NEWS BLOG (WSAU) I was ticketed once at a sobriety checkpoint. I hadn’t been drinking. But I had a big mouth – and I paid for it.
I was working in Ithaca, New York. On a Saturday afternoon I was out covering a news story. It was a fluff-piece, a fundraising event that would air on Monday morning’s newscasts. It was a beautiful spring day, and I didn’t want to be working. My intention was to get back to the newsroom, file my story as quickly as possible, and get on with my weekend.
The police checkpoint was in a perfect spot, around a gentle bending curve on one of the main roads to downtown. Traffic was backed up. My first thought was that there was an accident ahead. Only when slowly creeping around the bend could you see what was happening.
It took about a twenty-minutes to get to the front of the line. My working-weekend was already taking much longer than I’d expected. I was angry and frustrated when the officer finally got to my car.
“Hello,” he said. “Where are you going this afternoon?”
“None of your business,” I said.
And, with that, I was told to pull ahead into the ‘screening area’. I thought they’d make me take a breath test out of spite. They didn’t. Instead I was ticketed for not wearing my seatbelt – which, indeed, I was not wearing. My big mouth cost me a $20 fine, plus a $50 court fee, and $30 in administrative charges. $100 for not being compliant.
I should not have been disrespectful to the police officer. But, in hindsight, I was the one being disrespected. Police stopped me for no reason, delayed me on my way to work, and questioned me without probable cause.
I’ve blogged numerous times about doing more to stop drunk driving. The solution is to crack down within the boundaries of the law. Random sobriety checkpoints should be out-of-bounds.