Monday, July 30, 2007

when i picked my red car, i wasn't really thinking of how attractive it would be when it comes to MMDA and other traffic enforcement officers. but after being flagged down for tiny traffic violations at least once a year since i started driving, i now know better.

anyway, since i started working for the government, i've learned that most traffic enforcement officers will be reasonable once you tell them that you work for the government too. they smile at you, you smile at them, they remind you not to commit the same mistake, you promise not to commit the same mistake, everybody happy.

last friday, though, i met my match.

an MMDA officer flagged me down for apparently being in the wrong lane. i was on the third lane, on my way towards the coastal road when an fx on my right made a left turn, effectively forcing me to ram down on my brakes and let him pass before i could go on my merry way. imagine my surprise when instead of signalling to the driver of the fx, the traffic officer signalled at me.

me, the girl on the third lane.

dutiful citizen that i am, i stopped and gave the officer my license. he then informed me that i was on the wrong lane. i reasoned out, but i was on the third lane. he told me that from first to third lanes you're supposed to make a left and fourth lane outwards go straight. so i argued, if you're penalizing me for not making a left, then you should have penalized the fx driver too for turning left when he was on the fourth lane.

no, he reasoned out. the driver would not have almost hit me had i made a left like him. i was wrong he pointed out. but then, i asked, shouldn't he have gone straight? he said, no, you should have turned left.

it got to the point that he was so pissed at me for reasoning with him (and for probably having a brain, cause, really, you see my point, right?) that he said, if you don't want to believe me, then i'll give you a ticket and you can question it when the time comes.

now, i didn't go through the gruelling debate society trainings, get humiliated in law school, and study for the bar twice to let him get the better of me, especially when his argument was so clearly flawed. so, it was then that i demanded to see his supervisor.

he then gave me a new argument: first to third lanes go left, fourth lane can either go left or straight, and from the fifth lane onwards, straight. now, wait a minute, i told him, now there's a new set of rules? he said, no, it's always been than way. then i asked, but where's the paint on the road? how do i know you're not making this up as we go along.

by this time, he was so pissed at me he even went as far as telling me that he wished i got into an accident so that he could have made out the report and i would have seen how i was in the wrong. i told him i realized i may have been wrong but i am not about to accede to the fact that the fx driver wasn't wrong simply because they said so. and, absent any markings on the road, how am i to believe that he's not making the rules up as we go along?

at the end of the day, i was able to talk to his superior who was clearly more reasonable than he was. i explained my position and the faulty reasoning of the other officer. i also told him that absent any arrows on the road, how am i to know where i'm supposed to be when, in a five-lane road, the third lane usually can go straight already?

reasoning (and brains) will always win out in the end.

i got my license - no ticket mind you - and left the other officer huffing and puffing as he made his way back to his post hoping to catch some poor person who he can scare into submission.

incidentally - in the event you get caught, REFUSE to allow them to write down "reckless driving" as your violation. this merits the highest penalty and once you've had three violations, they can suspend your license. force them to be specific in writing down your violation and if they're unable to, challenge them. you don't actually have to pay the fine immediately. if you read the back of the ticket, you can actually challenge the legality of the ticket at a hearing specifically scheduled for that.

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