You Can't Cry Your Way Out of a Speeding Ticket Anymore

Categories: Law & Order
You've got it all wrong, officer.
Cops hate to cite speeding drivers almost as much as speeding drivers hate getting tickets.

Police are sick and tired of the whining and crying and worse -- the verbal abuse they get when pulling drivers over.

Perhaps that might influence them to look the other way when they see a speeding driver? Some pedestrians think this could be the case.

Yet Denis O'Leary of Park Station, which includes Golden Gate Park, is trying to change this perception. He has decided that cops should start working in teams so they can call for backup if drivers get mouthy.

Pedestrian deaths could be halved in this city if drivers obeyed speed limits, according to preliminary results from a study by the Centers for Disease Control and the San Francisco Health Department.

First, O'Leary says, he has to "change the culture" so that cops don't dread writing speeding tickets.

"You give somebody a ticket, and you get a hard time," he tells SF Weekly. "It kind of helps when we do a focused enforcement operation, where we spread that joy among ourselves."

Police already use other crafty methods to catch speeding drivers; one poses as a pedestrian while another waits to cite any driver speeding or illegally rolling through the crosswalk.

"I'm trying to conduct enforcement operations in the manner of narcotics operations and car theft abatement operations," O'Leary says. "We think in terms of teamwork, and depend more on each other. It's a lot easier to think about solving the problem with a team than with just one officer."

On Monday, we reported on a collision on Masonic Avenue where a speeding motorist hit a jogger, who suffered a broken ankle. The driver was cited for running a red light, although she told police she hadn't crossed the light after it turned from yellow to red. (Your correspondent was among those giving a witness statement.)

Like thousands of others, this driver might press her case in court -- and win. Given the volume of cases and scarce police time, it's notoriously easy in San Francisco to beat a traffic ticket. "There are a lot of dismissals," O'Leary says.

Motorists aren't the only ones going to great lengths to avoid traffic fines. As reported last year by SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi, San Francisco cyclists are willing to fight endlessly to beat tickets, seemingly as a matter of principle.

Not every motorist pulled over by a cop complains, it should be noted. On April 12, O'Leary was driving an unmarked car when a cab driver drove on the wrong side of the road to overtake him. "I gave him a lecture and let him go," the captain says, adding that he had little choice because he didn't have his citation book on him. "He took it very well."

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Speeding tickets Toronto
Speeding tickets Toronto

Speeding is dangerous for both the driver and others around him. this is the reason for many crashes so not exceeding the speed limit can be the solution to stop accidents. What I don't like is that some cops abuse o their jobs and instead of pulling over a driver that speeds 70 mph is a 30 area he stops me that I drive with 35 mph...I will never understand this and that's why I hate cops.

Joe Placer
Joe Placer

There is nothing worse to get into more trouble than arguing with the police officer that's writing your ticket. Addressing the officer other words, which can be considered verbal abuse can only allow him to use force and hand you not only the speeding tickets, but another serious charge in your records. And no one wants more trouble with the law.


Really? Half the time they don't even cite bozos with blaring sound coming out of cheap speakers! Or pikers revving their engines for no reason other than to annoy and set off car alarms. Or the idiots that park at hydrants to "just"get a cup of coffee. Let alone the drivers that run reds and gun at the yellow lights. Then we top it off with drivers yaking, texting and fondling their phones while stopping at the middle of the cross walk if they slowed down at all.

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