was able to finish the haul without another trip to jail.
He never contested the speeding tickets written using the wind gauge technique. I’m quite certain any judge or jury would have found him guilty based on the breeze he created, that and my many years of experience as a police officer. Radar might be the preferred method of verifying speed; however, an officer’s observation is what nails them; tree limbs bending in the wind makes for a fairly strong case.
This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.