General Question

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Is it fair to be arrested for my reckless operation charge?

Asked by FrankHebusSmith (4316points) August 23rd, 2008

I was arrested today for reckless operation of a motor vehicle. This is what happened. I was stuck behind a person who was driving well below the speed limit, and we were at a stop light both turning right. When the light turned green I hit the gas and pulled into the far lane while the slow person took the close lane (both our lanes going the same direction). When I hit the gas my tires squeaked off the line and I accelerated quickly thru the turn and up to about 40 mph (35 mph zone). I then let up off the gas and drove normally for about a half a mile until I noticed the police lights behind me.

The officer said that when the tires squealed it was reckless op. I was arrested, taken downtown, finger printed, photographed, and my car was impounded. After processing me they had me sign a subpoena that I would show up in court on the second, and let me go.

I haven’t had ANY tickets since February of 2005 (speeding 8 miles over the limit). I’ve been pulled over 3 times in the last year, each time for no front license plate (my car sticks out). I have NO other felonies or crimes whatsoever on my record, and am a rather upstanding citizen (volunteer camp counselor, pre-med student, good friend, and I haven’t missed a day of work ever at my government job).

My question is simple. Do you think that the officer was justified in arresting me?

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62 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar


The law seems vague, and open to interpretation. I think the cop was being particular. In L.A. cops drive right by people doing worse.

Another Link.

According to these documents, the first offense for reckless driving is a misdemeanor. What were you charged with? This doesn’t seem right.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I’m looking at the ticket he gave me at the station right now. My charges were reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to display front license plate.

aidje's avatar

(During a turn) / (in an intersection) is never the right time to pass a slow driver. And from a dead stop….

tinyfaery's avatar

So you made a right turn from the left lane? That is seriously dangerous (if that is what you did). But still, nothing in the links I posted above indicates that you should have been arrested, at least from the way I’m reading it.

simone54's avatar

Are you sure you not leaving anything out? Why would they arrest you for this?

jrpowell's avatar

I can’t think of any normal situations where your tires should have “squeaked” while accelerating. Every time I have seen someone “squeak” their tires from a light they were being a douche. It sounds like you were being reckless. Those 30 seconds you saved probably cost you many hours and a lot of cash. I don’t think you should have been arrested. But I don’t feel bad for you.

Judi's avatar

What kind of car do you have that it “sticks out?’ Maybe it is similar to one that they are after for some reason, or…. Have you dated a police officers daughter lately? Once they decide they don’t like someone watch out. They may be looking for a reason to get you and having a car that is so recognizable doesn’t help. Sounds like they have been harassing you for the license plate too. Do you have a corvette? Hauling you downtown is abit drastic. It may have been worthy of a ticket but arrest?

jrpowell's avatar

“I’ve been pulled over 3 times in the last year, each time for no front license plate”

WTF.. Get a front license plate. It isn’t a hard thing to do.

richardhenry's avatar

Your front license plate story is really strange.

RandomMrdan's avatar

he is a friend of mine…he was never read his miranda rights either….do you think he can fight anything with that? I’ve been told if you are taken from the scene of the incident, you have to be read your rights.

Eureka's avatar

first, Ohio is a state that says you HAVE to have a front plate. Get one! The fact that you have been pulled over three times for not having one might have been the straw that broke the camels back with the cop.( Don’t think he didn’t have access to that information), and that might have been the deciding factor between giving you a ticket and arresting you. As for Miranda rights – you can be arrested without being given them. Miranda rights are read ONLY when they are going to interrogate you at the police station or in the police car, and then detain you.There is nothing illegal about arresting someone without the Miranda warning. We have all seen too many tv shows ! But, if the police do change their mind and decide to interrogate the suspect, the warning must then be given. Miranda is for serious, victim involved crimes.

Cardinal's avatar

Where there are 2 plates for a vechicle, you have to have two plates! What is confusing you? I know you must turn into the near lane when making any turn unless so indicated. To pass in an intersectionin town is insane. You might get away with squeaking the tires if you claim it was caused by the thick white stop point at the intersection. They are pretty slippery. With no front plate, I’m thinking you were driving a ‘vette, Camero Firebird or some exotic, so if I were the judge/arresting officer I wouldn’t care what you said.

