This past week my family went on a vacation to the beaches along the Florida Gulf Coast. We have driven this route several times and are familiar with the speed limits and also the speed traps along the way. I’ll admit, I’ve never been one to drive slow but have only ever received two speeding tickets in my many many many (far TOO many!) years of driving. I also have friends who are police officers who have given me many suggestions for managing my speed along highways. As a result, I never go more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. I must be getting old, because lately my average has been roughly 5-7 miles per hour over.
As we were on our way to our vacation, we drove along a particular stretch of interstate highway along the Atchafalaya Basin (amazing – I spelled that without having the spell check correct me!) where the speed limit is 60 mph. I know that there are often police along the raised highway so I set the cruise control at a cool 65. There were four cars clumped together with me in the left lane and two immediately behind and the fourth car a bit further back in the right lane. I saw the police car up ahead and as I passed I saw him hit his brake lights and knew that he was going to pull me over. I slowed down and got into the right lane as he drove up behind me. I pulled over to the side of the road and he motioned for me to get out of the car. I did so with my driver’s license and insurance in my hand.
I should note that I have a very healthy fear of the law and shake when I get pulled over. It makes me very nervous. I walked back to his car where he stood in front of his bumper and he said, “Ma’am, I clocked you doing 74 when the posted speed limit is 60 mph.”
It took me a minute to pick my jaw up off the concrete shoulder and I said, “Officer, with all due respect, I promise you that I wasn’t going 74 mph.” The look on my face must have been something he wasn’t used to seeing when pulling someone over because the look on his face changed as well. I think he knew that I was being sincerely honest in my statement.
I told him, “Officer, I know that I wasn’t going 74 because I know that I was going 65 mph – 67 perhaps as I was passing another car, but I promise you it wasn’t 74 mph.”
He paused for a moment while looking at me and knew that I was telling the truth. The odd thing was that I was telling the truth – while also revealing that I had been speeding by 5-7 mph. I think he was somewhat perplexed by this but knew in his heart that there must have been a mistake. He said to me, “Ma’am, I’m going to take your word for it.” and let me go.
I got back in the car and my husband looked at me asking what had happened. As I told him, he put his hand up for me to give him a high five. “Way to witness!” he said.
The whole experience was rather interesting, but it really did make me realize what a great example it had been of the power of telling the truth – even when there is a risk involved. While I was not happy to have been pulled over with my kids in the car and had to explain to them, they were also aware of the significance of how the truth had set me free at that very moment.