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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cell Phone Awareness

A scary moment in time is always getting pulled over. As soon as those sirens go off your heart simultaneously stops then proceeds beating rapidly as the cop walks over. Although I had never been pulled over in high school, in my sophomore year of college I became a cop magnet. I do not know why, but every month I would have an encounter with the cops that could not be for more asinine reasons. Now when I see the black and whites, I usually think, "I should really start issuing citizen’s tickets."

I do believe that cops have a hard job and are courageous for keeping our country safe, but my personal encounters with certain officers sometimes make me forget those that truly represent the men and women known as the LAPD. In my case, it feels like I only get confronted by the cops who give you a ticket for going 5 miles over the speed limit, having an unopened beer on the beach, and for pulling out of the mall parking garage not wearing a seatbelt.

A new type of cop that I can add to my list are the ones who do not know California rules. It is quite the contradiction, I know. There really should be a new Starburst commercial about this. When on my lunch break, I called my coworker asking her if she wanted me to bring her back some lunch. In the middle of our conversation a cop pulled behind me and I immediately threw my phone in the back seat. Although extremely unnecessary, I have been pulled over enough times to know that talking on your cell phone while driving is UNACCEPTABLE no matter what device you are using.

When I got back to the office and explained to my coworker what happened, she forwarded me an email from the CA DMV stating the cell phone laws of CA:

23123. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.

Two additional laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving went into effect July 1, 2008. The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (California Vehicle Code [VC] §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free device. The second law effective July 1, 2008, prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

This email upset me because over the summer while talking on my phone with a hands free device, I was pulled over by a cop who gave me a lengthy lecture about how it was California law that I was not allowed to talk on my phone while driving. He also felt it was necessary to tell me in detail the fines of breaking the law, the first offense will be about $148 and $256 after that. I was so overwhelmed with his criticisms that I was about to cry when he told me that I looked like a nice person and to "Have a nice day." After all that I almost wished he had given me a ticket. I felt like I had just been in a scene from Super Troopers. Even worse, the officer made me so paranoid to use my cell phone while driving that I stopped for 6 months! From the email I concluded either the cop was clearly uninformed or he thought I was still in high school. For this 22 year old, high school was long ago.

While the motto written on cop cars reads "to protect and serve," it can be left to one's imagination over what that really means. I am sure many are pondering this phrase due to higher ticket fines in CA. I certainly do not want to pay $148, and even though I know my rights, I am still going to try not to use my cell phone while driving. In the words of NWA's "F-ck tha Police" I conclude with, "To the police I'm sayin f-ck you punk/Readin my rights and sh-t, it's all junk."



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