In my experience and it includes both of these examples, pilots and med students have insatiable egos and are, for the most part, a big pain in the ass (BTW I include myself).

Wondering: full time guvment gig AND a med student!? You seem to be a BS artist also. Don’t pull a muscle patting yourself on the back.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

My advice: Get a front license plate from the state or you will wind up making license plates FOR the state.

jca's avatar

i think you can survey people till you’re blue in the face and what matters is the opinion of the judge. that’s the final decision. all the time people get arrested for things that were not justified, and usually the DA will bank on them just pleading guilty and taking the punishment or fine. you could try getting yourself a lawyer, if you can afford one. maybe the lawyer will get the charge lowered. if you can afford one, it would probably be worth the money. it sounds like you were impatient by passing the person in the other lane, but my opinion doesn’t count, the judge’s does.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I don’t care about the license plate. I mean I don’t expect to be arrested over it, but that ticket I’ll take, as I’ve been warned. I don’t have it on there because I have a nice sports car, it doesn’t even have the connections. I would have to take it to the dealer and pay them 50 bucks to drill the holes in the right spots to mount the 30 dollar piece of plastic (also from them). I have the plate in my window, and since doing that I haven’t been bothered about it since early spring.

It was not a right turn from the left lane, I turned from the right (turning) lane. I was behind the first person, whom pulled into the close lane, I pulled into the far lane.

My cars tires will squeak easily, as it’s a sports car. Had i wanted to I could’ve done a 30 second burnout. I didn’t MEAN to squeak them, I just gave the car a bit to much gas and it jumped.

jca's avatar

i think cops will “target” sports cars sometimes.

it sounds to me like you were impatient, because even sports cars with a lot of power can move from a standing position without squeaking, if you are gentle with them.

again, hopefully the judge with sympathize with you. from what you wrote originally, you said you were not arrested over plate issue, you were arrested over wreckless op due to tires squealing. cops don’t like that, especially in front of them, they take it as disrespect.

Judi's avatar

Have you ever seen a front plate on a Corvette? It just wouldn’t look right and although there are laws, they are rarely enforced because some cars just don’t look right with a front plate.

Judi's avatar

All you’re saying is “sports car.” Why won’t you tell us what kind of car it is?

jlm11f's avatar

“Do you think that the officer was justified in arresting me?” – Yes, I do. And I hope you were lying about the pre-med part.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

It’s a Dodge SRT-4, with 357 horsepower at the wheels. For those not familiar, it’s a big beastly engine put in the frame of a neon, with a turbocharger. If you saw it from a glance, you’d probably think it was an asian compact sports car. It weighs around the same as a Civic, and hence with all that power at those two front wheels and not that much weight pushing it down, it’s VERY easy to spin the tires accidentally. When I was learning to drive it I spun them for a split second virtually every time I hit the gas.

And I was not lying about the premed part, and I’d love to see your reasonings for thinking the officer was justified.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I KNOW what I did was wrong, but it’s not like I kidnapped someone. I did something that probably 50% of drivers do all the time. In fact I saw it twice on my walk home from the courthouse/processing center. While what I did was wrong, I’d hardly think it to be an arrest-able offense, let alone my car being impounded. I literally got the same punishment as someone who gets caught doing 120 on the interstate in a street race. Short of having to spend the night in jail, I’m just short of the punishment a first time drunk driver would receive.

jca's avatar

two wrongs don’t make a right.

if you (or i or anyone) got pulled over for speeding, it doesn’t matter that half the parkway is doing the same speed. you (or i or anyone) got pulled over. same with any crime.

anyway, it doesn’t matter what you or i or anyone thinks it matters what the judge thinks.

simone54's avatar

All I wanna know is why you still don’t have a front license plate. Seriously. Why?

