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Excuses, excuses, excuses

December 16, 2012
Messenger News

"Methinks the letter writer doth protest too much." -Barbara Wallace Hughes, with apologies to William Shakespeare

I recently received an email from a disgruntled out-of-stater who has vowed to never again shop in Fort Dodge because he received a speeding ticket.

The man was upset, according to him, for a number of reasons, most of which I found, well, interesting, to say the least.

For example, while he admitted that people shouldn't speed, he added that "we all do."

In that case, I would suggest that we all deserve speeding tickets and should just pay up on those occasions when we are caught doing what we know we should not. I would also suggest his excuse that everyone does it didn't work for me as a 6-year-old when I tried it out on my mother, and it is even more lame coming from someone old enough to be a licensed driver.

The unhappy man also suggested it could be both illegal and un-Constitutional for him to receive a ticket since the citation was the result of a computer attached to the Fort Dodge Police Department's mobile speed vehicle. He said "we don't really know who was driving our van at that time and neither does the FDPD." While the FDPD might be in the dark, I strongly suspect he knows quite well who was driving - especially since there were no reports of stolen, out-of-state vehicles filed locally that day.

He also said you shouldn't need a sign to remind people not to speed, but that a sign would help. I guess he is excluding the signs posted at the city entries telling drivers the speed limit is photo-enforced, the signs that - at least then - were still placed both before and after the parked mobile speed vehicle letting drivers know the speed limit is photo-enforced and the dozens and dozens of signs around the community letting drivers know exactly how fast they are allowed to drive.

He further surmises "the clear intent of the camera is money, not safety," and that "it's perfect for nailing out-of-town guests." I would argue that out-of-town visitors should be more vigilant. As they are not accustomed to driving in this community, I would think they would do what I do when driving in unfamiliar territory: pay attention to traffic signs in an attempt not to cause or be caught up in any accidents or incidents.

Furthermore, if the FDPD's main goal is simply to collect money, I think it's pretty silly of them to post the location of the mobile speed vehicle on their website daily. In fact, there's a link on The Messenger's website that lets our readers know the location. If the "clear intent is money," surely keeping the location a secret would help with fundraising.

Here's the thing: You were speeding, and you got a ticket. I am pretty sure that you wouldn't have been happy had a Fort Dodge Police officer with a radar gun caught you committing the same offense. A citation written by an officer is a personal invitation to check out the local court system. An officer-written citation likely would have cost you more because you would have been subject to paying court costs and the surcharge. In addition, it could have affected your driver's license since it would have been considered a criminal offense, rather than a civil offense.

By the way, you are still more than welcome to shop in our community. We have great merchants and interesting merchandise. But, as a guest, we will expect you to obey the rules, just like the people who live here.

Barbara Wallace Hughes is managing editor of The Messenger.



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