Not So Lucky This Time

Last fall I got pulled over for speeding in Hillsboro and inexplicably did not get a ticket. I mean, that's great, I don't want one, but it always surprises me (not that it happens all the time or anything) how subjective the process is.

To me it's pretty clear. Officer records driver speeding, officer pulls driver over, officer writes ticket.

So why do they sometimes not write a ticket? Or why do they sometimes pull a driver over in a given situation, but then in an identical situation not pull them over? Why is so much left to however the officer feels in a given moment? (I have no answers for these questions, only weak suppositions having to do with how much sleep the officer got the night before or how motivated they may be feeling - kind of like me every day I go to work.)

A few months ago we drove out to the coast for the day. We go to Cannon Beach a lot (that's where I proposed), so that means taking Highway 26 straight west from Portland to Highway 101 and heading south a few miles. Highway 26 is a beautiful drive, twisting through the Coast range, hitting a summit of about 1600 feet, with forests and tiny, tiny towns dotting the route. It crosses back and forth over rivers and streams, mostly on two-lane roads with the occasional passing lanes, and about the only negative is having to see some of the clear-cut forests desperately trying to recover.

And it's a smooth drive. The posted speed limit is 55 and generally people follow it, but often they drop to 50 and sometimes even lower. I pass those people whenever I can, because I'm more likely to be hitting 60-65. I love the drive, but it's still 70 miles to the coast and even at 8am I'm in a hurry to avoid the rush and make sure we get a parking spot, either in town in Cannon Beach or one of the beaches near the town. (On a summer weekend if you don't get there by 10am you will have great, great, great difficulty finding a parking spot anywhere on the coast.)

There is a stretch of road heading west, coming down from the summit, where it widens to four lanes as it twists down the mountains. It passes by the one rest stop on the way (so if you need to go, you can't miss it) and eventually bottoms out near the turn-off to the north to head to Saddle Mountain (a hike we have done once and need to do again, but it's not an easy one). Coming down the mountain the road curves in lazy turns and cars just about always hit 70. I do. Sometimes it's planned because I'm passing someone who inexplicably drives 50 when there is one lane but hits 65 when there are two, but others it's just a product of enjoying the smooth drive and coasting downhill.

Coming out of one these curves, a couple miles east still of the Saddle Mountain turn-off, about half the time a state trooper is sitting there gunning the Portlanders heading to the beach. I've seen him many, many times. I've panicked many, many times, wondering if I'm going to get pulled over. I've driven past him at 72 miles an hour, and not been pulled over.

Saturday I was not lucky. I came out of the curve at 71, saw the police car, and hit the brakes, but of course once you see the car it's too late - your speed has already been recorded. As I passed him, down to about 63 by that time, I saw the lights come on and swore. I pulled over before he barely made it on the road and had my license and insurance card waiting for him. Not a lot you can say, right? Nothing to argue.

The officer was polite, but he did give me a ticket ($190, ouch). He must not have been a dog person, because Misaki gave him her best puppy dog eyes to no avail.

Like I said, I can't complain - I was speeding. What really bugs me is I know there is always an police car in this exact spot, but I wasn't paying close enough attention to anticipate that. (Yes, sure, the other option is just always keep it under 65 - I know.) Not only do I have only myself to blame for speeding, but I have only myself to blame for being stupid and speeding without paying attention to my exact circumstances.

One of these days I'll learn, I suppose.

Good thing I don't have a car that really would be conducive to driving fast, like a BMW or a Porsche. I'd be screwed then.


  1. a ticket for a 71 in a 65? (am i reading that right?) if so, that's pretty tight enforcement. you'd have to be going at least 10+ (if not 15+ in many stretches) over the speed limit on the I-10 between phx & LA or phx & tucson to worry about getting a ticket.

    sorry about your ticket. i'm sure misaki would have much preferred that money be spent on her.

  2. Oh no, speed limit is 55, I normally go around 65, and the officer caught me at 71. So I was going 16 over the limit. Sorry that wasn't more clear.

    And yes, I'm sure she would. :)

  3. I cannot afford to get a speeding ticket, I'm verymuch broke.
    I used to speed all the time on highways (when I lived in Washington) but now I just find it's not worth it. First, my Jeep shakes like mad if I go 66 but not anything between that and 75. Anything faster than 76 though, better be wearing a seatbelt since it'll shake you out.
    I also almost always have my Shiba with me, or a passenger like my 9 year old brother. I've noticed that since I stepped down the speeding thing I'm not as quick to anger and more chill when driving. I enjoy it a lot more, even if it takes an extra 20 minutes (or hour) to get to where I'm going.

  4. I got one about 3 months ago from a WA State Trooper on I-5. I was going 73 in a 60, but he only ticketed me for 5 mph over the speed limit. My ticket was only $90 versus your $190. :)