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What? No Traffic Stop?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

What? No Traffic Stop?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
September 18, 2007

As I sat in front of the Woodstock Starbuck’s this morning, I watched an elderly person drive around the Square – in the wrong direction! The driver headed uphill from the Opera House and made a right turn to pass in front of Woodstock Square Mall. The Square was moderately busy this morning, because the Farmer’s Market was operating.

As luck would have it, a Woodstock Police car was coming around the Square – in the right direction of travel. They met at Jackson Street, and the officer flagged down the driver. They stopped, driver’s door to driver’s door.

Wouldn’t this have been a perfect occasion to check a driver’s license? Insurance card? Vehicle registration? Driver’s ability to perceive direction? Did any of that happen?

After a short time and without leaving his patrol car, the officer let the driver proceed. I’m sure he must have told him to turn left immediately and drive off the Square on Jackson Street, because that’s what the driver did.

Even if the officer didn’t write him a ticket, he should have issued a written Warning. Driving the wrong way on the Square is a fairly significant traffic violation.

Why didn’t the driver pay attention to the No Left Turn sign, if he had come onto the Square from Dean Street? Why didn’t the driver notice that all the parked cars were facing against his direction of travel and that he couldn’t have parked, had he wanted to? Was the driver “confused”?

These are all good reasons to conduct a traffic stop. Getting the driver out of his car is a good way to evaluate his ability to operate a motor vehicle. Did the driver need to be re-examined at the DMV for his ability to operate a motor vehicle?

Should he have gotten a ticket or just a written Warning? If either event, the officer should have gotten out of his vehicle and inspected the driver’s paperwork and then issued a Warning.

Why does this bug me? Because in January I was stopped right in front of my driveway and given a $75 ticket for a headlight that had been out for 20 minutes!

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