State in Full Force
by Trent Nall
This week while
working, I was driving my regular routing schedule around the Las
Vegas area in Nevada. I moved to Las Vegas three months ago to pursue
a job in the healthcare industry. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed
to be going on this day, other than the hundred and ten degree summer
heat throughout the Las Vegas area.
I came to a
stop light and knew that I had to take my regular U-Turn at the
stop light to turn around and go back to a Dr.ís office on the other
side of the street. When the light turned green, I pulled a U-Turn
and began driving about three tenths of a mile to where I needed
to turn into the Dr.ís office. And thatís when suddenly I looked
in my rear view mirror and saw a police officer on a motorcycle
with his lights on. I abruptly pulled over thinking that maybe U
Turns werenít allowed at that stop light, or that I unexpectedly
somehow got a little pedal heavy and was speeding down the road.
While on the
side of the street, I got out my wallet to find my drivers license.
I am driving a black Dodge Avenger rental car still as my company
still hasnít fully moved me to Las Vegas. I roll down my window
and a wait for the officer to approach. Inside of my car, I have
my iPhone in a cup holder to my right, my briefcase on the passenger
seat with a laptop on top of the briefcase. There are also papers
scattered throughout my car with free samples of pens and magnets
in the back seat.
was probably in his mid-thirties, white male, with a buzz haircut.
It looked as though he was previously riding a horse before he got
on his motorcycle as he was wearing a hat and knee high boots like
all officers that you see on horses. When he made it to my window
he said that he needed my license and registration. I handed the
officer my license and the registration that was located inside
of the glove compartment inside of the rental car. He walked away
and went back to his motorcycle for a minute.
When he came
back, he said that he was citing me for a violation of looking at
my cell phone. I paused for a second and said, "What, looking
at my cell phone?" I knew that it was illegal to talk and text
on your phone in the state of Nevada as my work place predecessor
warned me that he had received a ticket for texting and driving.
Also, I am from Indiana and my state just passed a law banning texting
began to explain to me that texting, talking, touching, and even
looking at your cell phone are all violations in the state of Nevada.
I told him that I was from Indiana and had no idea that looking
at your cell phone was a criminal offense. The officer responded
with "itís your job to learn the laws of the state you reside
in." So I followed up with, "I donít understand, how could
you even know if I was looking at my cell phone or not. He proceeded
with, "I saw you looking down." I said, "So if I
look down, itís due to a cell phone, look at all of the stuff in
my car, you canít conclude that." The officer insisted that
he saw me look at my cell phone and that he was citing me and that
I needed to sign his mobile digital signature device so that he
could print me the ticket.
I took his
mobile digital signature device and kept probing. I asked, "What
if I keep my iPhone in the cup holder, keep the lock off, and let
the GPS run?" The officer responded it that would be a violation
as well, even if Iím not touching my phone." This is because
if you are using a GPS, it must be mounted on your dashboard, or
it is a fineable offense. I asked about my laptop, and he said that
if I touch that in the car, he could fine me for that as well. I
was dumbfounded at the things that I suddenly realized turned me
into a violator just by touching an everyday item.
This is when
the officer handed me the ticket and I began to read it. The exact
violation that I received as stated on my ticket is:
looking down at phone being held w/ right hand near his lap, while
moving forward at approx. 45MPH."
how is it physically possible for a police officer to be behind
my car, at least 20 feet away, yet be able to see my lap?
told me to call the number at the bottom of the ticket because he
didnít know how much the fine amount was. I said good day, rolled
up my window, and pulled into the parking lot immediately to the
right of me. While in the parking lot, I tried to dial the number
which leads to the Clark County Municipal Courts. Of course, I stayed
on hold for 15 minutes and an agent never once connected with me
at the other end of the phone.
While on the
phone, I watched three other cars get pulled over for presumably
the same offense. The officer was just camping out around the corner
and appeared to just be pulling over a new car as soon as he finished
with the last one. I gave up trying to call the Clark County Municipal
Courts, so I decided to drive there.
As I pulled
out of the parking lot and looked to my right, down the street on
the other side of the road, there was a police officer over there
on a motorcycle and he was pulling over cars as well. I have to
assume it was for the exact same cell phone offense. I had no idea
that there were so many alleged violators that drove down that road
When I made
it to the Clark County Municipal Court, I thought it was quite interesting
trying to find somewhere to park there. As in Las Vegas, essentially
every single mega hotel has free parking. However, at the Clark
County Municipal Court, parking at the parking garage was $5 for
the first hour, with $5 for every additional hour, up to $20 in
a day. I thought that was rather expensive so I drove right past
it. I tried to find some street parking and eventually did. Luckily,
for street parking, itís $1 for an hourís worth of parking just
one block from the parking garage. I parked my car and went into
the County building.
I was immediately barked at to take off my shoes and remove everything
from my pockets as if I was at the airport getting ready for a TSA
screener. Luckily here, youíre only required to go through a metal
detector and not the full x-ray. When I picked up my items out of
my cubby to put my belt and shoes back on, I was yelled at because
the end of the conveyor belt where the items come out isnít the
"dressing" area. I was told to walk 100 feet down the
hall to a bench. While there, I got situated and made my way to
the ticket violation suite.
I entered the
suite and showed my ticket to the lady at the front desk. She gave
me the dreaded piece of paper with a number on it correlating to
where you are in the queue. I had number 145, and they had only
called number 120. Shockingly, it only took 10 minutes for my number
to be called. I went up to the window and showed the lady my ticket.
She looked at the ticket and said that it will cost me $123 to pay
the fine. I said, "Wow, thatís outrageous!" She told me
that the ticket wasnít entered into the system yet, so that even
if I wanted to pay, I wasnít able to. She informed me that it takes
about 3 weeks for a ticket to make it into the system for you to
be able to pay the fine. I asked about protesting the ticket and
she showed me where the court date was listed on the ticket and
instructed me to show up on that date. I thanked the lady, and made
my way out of the Las Vegas Municipal Court.
I intend to
return in September to protest my fine and see what unfathomable
reasoning the officer might give for as to how he could see anything
in my lap.
Nall [send him mail] Is
a graduate of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and
now works in healthcare in Las Vegas, NV.
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