Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Driving Too Slow Without A Seatbelt In Fort Worth

Update: It is a couple months since I was ticketed for not wearing a seat belt while driving 10mph in Fort Worth. I complied with the ticket and indicated I wanted a jury trial to plead my case that I had not violated the spirit of the law. I have not heard back from Fort Worth. Case Closed. End of Update: On to Original Post....

Like I said in the previous blogging, I had myself a run-in with Fort Worth's version of the law today, soon after I was done hiking the Tandy Hills.

I got in my vehicle, started it up, turned on the A/C and started to drive. Big Ed put on his seatbelt. I was too sweaty to want to put on my seatbelt and did not see the need, til I reached Beach Street, since I was driving, slowly, on residential streets.

I drove til View Street hit Barron, took a right. Soon thereafter I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. What fresh hell is this, in this hell I'm living, I wondered.

The cop walked up. My window was already down, due to trying to cool off. "What's wrong, officer?" I asked.

"I need to see your license and insurance." I gave them to him.

"Why were you driving so slow?" the cop asked.

"We'd just finished hiking the Tandy Hills and were overheated, I wasn't thinking about driving too slow."

The cop then pointed to Big Ed and said, "He just put on his seatbelt when he saw the flashing lights, didn't he?"

I think this clucklehead cop was thinking he had himself a major bust.

"No," I said, "he put his on before I started moving. I said to him, why do you want that on, it's too hot?"

"I pulled you over because you were driving so slow I could see you weren't wearing your belt," the cop said.

I said, "I saw no need, since, like you said, I was driving slow, I was going to put it on when we got to Beach Street."

This seemed to be one of those cops, like that one who caused a scandal in Dallas, with a lack of an ability to correctly read a situation and make a good call. Instead this cop reinforced the dumb cop cliche, being yet one more example of why law enforcement is held, by so many, in such low esteem.

So, the cop disappeared to his Forth Worth Police Car. After 15 minutes he came back, had me sign something that said "CUSTOMER COPY" at the top. He said something about having 11 days to make an appearance. "That it was all detailed on the citation."

Okay, let's not even talk about the obvious, as in, I'm a grown up. If I choose not to put my seatbelt on when I'm all hot and sweaty and know that I'm going to be driving slow on some residential streets, that is my business, only my business and it certainly is not the business of the Fascists who run Fort Worth like a bunch of crazed Neo-Nazis, over-running bars, beating patrons, throwing innocent people face down on parking lots.

The citation tells me I can go to for more information about my ticket. So, I go there. There is no information about anyone's specific ticket. You can download a fine schedule, which was another bizarre thing. On that fine schedule there is no mention of what the fine is for driving slowly through a residential neighborhood, while sweating profusely without your seatbelt on.

Til today, I had not gotten a traffic ticket, of any sort, in years. Back in modern civilization, when I lived in Washington, a ticket clearly spelled out the fine, your options for paying the fine, or disputing the fine. This idiotic Customer Copy I got in this Third World type municipality has south of the border shakedown written all over it. You can barely read the print. It is small and faded. I'm sure a large number of people can not make sense of what they are expected to do.

Parts of America have really gone off the track. There are reasons we have a higher % of people behind bars than any other nation on earth, us, who are brainwashed to believe we live in the Land of the Free. If you lived in the Land of the Free you could not be stopped by the Gestapo because you were driving slowly through a residential neighborhood, sweating profusely, while not wearing your seatbelt.

Thomas Jefferson was right. For a Democracy to stay free you need a fresh revolution every 20 years or so. I feel like revolting.

I was able to decipher, among my options, that I can have my "case" heard in front of a jury. I believe that will be the option I take.

From what I've heard of other's experiences, the way this works in Fort Worth, is nothing you say to the judge will change anything. I don't even believe they are real judges in the way we think of them in the more advanced parts of the country. The idea that you have to go before a judge, because you didn't have your seatbelt on, explain the extenuating circumstances, with the judge under no obligation to take those into consideration, before imposing what amounts to being institutionalized theft.