Eureka's avatar

Maybe it was your attitude when he pulled you over? I agree, squealing tires is a long way from reckless operation, but it must fall in the guidelines. However, if you had the sort of defensive “I didn’t do anything others haven’t done” attitude you are showing here, that might have affected the cops behavior toward you. And actually (sadly) I think you should be glad you live in Ohio. If you did (and I am just saying if ) “buck up” at a cop in another state, you might of got the beat down of your life! Anyway, to answer the question – you got arrested.If it was justified or not is a matter for the legal system to actually decide.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I didn’t really mouth off, in fact the only words I got out of my mouth prior to being put into hand-cuffs was “no, I do not” (when asked if I wanted to go to jail).

simone54's avatar


FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I don’t have the plate up front because I have a nice looking car, that doesn’t even have the front license plate mount. I looked into getting it put in after the first warning for it, but they wanted 50 dollars to drill holes in my car at the right spots for the mount, and another 30 for the piece of plastic that was the mount. As 2 of the 3 officers who had pulled me over for it said they used it only as an excuse to see if I was drunk or wanted, and didn’t really care about it, I decided putting it in the window would be sufficient. And it has been, I’ve not been pulled over for that in almost 6 months (as opposed to 3 in 3 months). They apparently just decided to tack it on yesterday, to further their prickness.

simone54's avatar

What the fuck? You think your car is nice so you don’t have to follow the rules that everyone else has to follow?

Your little pass and turn from the right lane is an asshole driving move. Your wheels didn’t screech by accident, like the bullshit your trying to say. What YOU did is not justified in anyway. You just got pissed off because someone was driving a little slow. Then you wanted to show that have balls and did that shit.

From all that, I don’t believe for a second that you didn’t give the cop attitude. You seem to me to be a little spoiled asshole kid. I’d think getting arrested for being jerkoff would maybe teach you a lesson but, that didn’t happen. I hope your parents take their car away from you.

All the worst.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I pay for that car myself, as well as my schooling. My parents haven’t given me a thing, and trust me they want too. But being one of 10 kids to my divorced and remarried parents, who make a collective 120K a year, doesn’t really allow them to spoil me. And lots of people in ohio don’t use front plates, I could go sit on a major road and probably 1/4 cars wouldn’t have one. And how COULD I give the cop attitude? I was in hand cuffs after 4 words…. and I quote them “no, I do not” (my response when asked if i want to go to jail). I didn’t speak to them again until they let me out of the truck at the station. And if I wanted to show “i have balls” I would’ve done a 30 second burn out, which I could have easily done. I’m the guy who has turned down MANY punk kids who want to race me, because it’s not worth it. I race my car legally at tracks with my brother, and have put a TON of man hours and money into making it nice, and fast. Why would I want to ruin that for the sake of trying to look like a bad-ass because of some lady driving slow?

What I did is the same thing probably 50% of drivers would do when stuck behind someone slow. Speed up quickly, and pass. But because my tires screeched for all of 1/2 a second, I was arrested for it.

I have ABSOLUTELY NO record, short of warnings for no front license plate. I was charged with a minor misdemeanor. Some other minor misdemeanors include running a stop sign, going up to 5 mph over the speed limit, and changing lanes without using your signal. Whens the last time you saw someone arrested for those offenses?

RandomMrdan's avatar

as I mentioned earlier, I know Westy…he is not one to mouth off…and actually he would probably be one to shit his pants if a cop was yelling at him, he’s quite the wuss. I think he cried or something like that the day he got his license and was pulled over (I think the cop jokingly suggested to take away his license he got that same day).

I do however agree there is nothing to justify the pass while in the turn or near the end of the turn…I consider myself to be a very modest driver and would probably just pass him later rather sooner, further down the road…..

If the cop was justified in making an arrest and not being given the miranda rights…I’m told by a retired cop that you should be read the miranda rights if you’re taken from the scene of the incident…is that the same in every state, or has that been changed/updated? I’m not entirely sure, and my friend who is retired my have previous knowledge that may have been changed.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

lol, thanks dan for the wuss compliment…. I didn’t cry that time btw… ALMOST, but I managed.

simone54's avatar

I’ve never seen ANYONE EVER do what you say you did and pass someone and turn in front of them at traffic light. 50% would do that? No. People from Ohio must be real assholes.

