I was thinking the other day about getting pulled over by the police while towing a car, which happened to me a few times.  We were all talking at the house about car accidents and tickets, and I really think how many miles you've logged should be taken into consideration. When you're driving 500 miles a week at work, or more, of course you're going to get into a few more fender benders.

There's a degree of professional courtesy between police officers and tow truck drivers.  Unfortunately, sometimes it's a low degree.  It's really a crapshoot.  You might get an officer who got towed away at some point and now they have an agenda.

  At one point when I was a driver I was given an assignment to record everything I did during my shift for a week.  I think it was the insurance company who was doing some kind of research.  Anyway, I was known for my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, so I took it to heart and scribbled down times and every change of status and locations and whatnot for a week, typed it up (yes, "typed" it up--this was awhile back), and turned it in.  Which is the first time my bosses got to hear about my run-in with Portland's finest.

I was impounding an abandoned van, with no tires and wheels.  I was driving an Eagle Claw, so I frame-forked one end and set the other end up on dollies.  I chained the suspension down to the dollies and down to the wheellift.  It was still a little iffyy--there was a
lot of play in the hookup--things moving around and shifting during stops and starts.

I didn't have far to go, maybe 3 miles, but there's a river intersecting Portland, so I had to go across a bridge, and I chose a non-freeway
bridge where the traffic was relatively light.  It was an early summer evening, after rush hour.  The first problem I ran into was driving down an urban street, where I came up to a stop light, and I was cruising slowly--about 20 mph--and the light changed.  I had enough time to stop, but I really didn't want to stop quick with the load I had, and I could see that there was no cross-traffic, so I rolled through.  I did not accelerate.  The light changed to red about halfway through.

I didn't know, but there was a patrol car behind me.  He didn't make his presence known.

The next intersection was a bigger problem. It was a stop sign, where I had to turn left or right onto a busy street.  Although traffic was light, cars kept coming from different directions, and the road had turns in it, making it difficult to see far in either direction.  Thinking back, I should have avoided that by taking a different street that put me at a stop light, instead of a stop sign.  Finally, after waiting for quite awhile, I eased out slowly, and sure enough, a cab came flying around the corner, so I reached down and switched on my overhead lights.  I was already out in the street, so there was no going back.  He slowed down, and I coasted through the intersection, and then I heard
the siren.

So, here I am, towing this abandoned van with no tires and wheels, FOR THE CITY, and the patrol car has been following me.  He
could have pulled up and offered to escort me through the intersection.  He could have looked the other way when I cautiously flipped on my overheads.  But he didn’t. I don't have a problem with any of that.  It's what happened AFTER all that that was kind of twisted.

He pulled me over, and asked for my info.  I was polite.  I'm always polite when I get pulled over.  He started asking me questions, like why
did I run the light, and did I know that it was illegal to drive with the overheads on.  I explained why I had done what I did.  Then he
asked, "What are you on?"  I really honestly did not know what he was getting at.  Then he said, "Your pupils are like dots! What are you on?"  Well, it was late afternoon, and we were parked facing the setting sun, so my first thought was that I was looking toward the sunlight, which would cause my pupils to get smaller.  I hazarded that guess.  He made me get out, and we went through a sobriety test, minus the breathalyzer.  I was a little unnerved, but had no problem because I was not "on" anything. He was adamant that I spill my guts about what kind of drugs I was taking.  I think I actually looked around to see if there was a hidden camera somewhere, because I've had tricks played on me before.  He seemed very serious, so I didn't challenge him at all, even though he was the one who was clearly  impaired.

He had me get back in the cab and let me sit there awhile, and then he approached the door and told me that he was letting me off with a
warning.  After all that, not even a ticket.  Are there drugs that make your pupils smaller?  I thought it was dilated pupils they were supposed to look for.  To this day, I don't know what that officer's agenda was.  My bosses read the report and were just as amazed, but they took that part out before forwarding it to the insurance company.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper

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