One very early Monday morning in 1995, I was pulled over for rolling through a stop sign in Detroit. The sign is on 8 Mile, heading east, as you come off I-75. It was about 5:30AM, and I had been at the Page/Plant concert the night before. I missed the sign. I received a $94 ticket. This ticket kicked off a 4 month spree where I received 4 tickets, got kicked out of AAA, and had to switch to PLPD.
On the back of a ticket, there are three boxes:
1) Deny Responsibility (go to court)
2) Admit responsibility (pay full amount)
3) Admit responsibility with explanation (try to get it reduced).
I chose Option #3. This was my explanation, sent October 20, 1995.
To Whom It May Concern,
I received a citation, early on the morning of October 16, 1995, at I-75 and 8 Mile Road East. I rolled through the stop sign, where the two roads merge. I realize the severity of this type of infraction. Approximately 44 Percent of all automotive fatalities occur at intersections. I could have easily been another statistic.
However, I feel that I had a valid reason for coasting: Heading north oh I-75 in the left lane around Davison, I encountered a rusted out ’73 Primer Gray Trans Am parked on the right shoulder. I counted 3 or 4 men in that car. As I passed, the Trans Am rapidly accelerated and touched my rear bumper. The driver backed off and flashed his high-beams. These could have been gang members, out for an initiation death ritual, or escape convicts, out for gas money at any cost. I read the headlines every day! I know what goes on.
In panic, I switched to the center lane and accelerated. The Trans Am pursued, but soon slowed down. I exited at 8 Mile, hoping to “lose” the Trans Am, and the potential death threat therein. In my haste, I coasted through the stop sign, but only after looking both ways. The stop sign was not at an intersection—it was a merge. The sign was on the right, with traffic on the left. To be more effective, the sign really should be on the left side, because that is where the driver is looking. You could put those one-way blinders on so the 8-mile east traffic does not stop.
After going to college in Detroit for four years, I have several close friends who were victims to senseless crimes—car jacking, armed robbery, rape, and assault with a knife to the throat (which left a scar). All occurred because the victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time—on the streets after dark.
The shock of my incident rendered me silent. I was in the wrong place in the wrong time, and was lucky to ever again see the light of day. I feel no remorse for my actions, if they allowed me to see my family and continue to build the life toward which I have worked so hard. I was not given the opportunity to justify my actions. The officer, neither rude, nor polite, took my license, registration, and proof of insurance, and returned with my citation.
I am aware that traffic laws are enforced for my safety, and for that of the other drivers that I encounter. I also know that these laws are not flexible. I request some leniency in my case. I am not asking for absolution, but these points count toward my driving record, and there will never be an asterisk next to them stating the root cause. I would greatly appreciate any assistance available. Thank you for your consideration. Here’s to a new day!
They reduced my ticket from $94 to $30. I found out later that I “earned” 2 points.
Here was my thank you note, sent 3/16/1996:
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing back in gratitude regarding my October 16 citation. I wrote a letter detailing my brush with death, and the circumstances early on the morning of October 16 that lead me to roll through the stop sign at 8 Mile/I-75 merge (see attached letter). You responded to my request for leniency by reducing my $94 ticket to $30, which I am happy to pay, as my disregard for traffic safety, while justified due to the sequence of events that occurred moments before, could have lead to a fatal accident. I have enclosed my check.
In the mean time, I have spent a few hours a week visiting a local elementary school and talking to the children about the importance of staying off the streets after dark, and not talking to strangers. I feel that this lesson will pay off down the road. Some of the children have mailed me little posters and drawings reflecting the message I relayed. To me, this is rewarding—to know that the message is clicking. If I can save one child from being in the wrong place at the wrong time (as I was), I have made a difference. I have enclosed one of those drawings. My refrigerator door is full!
I truly appreciate the leniency that I have received. The streets may never again be safe, but it is nice to receive this type of understanding!
Have a great day!