But I’m curious how a young kid can afford STR-4 without help from parents. I wish I could do that. Please inform me.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Wait, what do you think I did here? We were both in the turning lane, turning to a street with two lanes that were going in our direction. The person I passed pulled into the close one, I speedily pulled into the second, far, lane. I didn’t pull back into the close lane until i was very far past the person (seeing them in my rear view mirror). It seems like you think I jumped right out in front of them or something?

I afford the car because I’m buying it from my older brother, and he’s being generous about me making the payments. My brother bought the car brand new 4 years ago, and the loan is still in his name. Until the bank will approve me for the loan, I make the payments on it, and I gave him a hefty downpayment. I work very hard to make the $300 a month I need for the payments, let alone insurance. Which is all the more reason why it wouldn’t be worth it for me to blow it on looking like a badass for some stupid lady who wanted to drive 15 mph below the speed limit.

(And it’s an sRt-4…. not an STR-4), grand total price in the ball park of 15,000

simone54's avatar

That was just typo. I meant SRT.

Cops are assholes.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

agreed whole heartedly…. It honestly fills me with shame that someone who’s supposed to be protecting us is out there doing this. It doesn’t even make sense economically. The max fine I can get is 100 dollars, and the impound fee was 110. His and his partners pay ALONE for the 3 or so hours they were busy with me exceeds that. let alone gas money for their giant truck (i was in a paddy wagon/armored truck), the people that processed me, the computers and such. The money it will cost for a judge to even just hear me plead guilty or not guilty.

This guy probably cost the state a minimum of 2 or 3 grand, to charge me 210 bucks and just make me lose more faith in police.

jca's avatar

i think you should not pass anyone at the light, during the turn, or right after the turn. that’s why there are sometimes solid white lines approaching a light.

again, tho, even if everyone you know agreed with you, it wouldn’t matter, it matters only what the judge thinks.

as far as your plate goes, if it’s a law in your state, you need to put it on, despite cost or damage to your car. i don’t know if it’s a law in your state.

Judi's avatar

Sorry for your hassle. They think you’re some punk kid and they’re out to get you. Unless you can afford an attorney to fight it and you want to fight it on principal, you will probably loose. All the stuff they taught you in school about living in a fair country was idealistic. Some people become cops because they feel so powerless in their own lives they choose a job that gives them power over others. I think that you may have met up with one of those.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I thought I would update everyone. I talked with a lawyer today and hired him. He’s almost positive that the charges against me will be dropped. He said it’s highly unusual to be arrested for a minor misdemeanor, especially with no record. He doesn’t expect that I’ll be able to pursue the cop in some legal manner, past filing a complaint with the police internal affairs division (which I plan on doing). Simply put, he said my grievances (costs) were to low and that I would be hard pressed to find a lawyer who would actually take the case.

So that’s that. Maybe I should start some kind of movement or website where people can tell their stories of the Columbus Police Dept. overstepping it’s bounds in their lives….

jca's avatar

westy: can you please update when all is over? it’s interesting to see what happens. good luck!

Eureka's avatar

Let us know what hapens!

lacrosseplr's avatar

Yes, he was correct. I probably would have just given you a ticket, but an arrest is justified. Just think, technically we can arrest you for failure to wear a seat belt, but that dosn’t happen. It is really up to the Officer how far to take it.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

agreed. He was ALLOWED to arrest me. They can arrest for any minor misdemeanor as ridiculous as that sounds. I mean had I mouthed off to the guy, flipped him the bird, or like done something else ridiculous, then I could understand the arrest. But I barely even had 4 words out of my mouth before I was in cuffs, and they weren’t confrontational.

I guess what I’m getting at, is that because this cop decided to be a dick, I’m out 610 dollars in impound and lawyer fees, and a LOT of respect for the Columbus PD. He’s lucky that I’m a bigger man than he is, and I won’t hold this against his co-workers when they show up on my operating table in the ER in a few years.

