Utah Highway Patrol troopers answer your questions
Ever had something you really wanted to say that trooper pulling you over for a speeding ticket but just didn’t have the guts to say out loud?
Two troopers in the Utah Highway Patrol, Lt. Matt Spillman and Sgt. Ruby Taylor, opened themselves up to just that when they agreed to appear on KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic for a segment called “Ask A Trooper Anything.”
KSL Newsradio’s listeners sent in their questions about life as an officer, how to handle getting pulled over, and just what, exactly, can get you in trouble on Utah’s roads.
Will crying get me out of a traffic ticket?
“It’s specific to the officer,” Spillman admits.
Spillman wouldn’t exactly go as far as saying that there was no chance that breaking into tears when an officer pulls you over might help you get away with a warning, but he did say that it wasn’t the best way to handle it.
“Being honest is the biggest thing,” he says. When someone he pulls over honestly owns their own behavior, he says, he often lets them off a bit easier than if they try to argue or lie. “You might get a warning, or, if you do get a speeding ticket, it might be a whole lot less.”
Do I still need to get my vehicle inspected?
About one year ago, Utah got rid of mandatory vehicle inspections, but Spillman and Taylor say that doesn’t change the state’s safety standards. Any vehicle that wouldn’t have passed the inspection before, they say, is still illegal to drive, and they warn that they are checking.
“We’re putting some things in place to … get our troopers to look at equipment on every single stop,” Spillman says. If you’re caught driving an unsafe vehicle, they say, you could get a Fixit Ticket giving you 14 days to get it fixed, an outright citation, or even a vehicle repair order that, if not followed, could result in your losing your vehicle’s registration.
But Utah Highway Patrol troopers don’t have to pull you over to know if something’s wrong, Taylor says. “It’s possible, while driving, to just take a good look at the car next to you,” he told Dave & Dujanovic’s listeners. “You can tell if the tire thread’s gone.”
The troopers shared one tip, though, that can help keep the cost of an inspection low. When you visit a safety inspection station, they say, all you have to do is ask for a “state safety inspection”. As long as you use those words, Taylor says, they can’t charge you any more than $30 for a passenger vehicle.
Do you really enforce the HOV lane?
More than a few people, it seems, are fed up with slow drivers clogging up the carpool lanes. One texter sent in a message asking: “Can we just start yanking people out of the HOV lane below the speed limit?”
“We do make those stops,” Spillman responded, before admitting: “Would I say it’s one of our top priorities? No.”
The Utah Highway Patrol, he explained, tend to focus on things that can put peoples’ lives in jeopardy over everything else. And as frustrating as it can be to be stuck behind a slow driver, going under the speed limit in the HOV lane, he says, usually doesn’t end with anyone dead.
Be honest: How fast can I go before I get a ticket?
“70 miles an hour,” Taylor says. On a Utah highway, he insists, if the speed limit’s 70 miles and you’re going faster, you’re at risk of getting a ticket.
Taylor and Spillman were goaded on heavily by hosts and listeners alike to give a higher number, but neither man would back down from putting the speed limit as the absolute maximum speed anyone in Utah can drive.
“If you exceed that in any way, shape or form,” Spillman agreed, “you are taking a chance.”
Can I take the next exit before pulling over?
If you see those blue and red flashing lights behind you and realize that Utah Highway Patrol trooper is trying to pull you over, Spillman and Taylor say that it’s safe to get off the highway before stopping. You just have to make sure that the officer knows what you’re doing.
“Turn on your hazards,” Taylor advises, and make sure that you head toward the exit slowly. “We’ll wait if we understand you’re taking the next exit.”
Oh — and, Taylor says, you also need to actually pull over.
What excuse will get me out of a ticket?
It’s not impossible, Taylor admits, to have a good enough excuse to get away with a ticket – but it’ll take something pretty spectacular. Something like giving birth.
“I’ve stopped someone that was speeding. What was actually happening was that we had someone in the vehicle who was in labor,” Taylor says. With the man’s wife actually physically in the backseat, struggling through labor pains, Taylor didn’t bother handing out a ticket.
But that didn’t mean that he let the couple go right back to speeding. Instead, he says, he called an ambulance to bring the couple to the hospital safely. That, Taylor says, it is what the couple should have done in the first place.
“You don’t have to put yourself at risk.”
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