“Any reason why you were going so fast?”

I was pulled over during my afternoon commute today. It happened two blocks from my home, and right in town for everyone to see.

The officer walked slowing to my car. He looked into my open window and smiled.

“Good afternoon, ma’am.”

“Afternoon,” I answered.

He was very young and handsome, this police officer. Great teeth. Looked like Ponch. I didn’t tell him that, of course. In the first place, he was probably too young to know about CHiPs, and in the second place, it is probably racist of me to think that every good looking Hispanic guy in uniform favors Erik Estrada (but, so help me, they do).

“Ma’am, I pulled you over because you were speeding.”

“I’m sorry.” I said.

“You were going 51 in a 35,” he said. “Any reason why you were going so fast?”

I hate this question. What will it say about me if I say no? Will it imply that I broke the law and drove recklessly for funsies? That is no good. But if I say, yes, and then tell him where I am going, it sounds like I am making excuses; like I’m trying to beg my way out of a ticket.

“I mean, I am on my way home. My little boy has orientation at school tonight. We are going to meet his teacher and see his classroom.”

“I see,” said Ponch.

“But like, orientation goes until six tonight, so, I mean, I shouldn’t have been speeding.”

As a speech therapist, I regularly ask my patients questions without really being interested in the content of their answers. I am listening to see if they are loud enough. If they can get through a sentence on one breath. If their grammar is okay. If they can make sense and stay on topic. I suspect police officers are doing something similar when they ask us questions like Any reason you were going so fast?, because let’s be honest; if we had legitimate reasons for speeding, if we were hurriedly transporting an injured family to the emergency room or something like that, odds are we would relay that information to the authorities without being queried. I think the police officers are gauging, based on our reactions, whether or not we deserve to be one of the X number of tickets they are required to write on that given day.

“Can I see you license and registration?”

He took the requested cards back to his patrol car and returned with a slip of yellow carbon paper.

“I’m going to give you a warning,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said.

So there it is. I started my new job in May, and this is the first time I’ve been pulled over. I am officially a commuter.



13 Comments on ““Any reason why you were going so fast?”

    • My understanding is that officers probably have quotas for how many tickets they give out, but they do have some discretion. There is a human element on which they can choose not to give a ticket to a speeder with an emergency, and in such a case they often will provide a police escort to increase safety.

  1. Here in Andalucia, most policeman only hand out tickets to people they don´t know, or don´t like. Locals and family members are generally free to speed, park on pedestrian crossings, pavements (sidewalks), and anywhere else they want. They can drive with a few beers under their belt and break as many traffic laws as they like. I often see local officers stopping off for a beer break with their pals while on patrol.

  2. As a speech expert, you should know this one: they’re gauging your sobriety by your articulation. If you fail to raise any of their trained red flags, controlled substances is the last box to tick off. They’re just covering the bases, I’ve heard the stories.

    FYI: Asking “Did the mints work?” is a bad opener. Also not recommended:

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