I tell you, you people of Fort Worth, this is the corrupt system you get when only 6% of you turn out to vote for your city government. This town needs a revolution and a cleaning up of a very corrupt house.

As you can see, Fort Worth may try to stifle my right to choose to temporarily leave my seatbelt off, but there is not a thing they can do to stifle me from using my right to say whatever I want, to whoever I want, whenever I want. With all do respect to the Fort Worth Court and Police System. All do respect. Which is they are due none.


cd0103 said...

Okay- I must be missing something. I think it is a state law to wear a seat belt. Didn't we just have a huge campaign on "Click it or Ticket"?

I know it is frustrating and yes, they could have given you a warning, but at the end of the day, seat belt usage is mandatory in a moving vehicle.

Durango said...

The law is never black or white, there should always be room for common sense and nuance. Yes, wearing a seatbelt may be mandatory. Currently. I'd just finished hiking. I was HOT and sweaty. I didn't not want to put on the belt til the open air and A/C had cooled me off. I was driving slow, drinking water, on a residential street. Common sense indicates I was no danger to myself or others. Once the cop heard that we'd just gotten done hiking and that I didn't want to put on the belt til I got to Beach Street, he should have just let it go. I don't think it's good to have cops like this. Having cops like this is what leads to incidents like what happened at the Rainbow Lounge. Fort Worth will be a long time in fixing the damage done to its reputation on that one.

Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

You're absolutely right, Mr. Durango. It's a travesty what happened to you today. I have been fortunate in the times I've been pulled over--a headlight burned out & back license plate lights burned out--that I got two very reasonable police officers.

cd0103 said...

I guess I just have a different take on it. If I make a decision to break the law, then I believe I am also responsible. I can drive without the seat belt or I can stay in park with the AC on until I cool off.

Anyway-- You have more guts than I do, hiking in this heat, but I love your posts about all the places you visit. I have learned a lot about Fort Worth parks from you.

Durango Roadtripping said...

Beauty of the modern world. Just like with the outrageous Rainbow Lounge Fort Worth cops out of control incident, while this one is nothing like that, it is a situation where there is yet one more example of how, even a teeny incident like this, can be broadcast and those who read it can verbalize their opinion, either that I was an outrageous scofflaw violating in a serious way a very serious law, or someone who was using his own common sense as to when he needed to be wearing his seatbelt.

Anonymous said...

What were you wearing?

cd0103 said...

Don't you just love the internet?

Durango said...

cd0103--I love your name, by the way. I think part of what bothers me about this incident, is I can see how the same situation could spin out of control, with this type cop. I just acted totally good-natured about it, thinking to myself, this will be such good blogging fodder. Later I realized I should have taken a picture out my rear window of the cop car and flashing lights.

The deal is, technically, I may have broken a law. But I did not break the spirit of the law. That law is designed to make it safer to drive. I was not driving at a speed where a seatbelt was an issue. By the cop's own admission, I was going slow.

Had I acted belligerent I am sure this cop would have turned quite ugly. I would have been slammed around, well, maybe not, Big Ed was along and this cop seemed like he might suffer from Little Man Syndrome.

Regarding hiking the heat. I never would have dreamed, til I moved here, that this would be something I like. In Washington I did not like summer. Hated the 80 degree days! But it feels so good, like a natural sauna. Yeah, that sweating thing when you get back in the vehicle is not good.

Anyway, remember, "Click it or Ticket," don't forget, we live in a Fascist state. One must obey!

Durango said...

Yup, cd0103, the Internet is a wonderful thing. It empowered a bunch of rebellious Iranians, trying to throw off the shackles of a repressive government and could possibly help do the same type thing here in Fort Worth.

Anonymous #1--I was not wearing any seatbelt, but I was wearing cargo shorts. No shirt, though.

Anonymous said...

who cares?

Durango said...

I dunno, Anonymous #2. You? Cared enough to ask "Who Cares?"

Anonymous said...

It is the law that you are supposed to wear a seat belt while in a car, even passengers are supposed to be buckled up, but your right, the spirit of the law was not broken with the speed that you were going. I wonder what the officer would have done had he passed you in a parking lot and saw you not wearing your seat belt? Would you get a ticket for that or would that law not count since you aren't actually on a street?
I've always wondered about that...

