Monday, August 31, 2009

Cook County's finest vs. my Cobra

I had wanted one for years. After Thanksgiving 2007, I saw one on sale--unbelievably, less than $50. So I splurged and bought my first radar detector.

I don't like leaving it connected in the car because I think it invites theft. I know at least one person who has had her car broken into numerous times, and she doesn't have any accessories like a radar detector or GPS. So I only set it up when I'm taking a long drive. Sunday was one of those times. I took I-294 to I-90 northwest to Randall Road, down to North Avenue in St. Charles--a distance of about 50 miles.

On expressways, tollways and freeways, Americans typically have two choices: exceed the speed limit or get run over. While most speeding tickets are for 9+ mph over the limit, the traffic court judge issues the standard warning at the beginning of her court call: one mile over the limit is still illegal. So if a police car wants to ticket a motorist, he almost always can. I saw on YouTube a boast by a police officer that he can identify a traffic violation by any driver after following him for just four blocks. My point is: I don't use the Cobra specifically so I can break the law without being punished. It really doesn't work that way. If a police officer who is not using radar sees me speeding, he can probably paint me with his gun before I have a chance to slow down. I use it to fight back against cops lying in wait for unsuspecting motorists who are truly following the flow of traffic. The resultant ticket is "arbitrary and capricious"* if everyone is going 75mph. McCormick Boulevard, at Albion: on a grassy knoll. Farther north, at Dempster: behind a park sign. Dempster Street, in Morton Grove: Shoe Carnival parking lot. Yesterday, on I-90 near Sears Centre: behind an old building. This trap was set up in advance with Cook County Sheriff's deputies in at least three separate squad cars, most likely using the Wisconsin Play**: one would hit motorists with his gun and radio to his colleagues, who would chase then down the speeders. Fortunately, thanks to the Cobra having a panic attack, I knew the cops were there. Others were not so fortunate.

Is lying in wait for motorists on a pedestrian-free roadway (I-90) where most drivers are safely driving approximately the same speed (until they realized the police presence, anyway) really a positive way to raise revenue for a government entity?

*The U.S. Supreme Court has deemed such punishment unconstitutional.
**Wisconsin state troopers employ the Wisconsin Play on northbound I-94 between the Illinois state line and Milwaukee, hitting mainly Illinois drivers. Speeding isn't really necessary here as the limit is 65mph.

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