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shilolo's avatar

As an actual doctor, I will say that, for what its worth, I have seen a lot more accidents from reckless drivers, such as yourself, than from slow drivers. Not that slow drivers aren’t irritating, but, there’s a reason why insurance premiums are higher for young (male) drivers of sports/muscle cars. So, the cop was probably right to cite you. You’ve learned your lesson the hard way. Good luck with your future career in surgical/ER medicine.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

The reckless drivers you see on the table, are the ones who are doing 120 on the free way, or trying to “drift” in and out of traffic. This IS NOT me. My tires squealed (accidentally) and I accelerated quickly. Accelerating quickly does not cause accidents, unless you accelerate quickly into something, which I did not. I didn’t speed, I didn’t cut anyone off, I didn’t almost hit someone, I didn’t anything. The ONLY reason I qualify for reckless op is because my tires squealed. THAT’S IT.

I couldn’t agree with you more that reckless drivers cause a lot of accidents, that’s why I don’t drive my car recklessly on the street. I take it to the track with my brother, and race it there where no one is going to get hurt except maybe myself.

I can’t argue that the cop didn’t have the right to cite me for it (as much as I think it’s total BS). But that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking if it’s right that I was ARRESTED for this.

The only lessons I’ve learned are that I shouldn’t waste my time with the all weather tires I bought for when I’m not at the track, as they can’t handle my car, and to be wary of CPD as they can easily be in a bad mood.

(But I do appreciate your input, and thank you for your good wishes. If I might ask, what city do you practice in?)

jrpowell's avatar

I spent the night in jail for skateboarding in the parking lot of a bank. It was 2AM, no cars. And I didn’t see any signs that prohibited skateboarding. It could have been worse.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Oh man. Your case is way worse than mine john. Don’t tick off the towns in that town I guess.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Quick update. The Prosecutor has offered a plea bargain that would drop the two charges (reckless op and failure to display front plate) and give me a lesser charge that is still worth 2 points on my license and a fine (as opposed to the 4 from reckless op and the larger fines of both violations). Also I received a copy of the police report written by the arresting officer, and it contained a lot of interesting stuff.

For starters the officer claimed that I spun the tires thru the entire turn. So badly that it created smoke. Given that my car is front wheel drive, I’m not sure how this isn’t a giant red flag to begin with. My car physically CAN NOT do a burn out while turning, it’s simply not possible. Furthermore, as any experienced car guy will tell you, if you make smoke with your tires you will leave some impressive tire marks on the road. There were NO tire marks at the intersection. Basically, the way the officer described it, I should just accept the charges and go sign up for NASCAR, using this police report on my resume. He also claimed that I “spontaneously” said that I spun the tires out of anger that the driver in front of me was being stupid. Completely false. In fact I remember saying that I sped up to pass the person, and the tires spun off the line accidentally.

It just doesn’t add up. I mean if I was gonna drive like an ass thru the intersection, why stop there? I had a wide open road for a good half a mile or more. I could’ve been doing 100 in about 7 seconds, why the heck would I just speed thru a turn and then suddenly decide that 40 mph was good enough for my rage. Let alone the fact the way he’s accusing me of driving, I’d have been going a good 50 or more as I left the turn.

We have until the 19th to decide whether to take it to court or accept the plea bargain, I haven’t talked to my lawyer yet, but we’ll see what he says. What I’ve heard from a lot of people is that despite the simple fact that what the officer has in the report is pretty much impossible, it won’t matter and it will end up being the officers word vs mine, and virtually all other evidence ignored (unless it’s video). But we’ll see what the lawyer says. What do you guys think?

jca's avatar

i think take the plea – the officer will testify and he has his many years of experience (i know a cop and he told me this is how they start) he goes to court in his uniform, and testifies that he has worked for this many years, had all these trainings, etc., and i think in your case, just take the plea and get it done. you save court time, lawyer time (don’t forget you’re paying him by the hour) and you’re getting it over and moving on with your life. even though you and your people say what he’s saying is pretty much impossible, i don’t think the judge will look kindly upon the whole thing. judges, i think, are not too tolerant of kids with sports cars (no offense to you personally). 2 points is nothing. go for it, is my opinion.

richardhenry's avatar

That is sound advice. Save the trouble.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Yah, I’m thinking I’m gonna be stuck taking the plea. But I’ll see what the lawyer says. He knows all the judges and such, so he’ll probably be able to tell me if we can or can’t beat it. It’s infuriating because this is the most wronged I think I’ve ever been in my life (though I guess I should be thankful that this is as bad as I’ve got it). And I may not be able to beat it, even though I didn’t do what I’m being accused of. It’s outrageous and has made me lose the large majority of my respect for the police around here. Maybe I’ll find my way into politics or something and try and fight this type of abuse of power.

