Reading about Jodie Foster’s speeding ticket experience reminded me of my own ticket four Sundays ago, and the adage about how important it is to be polite when stopped by the police. In case you missed this bit of celebrity gossip, Jodie Foster was clocked allegedly going 54 in a 35 mile an hour speed zone. Horrors. No, that’s not the gist of the gossip.
What is the story is that she argued with the police, and to make it a bit more interesting, a film crew from truTV’s reality show “Speeders ” was on the scene hoping to get her to sign a waiver so they could use the footage of her getting a ticket. She didn’t sign the waiver. Good for her. Still, Jodie, Jodie, Jodie, do not argue with the police.
According to the news, Jodie sputtered and argued that she was not going that fast. Maybe not. It is true that sometimes speed guns aren’t accurate. However, that said, Jodie, don’t argue. Arguing will get you no where and getting a ticket will not go any faster. You will be on your way when the policeman is finished.
Here’s what I did when I was stopped.
Like Jodie, when the officer stopped me, I was genuinely surprised. I didn’t think I was speeding. In my case, I thought something might have been wrong with my tail light. But, I took the ticket, was polite, and went on my way. At the time, I hoped he would notice just how polite I was and let me go on my way with a friendly warning. No such luck. Next step.
Then I had a lawyer go with me to court. I was still polite, but interested in making sure the ticket would not carry a point. Plus, I had my doubts.
When I talked with the prosecutor, he looked at my record–squeaky clean and then looked at what the ticket said–the officer had written down that I was polite. See? He then told me about people who don’t behave as nicely as I did, took out his pen, and reduced the speed. I still paid the fine–politely.
All in all, I left the courtroom feeling good. While I sat in traffic court watching case after case of people being polite and the prosecutor and the magistrate looking to cut them a fair break, I thought about how civility does pay off. From what I remember, everyone received some sort of break. No one got off, but everyone got a break–even the guy who kept forgetting to take off his hat. Each time he took it off, he apologized for forgetting-politely.
Jodie, next time, save it for court. You’ll be able to have your say, but be nice. To be fair, with the camera crew in on the scene, I can imagine how it would be hard to not lose it. No one was interested in my ticket. As polite as I was, it would have made for dull TV anyway.
By the way, I was one of the only people to have a lawyer. According to this article, having a lawyer is a good idea. Ever since my day in court, I am carefully watching my speed. I wouldn’t want to let that nice prosecutor down.