I ride a motorcycle, and one thing that has never made sense to me is that I am given the choice on whether or not I want to wear a helmet yet in a car you HAVE to wear your seat belt. Granted I have to have proof of proper insurance to ride without a helmet but why they can't make the same provisions for people who don't want to wear their seat belts is beyond me. I guess they just need to make some rules (laws) so that the city can earn some money.

Hopefully you'll fight this and explain to the judge exactly what was going on and the reasons you made your decision and not just pay the fine... It would make for great blogging! :o)

Durango said...

Uncle Jerry----Thanks for the input. I'm guessing that officer I dealt with today would have jumped at the chance to give someone sitting in a car in a parking lot, not wearing a seatbelt. Another car could have come shooting out of the blue, and hit you, and even though you weren't moving, you should have had your belt on.

I did not know the helmet wearing was optional. That must be a Texas thing, I'm pretty certain it's universal you have to wear them in Washington.

Speaking of Washington. They have banned talking on your cell phone while driving. I found this very annoying when I was up there last summer. I'd be driving and my phone would ring, I'd answer it and my passengers would get all concerned. They are very controlling over how you dispose of litter up there, which I also found taxing. I was constantly getting in trouble. Five different recycle bins, two types of garbage. That which can be composted, and that which needs to go bye-bye forever.

cd0103 said...

Frankly, between you and your readers, I think laws like this are stupid (even though I won't put the car into drive without those in the car having a seat belt on). If I want to be reckless, then why shouldn't I be allowed to. Helmets, seat belts- who cares as long as I don't (or can't) launch a massive lawsuit because I didn't use common sense.

funny-- my name is my initials and my nephew date of bir

I agree with cops with authority syndrome. I think instead of being upset because he enforced the law, it should be I am upset because he was a jerk about it. Some cops just get off on making a big deal out of something that shouldn't be. I could never do that job. I would be worried that every stop was some nutjob wanting to kill me. However, they still need to have compassion and common sense.

nemajo said...

I agree that seatbelt laws are stupid and should be repealed.. same goes for helmets. If people want to increase risk of brain damage, that is there choice. If I was an insurer, I wouldn't cover it though.

As for the cell phones, when you do that you endanger others.. I even saw a study recently that showed how texting and driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving. So in that case, I'm all for the ban.

Durango said...

I don't mind the seatbelt law, I do mind when a moronic cop is not able to process when and when it is not appropriate to enforce that debatable law.

Helmets, I agree, if you wanna risk your life by not wearing one, that's your business. Ironically, in Texas you don't have to wear a helmet.

I sort of agree with the cell phone ban. But I don't like Big Brother Nanny State stuff. It seems un-American, somehow.

Kathy & Earl said...

I am taking the family to Six Flags in a couple weeks, coming in from Kansas. We won't be going to Fort Worth. We had planned on going to the Fort Worth Stockyards but I don't like the way this town treats its people. How do they treat out of towners? We don't need our vacation ruined.

ChipSeal said...

Sheesh! Foolish cop!

Over in Dallas, adults are required by law to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, but it is never enforced unless the police want probable cause for a search.

While riding my bicycle south of Dallas, I have been accosted twice by off-duty police officers attempting to make me obey imaginary laws that existed only in their heads! (Read all about it at, search tag cop)

Durango said...

Thanks ChipSeal---Scratch another town off my list of places, safe to go, free from Fascist cops.

Gar said...

In Italy, where it is not the land of the free. It is completely legal to drive around without your seat belt.

Durango said...

Someday I want to live in a real land of the free, not a pretend one. I hear the land my ancestors came from, Holland, is very liberated. I wonder if it is easy to get an entry visa if you're a descendant? Or does being an American forever leave you tainted? I could move back to Washington, but they took have been taken over by fascism, with forced seatbelt clicking. They also ban cell phones while driving. Then again, naked bike riding is considered okay. It's a conundrum.