Policeless State Versus Stateless Police

| Working | December 16, 2013

(I am borrowing my mother’s boyfriend’s SUV. He is from New York and still has a New York license plate on the rear of the SUV. He has removed the front one, which is required by New York state law to be on there. I am driving in North Carolina, which does not have front license plate laws. I have just been pulled over.)

Officer: “Can I see your license and registration, please?”

(I hand them over.)

Officer: “Okay. Who is the owner of this vehicle?”

Me: “My mother’s boyfriend, [Name].”

Officer: “Do you know why I stopped you?”

Me: “I haven’t the slightest.”

Officer: “When I passed you, I noticed that this vehicle is from New York. You do not have a front license plate.”

Me: *confused* “Okay?”

Officer: “You do know that is required by New York state, correct?”

Me: “Yeah, I know. But we are in North Carolina.”

(The officer looks dumbfounded. There is an awkward moment of silence.)

Officer: “I’m going to run these. I’ll be right back.”

(The officer leaves and returns a few minutes later. He hands me a piece of paper.)

Officer: “I’m giving you a ticket for not having a front license plate on this vehicle. I have circled your fine for you at the top.”

(I read over the ticket. It clearly says that I have willfully and unlawfully driven a New York registered vehicle without a front license plate.)

Me: “Sir, I don’t think you understand. You do not have the authority to enforce New York state law.”

Officer: “But I am from New York, and I know that it is illegal.”

Me: “But you are a North Carolina police officer, correct?”

Officer: “Yeah. What of it? Your ticket clearly states what you are accused of.”

Me: “I don’t think yo—”

Officer: “Sir, if you want to dispute the ticket, you can take it to the [County] courthouse.”

Me: “So you ACTUALLY think you can cite me for this?”

Officer: *blank stare*

Me: “Call your sergeant down for me.”

Officer: “He’s not going to drop this.”

Me: “CALL. HIM.”

(A few minutes later, another squad car pulls up. As the sergeant gets out, the officer bombards him with the situation. He finally hands the sergeant the ticket he wrote me.)

Sergeant: *pointing to me* “So you wrote this for him?”

Officer: “Correct, sir.”

(The sergeant walks up to me. He says hi, and looks over the SUV.)

Sergeant: “I’m guessing I’m here because the greenhorn over there somehow made it through the academy.”

Me: “So, you see the problem with this, too?”

Sergeant: “I’ve heard of the problems this particular officer has been making. We’ve had a few complaints, too.”

Me: “Not surprising. But uh, can I leave? Or…”

Sergeant: “How about we have fun with this? Take your ticket over to Officer [Name], and tear it up in his face. Try to do it right in front of the squad car.”

Me: “I like you. A lot.”

(I did it too, and right in his face! The officer exploded when I did it, screaming and cussing at me like I was a loose convict. The sergeant let me leave. As I was getting back in the SUV I heard the sergeant yelling at the officer about how he can’t enforce other states’ laws. Judging by the officer’s look, he still didn’t understand.)

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