Stop Means Stop

A day in the not so distant past started fairly well.  Kids woke up early, got off to school, kissed the remaining girls goodbye and headed to work.  Little did I know that this Thursday would be like no other we’ve experienced.

Shortly after 10am I got a call from my lovely wife.  She didn’t sound cheerful and was frantically asking for the car registration certificate.  Only one things could have happened – she had been stopped by the police.

And, she had!

Now, it’s not the first time she had crossed paths with the law, but that was back in Ireland.  I was getting curious as to what she had done this time.

Within seconds of the first call, she rang again.  This time she was much less cheerful, in fact the opposite, and kindly asked me to get my arse over to where she had been pulled over.  Apparently not just for one traffic violation, but three.

  1. She ran a stop sign, while checking out the route on the GPS – which I had warned her about many many many times
  2. She failed to show the car registration certification (which I had safely in my valet, despite it should have been with the car)
  3. She ha shown her Irish driver’s license, which the kind officer stated was not a legal or approved driver’s license in the US

To be fair to us, we had started the process to obtain the US license some months ago, but due to a few unforeseen incidents, we had postponed the need to sit the test.  Anyway, the local DMV office had provided us with a permit, while we were in the transition period.  Unfortunately they had failed to inform us that we couldn’t use this certificate as a driver’s permit.

Anyway, I jumped in the ol’ El Camino, fired up the V8 and drove home to the house to collect the “famous” permits and the iPad.

See, we’ve been here some time, but that doesn’t mean I know the roads.  We rely heavily on the bloody GPS device and that was stuck in the bigger tank, which my wife had been violating the law in.  Thankfully my wife had given me the address, but I still needed some directions.

I jumped back into the El Camino and fired up the iPad.  Checked the battery – 10%!!

Oh well, I knew parts of the way, so made my way across the county to rescue my smooth criminal wife.  Along the way I did wonder if I would get pulled over for using the iPad as a GPS, which would’ve been typical.

I found the crime scene easily.  The friendly officer had left the blinks on, so I could see them – much to the embarrassment of my wife, as all traffic passing by were doing the usual rubbernecking, checking out if it was a famous South American drug lord being busted.

I parked the El Camino behind the cop car and walked up to the officer.  She jumped out, ready for action.  I introduced myself and she kindly removed her hand from the holster … or was it the taser.

She briefly explained to me what offense we were facing, and that she was only doing her job.  I admitted we had screwed up and was willing to settle the bill + tips, until the officer shared another piece of information with me.

As it turns out, the permit issued by the DMV was not a valid driver’s permit, and the Irish license was not a valid or accepted license either, so my dear wife was driving as an unlicensed driver.  As a result, she was “not allowed to drive the vehicle, sir!”.

At the back of my mind, I was struggling whether I should share the fact that I too was driving unlicensed, given I was in the same process as my wife.  I decided to share that information, but quickly added that we were of course not aware of this and were willing to go take the test in the morning.  And, we have no friends in the US who could collect the cars anyway + we had two other kids coming home from school shortly.  I could almost feel the string orchestra behind me.

Something must have worked, as the officer suddenly smiled and said calmly “let me see what my superior says”.  She had called for reinforcement!  Was that good or bad?

The sergeant came in a super cool suped up Dodge Charger.  I had to hide my drool and 1 mile stare, as he pulled in.  He was a very nice officer.  He heard the story from the officer, and called me over.  This was make or break here.

He also smiled at me and said “sir, you are not allowed to drive on those certificates or foreign licenses!  But, we are leaving the area now and we suggest you do too.  Capice?”.

I had seen godfather, and knew exactly what he meant.  I thanked the officers and swore that we would pay the tickets and get the US license within days.  Then, I ran to my wife and told her to take off.  She was still pretty shaken about her criminal escapades, but we made it home without any further violations.

Here’s the difficult bit.  You need a car to get around the area and I still had to get to work.  Given that I hadn’t received a ticket or warning, I headed to work in the Camino – keeping within speed limits and giving the police no excuse to pull me over … other than driving in an old gang colored pimp-my-ride looking car.

Back at the office. The phone rang.  It was from home.  Oh no, more trouble!  It was my wife, still upset, demanding that we get a lawyer.  She has seen this on Law & Order before, and she did not want to go to jail.  I frantically tried to explain to her not to believe everything she reads on the web and that she was not that kind of offender.

But, stubborn minded as she is, she demanded that I called Cochran.  I was more inclined to contact Tony Soprano.  Either would have been good, but I found an excellent lawyer (attorney) through some work benefits.

She advised me to plead not guilty, go to court and fight.  I liked her Michael Collins attitude up to St. Paddy Day, so we arranged the court date.

Coming home that evening, it was strange to look at my wife without seeing a smooth criminal.  What would be next?  Could I sleep safe at night?  Would she steal my wine?

All these questions were spinning in my head, but I decide to trust my instinct.  I cuffed her to the bathtub shower and went to bed …. just kidding!

So, we met a couple of friendly police officers, were introduced to the US traffic violation system, hired a lawyer and were ready to fight for our rights.

All in all, a new experience and an altogether different Thursday.

…. we’ve since then, actually within days of this wake-up call, visited the local DMV and passed the test + received our official US driver licenses.

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