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June 2, 2013

READERS' FORUM: June 2, 2013

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Beware speed trap in Staunton

If it happened to me, it can happen to you.

On May 20, I was traveling through Staunton on my way home to Brazil with my 2 1⁄12-year-old son. We drive through Staunton instead of traveling U.S. 40 because Staunton is pretty — ponds, trees, corn fields, etc. Right before we approached the four-way stop sign in Staunton, I noticed a police car sitting on the opposite side of the road facing us.

I proceeded to stop at the sign completely and then traveled for about 100 feet and looked in my rear-view mirror and noticed the police car’s flashing lights come on and the car turn around. My first thought was, “He’s pulling me over, why?” So I pulled over, pulled out my driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration cards. As I opened my door, the officer asked if I knew what the speed limit was. “Yes — it is 30,” and then he proceeds to tell me that I was going 41.

Wait, I was going 41 miles an hour, just 100 feet away from having been at a complete stop? No, I wasn’t going 41 mph. Also, why would I be driving that fast right before I come to a very dangerous turn that requires no speed greater than about 15 miles per hour? How dangerous that would be — and did I mention that I was driving with my 2-year-old son with me?

Why would I be speeding when I knew the officer was sitting there waiting for speeders? I was not speeding! I know I wasn’t. And then he asks me if I was heading to Terre Haute. “No. I live right around the corner.” I was just blocks from my home when I got pulled over. Why did he ask if I was heading to Terre Haute? Did he think I was from out of town? I do have a Rose-Hulman license plate. Besides, I was heading in the opposite direction from Terre Haute.

Meanwhile, three mosquitoes have now joined us in the car and are taunting my son. He is upset and wanting to know why we cannot go home. Several minutes later, the officer rejoins us to say, “Oh, you have some precious cargo. Is that your grandchild you have there?”

“No. He’s my son.” So, not only have I gotten pulled over falsely for speeding, I’m being insulted. He then goes on to explain the process with a ticket. I can sign the ticket and only pay $50, which goes to the town of Staunton, or I can contest it and go to court where I will have to pay a fine of $170 and it would be points against my license — which would be my time and more money.

I have a full-time job. I cannot take time off to appear in court, nor do I have that much money for a ticket. Although I was not speeding, I will pay the $50 — which is money that would have been spent on my son — but now will go to the lovely town of Staunton, to be spent on what? To the decrepit town park that has foul language/graffiti plastered on the slides and only has one working swing? Or perhaps to actually clean the garbage off of the streets?

Is the town of Staunton so bad off that they are setting up speed traps to wrongfully accuse those they think are “out of towners” of speeding? If this is the case, I hope you realize that people are not going to want to come to Staunton. Am I the only person that this has happened to? I will not be traveling through Staunton anymore. Lesson learned. Be forewarned, there is a speed trap in Staunton, and although the money is being used for the town — so I’ve been told — the means of getting it is highly suspect.

I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes in my life, but I know when I’ve been wronged, and I was wrongfully accused of speeding. This letter is the only recourse I have to share my experience with others so that it doesn’t happen to them.

— Merry Miller Moon

Brazil

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