Thursday afternoon, I went over to my studio, which is about 10 miles from my house. Normally, I never see cops on the road, so I was a bit surprised that there was one clearly following me.
Texting and driving? Nope. Seatbelt on? Yep. OK, the light-bar on top of my truck is probably illegal but I have a wrench that I can use to turn it so it’s facing the roof when I’m not using it. Cops have never hassled me about it anyway.
The red and blues started flashing on the straightaway so I turned NPR up, turned on the hazards, and pulled over.
Both cops got out – one hung back where he could see me, with his hand on his sidearm. <— bad sign!
The other came around and (since they appear ready to kill, I turn NPR down) asked me “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Let me see your license and registration…” etc. Then he goes back to his car. His partner is still standing there ready to shoot me. I am not liking this at all.
Then the cop comes back and asks me “Have you been in Virginia lately?” Well, yes, I drive down to Dulles airport sometimes, and I have a meeting at a company in Virginia next week, and … he interrupts me, “Your plate is coming back as ‘Stolen’ from the Virginia State Police.”
“Whoah!? Really!? No, I bought this car fair and square. If you want to, we can go home and I’ll get the key for my safe deposit box and we can do into Clearfield and I’ll show you the title.”
He goes back to his car for a bit then the lights turn off. His partner goes back to the cop car and gets in. The cop comes back around, “It turns out your Pennsylvania plate is the same as a stolen Virginia plate.”
“OhhhhHHHHHHH!!! You must be using those new license plate scanners, huh? How do you like them?” [stderr]
The cop walks away and leaves. Rude.
Does this mean I’d better drive my Honda down to Virginia, if I don’t want to die in a hail of bullets? Will Pennsylvania police get license plate scanners that can read the state name as well as the plate number?
Another pair of things I learn from this:
- As predicted, Pennsylvania is “searching” people at random as they drive by. There is no probable cause.
- Virginia is sharing information, so there is – at a minimum – some central registry for license plates that are flagged to pull over.