Not every traffic stop need end with a ticket

I remembered my friend who was stopped for speeding six times during the week she had caught her husband with another woman but received only three tickets, because the last three times she became hysterical, explaining to the policemen what had happened.

I recalled this as I leapt out of my car and ran to the police car brandishing tickets in each hand. The surprised officer saw a crazed man on the verge of a stroke shouting, “Police harassment.” This had been the third time I had been stopped that day for not wearing a seat belt. As had happened with my friend, the officer dropped his usual stoical demeanor and became a calming, comforting, kind presence. He walked me back to my car, along the Hana Highway outside of Paia. He admonished me but did not give me that third ticket.

A second memorable encounter occurred at midnight as I returned from caring for a sick friend. As I turned onto the Hana Highway in Haiku, I failed to make a complete stop. Suddenly, the black, deserted night was bright with police headlights. After I told him where I was coming from and he had checked my papers, he said: “You have a choice: I can give you a $90 ticket for no seat belt and a $90 ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign, or I can give you a warning.”

As I drove away with a warning, he said, “Drive safely.”

Raphael O’Suna