Ask a Cop – October 2010

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Dear Cop,
So last May, a couple of underage friends and my self (also underage) were coming back from a party in Sandy. I had a few drinks that night, but not enough to have gotten a buzz or affect my driving skills. Now, as I’m making a right hand turn I see these wonderful red and blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror. The cop told me he had pulled me over because he ran my plates and it showed I had no insurance, which was true. So he went about his business and asked for all the usual shit. I also didn’t have my license on me. He came back and asked me if we had anything to drink that night, I lied and said no. He made me do the whole sobriety test and I passed, then he pulled everyone out of the car, breathalyzed us and then searched our car. He found an open container that belonged to the girl who was sitting behind me, my friend’s and my fake ids and an empty 30 case of Pabst, which he gave us shit for drinking. The cop only wrote one ticket to the girl who had the open container and then told me to get a ride home and park my car at the gas station across the street. So, home boy cop calls my friend and I 11 months later, by this time we’re 21, and he wants us to come down to the station and sign a minor in possession ticket, which we didn’t do, cause we thought it was complete bullshit. Another month goes by and he is now threatening us by saying he’ll issue warrants. Now my question is, can this super awesome cop charge us a year later for an MIP when we are now 21, and then send out warrants for such a thing? I mean don’t you guys have better things to do than give two kids tickets a year late?

Dear Gypsy

Yes, they can charge you.  You’re well within the statute of limitations.  However, as you clearly detected with your own bullshit meter, something is wrong.  Actually, something is very wrong.  Here are the things that you and the cop did correctly:

Drinking PBR.  Awesome beer!

He can stop you for not showing insurance on his computer. That’s reasonable suspicion.

Yes, he turned on his red lights to stop you.  He should do that.

Yes, he should ask for all your documents.

………………well, that’s about it. 

Here is what seems wrong with what happened that fine night in Sandy, Utah:

If you think you’re not impaired after a few drinks, well that’s like me saying I’m a better bowler after a case of PBR.

The moment you blew in the portable breathalyzer test (PBT), which as you admitted would have shown alcohol in your system, you should’ve been under arrest.

Everything else the cop did or didn’t do is all wrong.

Utah has a law for those who drink and drive under the age of 21.  It’s called, “Not A Drop.”  It means you can’t have one drop of alcohol in your system and get behind the wheel.  .08 BAC doesn’t even apply to you anymore, because you weren’t allowed to have one drop of alcohol and drive.  Your friends, sure, minor in possession by consumption.  But you, Not A Drop DUI!

The fact that he let you go, knowing that you were underage and had alcohol in your system, that’s the kind of thing cops get fired for.  God forbid one of your friends had been under 18, his behavior could’ve bordered on neglect.  Law Enforcement has policies in place to protect you and the cops.  If you had returned to your car after he left, drove away and got in an accident, the cop not only could, and he probably would have been fired, he’d also be sued and lose everything.  This cop violated too many policies to count in just one incident.

To come back at you, 11 months later, and ask you and your friends to sign a ticket, I’ve never heard of that in 20 years.  I’ll make a guess that this cop is in some trouble, and it’s probably related to his alcohol enforcement of underage drinkers or drivers.  He’s trying to clean up some mess he’s in, and you and your friends are part of his clean up.  His sergeant probably found your fake ID’s in the cop’s car, and he couldn’t answer why “seized evidence” of a crime wasn’t booked.

Could a prosecutor file charges against you? Yes, they could.  Would they? I doubt it.  But, for you to go in and sign a ticket almost a year later, that’s unheard of.  The normal process would be for the cop to screen charges against you now with the prosecutor.  Prosecutors issue warrants, not cops.  Cops enforce the warrants.

I am not a lawyer, and I actually know very little about the law other than enforcing it.  But, as you know, something is so wrong with this you’d be dumb not to talk to a lawyer before you do anything or this cop continues pestering you.

I’m with you Gypsy, God save the Roma people!