I have often heard it said that, "If you listen to the radio long enough, you will hear everything." I think that in 30+ years as a Ham, that finally came true the other night.
I was driving home from work and had the Icom in scan mode. It settled on one of the repeaters in New Jersey that is linked for statewide coverage. I heard a Ham relating the following story.
He was driving through a certain town and got stopped by a police officer for going over the speed limit. He was also on the radio at the time. In New Jersey, when you get a speeding ticket a certain "point value" goes on your driving record, depending on how far above the speed limit you were traveling. If you accumulate more than 12 points in three years, your license to drive is subject to revocation. The Ham must have offered some kind of sob story and the officer must have felt sorry for this guy, or something, because he offered him a choice. He had to issue a summons; but was willing to avoid giving the guy the points for speeding if he would take a ticket for using an electronic device while driving. This is New Jersey's cell phone law. If you use a cell phone (other than a non-hands on system) while driving, you get a fine. The Ham agreed to the cell phone ticket instead of the points.
What the officer didn't know, it seems, is that there is a specific exemption for Amateur Radio operators built into that law. As far as the law is written, Amateur Radio is NOT cell phone communications and is therefore permissible while driving.
So our friendly "lead foot" Ham was explaining to his friend on the air how he is going to court to challenge and possibly have the driving offense expunged on the technicality.
I was perturbed. First off, the police officer did this guy a favor. Even though Joe Ham broke the law by speeding, the police officer gave him a break by charging him with a lesser offense with a smaller fine and no points against his driving record. Joe Ham freely admitted his guilt and freely admitted that he was going to try and get out of this on the technicality that the police officer was probably unaware of. How about taking responsibility for your actions and taking your medicine like a man? As it is, he should be eternally grateful to the police officer for not issuing him the speeding points.
Secondly, if this guy's argument works; and he does beat the ticket .... how is that police officer going to treat other Hams in the future? He will have gotten burned by one of us once. Think that's not going to reside in the old memory banks for a long time? Think this police officer is going to be sympathetic to some other Ham in the future? I doubt it.
This kind of thing makes us all look bad. Fortunately, the friend that "lead foot" was talking to on the repeater advised him against his planned course of action. The friend was trying to be the voice of reason and common sense; but somehow I don't think his advice will be heeded. It seems that anything goes these days.
I will keep an ear open to this repeater system over the next few weeks. I will be very interested to see how this turns out.
72 de Larry W2LJ