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VOL. 126 | NO. 244 | Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vic Fleming

Speeding Yields More Tales

By Vic Fleming

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Last week’s column was about speeding and how some charged therewith find a way to make the issuing officer laugh by candor, poetry, good-natured jokes, etc. Such stories remind others of their own experiences.

A friend who used to prosecute DWI – driving while intoxicated – cases recalled an instance in which he was pulled over at 3 a.m. It became apparent that the officer suspected alcohol was involved when the driver was asked to recite the alphabet from D through W. (If you’ve never tried it, you might be surprised at the level of concentration required.)

My friend claims to have responded as follows: “Officer, I tell you what. I’ll do the ABCs for you if you’ll repeat after me: ‘Starkle, starkle, little twink./Who the heck you are I think./I’m not under the alcofluence of incohol/As some thinkle peep I are./Hey, drinktender, bring me another bar.’”

My friend claims to have accomplished his recitation without so much as a single slur or mumble. With clarity and proper enunciation. A laughing officer of the law is said to have been immediately persuaded of the young man’s sobriety.

Which brings me to the matter of another friend, who, while still in law school, found himself driving home one weekend with a speedy escort. What happened was that moments after he pulled onto the interstate, a certain emergency vehicle whizzed past him at about 90 mph.

“Robert” slid in behind the speeding vehicle and cruised for about 75 miles before noticing that the driver of a marked car behind him was apparently taking issue with his velocity. He pulled over and respectfully tendered license, registration and proof of insurance.

“So, what’s the rush that you’re trailing the EMTs, son?” was how he remembered the roadside dialogue starting.

Robert calmly replied, “No rush, officer. But, being in law school, I‘ve heard about chasing ambulances, and I just wanted to see what it was like.” Robert swears that the officer so enjoyed his laughter that he was let off with a warning.

And then there was a woman who was in front of me a few years ago in circumstances where I so enjoyed my laughter that I let her off with probation. I forget what the charge was, but I asked a standard question: “When was the last time you received a moving violation?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a moving violation … although I have hit a number of nonmoving objects.”

Her statement reminded me of the guy who testified, “The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve several times before I hit him.”

Be careful out there, especially with what you say to police who pull you over. A woman I know claims to have had the following dialogue with one of her city’s finest:

“Ma’am, did you realize you were speeding in a school zone?”

“Of course I was speeding in a school zone; those children are armed!”

She ends her story: “I’ve never seen anyone laugh so hard – and still be able to write a ticket.”

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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