Further compliments are both appreciated and hopefully more will come. Thanks guys.

jca's avatar

the lawyer might tell you to fight it, because the more you fight it, the more money he gets. remember you’re the boss (he works for you) so you can take the plea if you want to end it now. also, the lawyer might be friends with the judge, but the cop is also probably friends with the judge. the judge might feel like the plea is a good compromise, but if you want to fight it, he might not want to embarass his friend the cop. (remember the cops all chat and see the judges all the time). i’d be interested to see what your lawyer bill is when it’s all over even if you stop now and take the plea. good luck either way and keep us posted.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Well the plus side in the lawyer is he is doing the whole thing for a solid fee which I’ve already paid. So regardless of whether I take the plea or try to fight it, I don’t have to pay anymore than I’ve already put up.

I’m going to meet with the lawyer later this week. Over the phone he sounded pretty 50/50. So I figure I’ll talk with him in person and see what he says.

jca's avatar

that’s good that the fee is set at one amount.

if it were me, i’d still take the plea and get it over with, pay the fine, put it behind you, life goes on.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Final Update: So I had to go in like 5 times all together. Each time we’d go in and the prosecutor would make some god awful plea bargain offer, and we’d turn it down. Then the next time they’d make an even worse offer, and we’d turn it down again. Finally, after missing a lot of class and work over this, we got a FOR SURE day that there was gonna be a trial or what have you.

Well the day comes and I go in and see my lawyer talking with the two officers that arrested me. I overhear a bit of it, and the officer that was the huge jerk in the ordeal seemed hesitant to accept any busted down offers or even agree that I was cooperating. The second officer (who had mostly remained silent during the arrest) was speaking up on my behalf, saying I was a good guy and that I cooperated fully, and suggested to the prosecutor that they drop the wreckless driving charge and leave only the “failure to display front license plate” charge. From the look on the jerk cops face, you could tell he wasn’t at all happy, but he finally submitted and we ended up accepting the new plea bargain (I didn’t actually have the front plate on, so hard to argue that anyways).

I ended up running into the nice cop in the elevator on my way out, and he actually made small talk and was very cool. Wished him happy holidays and that’s that. In the end my fine came to be ~$135 (court costs were counted because I was “convicted” of A charge, even though it was just the license plate one).

Thanks for everyones advice early on in this long drawn out experience. I appreciate it!

krose1223's avatar

wow this was so entertaining to read
I just wanted to say I drive a freaking cobalt and my tires will occasionally squeal without me trying…

Plus I know when I drove a standard 6-speed car it was verrrry easy to peel out when going into first and 2nd. So, I got your back on this one westy.

Cops are dicks and sadly I work with them every day. Most of them suffer from little man syndrome and feel the need to prove themselves.

Sorry to say it but maybe you should get a front plate… you’d save money in the long run by preventing multiple tickets. But hey, your money, do what you want.

aidje's avatar

Lurve for letting us know what happened.

jca's avatar

yeah thanks for the update. it was nice that you remembered!

semblance's avatar

I am an attorney. Do not take this as creating an attorney-client relationship. You may, however, find it helpful.

Whether I think the office was “justified” or not does not matter. Reckless driving is generally a matter of opinion and interpretation. The officer has stated his opinion and apparently you have been charged with an actual traffc crime, not just an infraction. Otherwise, you would not have been taken to the station, etc.

The issue is, “How do you get out of this with minimum damage?” You need to hire an attorney. She or he may be able to negotiate a plea to a mere traffic infraction and avoid a criminal trial. If not, then your option is to go to trial. If so, you are probably better off with a jury trial rather than a judge trial. Judges almost always convict on a case if they get to decide the facts. My guess is that you would have a pretty good chane of beating a reckless driving charge before a jury.

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