How to Get Pulled Over

No one likes to get pulled over. But if that fate should befall you the best case scenario is to make off without a ticket.

I am one of those lucky people who has never been issued a citation, despite having broken driving laws repeatedly. On accident, of course.

I have been pulled over for the following:

  • Running a stop sign
  • Driving 70 mph in a 45 mph zone
  • Driving the wrong way down a one way street
  • Driving at night with my headlights off
  • Driving with a broken taillight
  • Driving through a plate glass window at a 7-11 market

I assure you that each of these was an honest mistake. I had no idea the speed limit had suddenly dropped in a work zone. There were signs, but I missed them. In the one way street incident, it was my first time downtown Pittsburgh. Those streets are confusing.

And in the case of the plate glass window, well, my sandal freakishly tangled on the gas pedal. My car surged through the front window, shattering it and knocking through an ice cream freezer until I got control. No people were hurt. I was embarrassed and devastated and the nice officer just told me to be careful next time and then he left.

I’m not sure I was really just getting lucky with each of my cop interactions. I’m not a beauty queen or anything, but I was born with the kind of physical traits that automatically signal innocence.

I have blue eyes and exceedingly light skin. I’m not just white, I’m nearly blue. They called me “Casper” in high school, but that’s a compliment when you think about it.

My husband is black. They called him names too.

And he’s been pulled over way more than me. And he receives tickets so frequently that we basically have to budget for them—and for the additional insurance cost.

The last one he received was a few months ago on the way to work. For driving 40 mph in a 35 mph zone. None of his “moving violations” are for actions as glaring as my litany of dumb errors listed above.

I use to love that I’ve never received a ticket. But my good fortune, the generosity and trust that officers have shown me over the years, is really just your basic white privilege.

It’s time to dismantle it. That means that on occasion, I’m going to have to pay a fine. More white women will. We are not going to be so “lucky.” But that’s what it means to live in an equal world. That’s justice for all–at least in traffic court. Not that I’ve ever been there.

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