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Cracked front view

April 9, 2012 - Karin Elton
This weekend my daughter and I had a pleasant time driving to Owatonna. She has a friend there who she wanted to visit. We were treated very well by the people of Owatonna. It was when I was driving back to Marshall that we had a bad experience.

Yesterday around 5 p.m. a state trooper drove by headed east on Highway 59. I automatically checked my speedometer and it showed 55. Yes! I thought.

The car I drive has a cracked windshield. It happened while my husband was driving so I thought he should be the one to get it fixed. After a couple months had gone by without it getting fixed, I should have had it done, but other needs keep getting in the way like groceries and gas.

Well, I got pulled over. Knowing he would ask for my driver’s license, I rummaged through my purse and handed him — my debit card. “Oh, God!” I said, and quickly found my license.

He said he pulled me over for the cracked windshield and said something about me speeding up when I saw him which connotes nervousness.

I don’t usually speed up when I see a cop car. I usually slow down if anything. I told him I looked at my speedometer when I saw him go by and it said 55.

He asked me to get out of the car. He asked if I was going to Marshall to visit someone. I said no. He asked me where I was driving from. That question bothered me. I felt like saying I was an American citizen and demanding to speak to someone from the American Embassy.

Instead I said, “Owatonna. My daughter was visiting her friend.” He wanted to know the friend’s name. I told him the first name. He wanted to know the last name. I told him. He asked me if I had any large sums of money in the car and I said no. He asked me if I had any drugs in the car and I said no. He asked if a drug-sniffing dog came would I pass the inspection and I said yes.

He then went to speak to my “passenger.” He asked her the same questions. She gave identical answers to mine.

He told me to sit down in the ditch so he could run my license. It was a beautiful sunny day but there was a slightly cool wind blowing. I had on a short-sleeved T-shirt and my arms were cold. About a half hour later he got out of the car.

He told me I had hesitated before answering questions which was suspicious behavior. I wondered to myself how many people are relaxed and welcoming when they get pulled over by a squad car. He asked if he could search the vehicle.

I hesitated again. (It’s called “thinking.”) What if I said no? Would he run me into jail? How awful!

I said yes. I asked him if I could get my jean jacket. After inspecting the pockets, he let me put it on. I asked if I could get my Kindle because I was bored sitting there. I handed it to him first because I knew he would want to inspect the carrying case for drugs which he did.

After telling my “passenger” that she had to sit in the ditch next to an plowed field quite a ways away from me, he called for back-up. Another state patrol trooper came with gloves and they looked through my luggage which contained dirty laundry. They looked through my daughter’s makeup case which she later said they didn’t screw on the tops enough and powder came out.

I sat on the dry ditchweeds and read “Game of Thrones” on my Kindle and glanced up every once in awhile to look at what the officers were doing.

I wondered what people thought when they drove by and saw an old Cadillac with a cracked windshield and no hubcaps being searched by two state patrol officers and two people sitting far away from each other in the ditch. I’ve never seen something like that before. I felt like crying but I didn't.

He finally said that we could “hop” back into the car. As I got up I noticed the weeds had poked my ankles and drew blood which didn’t hurt and that I had a sliver in my left palm which did hurt a little.

I started the car to go, but he turned the siren on. I realized he hadn’t given me back my license and insurance card. A minute later he gave me those items and a warning ticket for cracked windshield and “unsafe lane usage on laned highway.” I didn’t know what that meant. He asked me if I had any questions but I didn’t want to further our relationship one second longer so I didn’t ask about “unsafe lane usage.” Maybe I hadn’t pulled over far enough?

I was shaking when I pulled back onto the road. I couldn’t stop talking about it with my family when I finally got home. It had felt so awful sitting on the ground. The officer was professional and performed according to standard operating procedure, but nevertheless I was made to feel like I was a scum-sucking drug dealer.

My daughter and I did laugh in the car when I told her I tried to give him my debit card instead of my license, but that was the only funny part.

I’ve been pulled over before for a broken headlight, lapsed tabs, going over the center line and not scraping my rear window very well after a late March snowfall. So it certainly wasn’t my first cop stop. But this latest was by far the worst. I realize I was in the wrong by not getting my windshield fixed, but I think that was just an excuse to pull me over. I think I got pulled over because I drive a junky looking car and I’m probably guilty of something. I don’t know, but it sure was awful.

 
 

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