Questionable traffic stop on Highway 16

The in basket: Frank Gentile wrote in December with the following tale:
“My daughter delivers for  one of our daily local newspapers. So on three separate occasions she has  been driving on Highway 16 at 3 a.m. from Bremerton to Port Orchard  between Tremont and Sedgwick where the speed limit is 60 mph.
On one occasion, she was pulled  over by the State Patrol and on two other occasions followed by the Bremerton PD.
“The officer’s reason for the stop was ‘because she was going the speed limit at 3 a.m. and this seems suspicious to him and she may have something to hide.’ He wrote no citation.
“This is plan insanity,” Frank said.



The in basket: Frank Gentile wrote in December with the following tale:
“My daughter delivers for  one of our daily local newspapers. So on three separate occasions she has  been driving on Highway 16 at 3 a.m. from Bremerton to Port Orchard  between Tremont and Sedgwick where the speed limit is 60 mph.
”She is  cautious and sets her cruise control on 60. On one occasion, she was pulled  over by the State Patrol and on two other occasions followed by the Bremerton PD. Other cars were passing her and she was in the right hand lane.  
”The officer’s reason for the stop was ‘because she was going the speed  limit at 3 a.m. and this seems suspicious to him and she may have something to hide.’ He wrote no citation.
“So here is my dilemma,” Frank said. “Where does common sense stop and harassment start?  Going the speed limit is the right  thing to do no matter what time of day it is and she wasn’t impeding the flow of traffic in any way. This is plan insanity.”
The out basket: The only part of the story that surprises me is that an officer would offer an explanation for stopping a driver that would be sure to be dinner table conversation in the driver’s family if it didn’t get wider publicity, such as this one.
The police can cite many reasons for a stop that sound more logical. Traveling over the edge line at the side of the highway is the usual one.
In the early days of the Road Warrior column in the late 90s, a couple of the fellows who ran the printing press here at the newspaper complained to me that they had been stopped in the wee hours between Bremerton and Gorst as they headed home from work, for supposedly crossing the edge line. They didn’t think they had, and weren’t cited.
The hard truth is that a high proportion of those driving after midnight have been drinking and worse, and the police respond accordingly.
I can’t count the times while I was court reporter that I saw the following scenario played out in felony crime filings. An officer would see an innocuous traffic violation, stop the car, find the driver to have a suspended license, which permits a search, which turned up drugs, illegal guns or some other forbidden item.
Unlicensed drivers and drug users often drive old decrepit cars, and I think that also lowers the threshold for how serious a traffic offense will prompt a pull-over.
State patrol officers readily say they regard improper lane travel as an indicator of an impaired driver.
I’m sure the threshold for stopping a car is even lower during a DUI emphasis patrol, which I think Frank’s daughter must have encountered if Bremerton officers were working that far outside the city.
So why her? She drives a 2004 Kia, her father said, so that probably played no part. Perhaps she or her car looks like another person or vehicle that is known for criminal behavior.
Though Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t involved, I asked Deputy Scott Wilson for comment. He said, “I would recommend if this type of traffic stop occurs again, where the driver feels that no type of driving-related offense was committed, that the driver contact the on-duty supervisor for the agency that conducted the traffic stop as soon as possible following the event, and file a
complaint or at least inquire as to the reasons for the traffic stop.”

3 thoughts on “Questionable traffic stop on Highway 16

  1. Being pulled over for driving the speed limit doesn’t seem right or logical…at any time of the day or night.
    I thought a DUI would normally weave over the lines or drive very slowly … or drive in a reckless manner.
    Are officers being trained to pull over people because they are driving the speed limit at 3 a.m.?
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. If it were me, alone, driving at 3 a.m. in an isolated area, driving
    legally, I might not stop.
    In this day and age…people have been known to fake officers in order
    to commit crimes. At night there is no way to tell if it is a patrol
    car…all we see are flashing lights…bright and blinding.
    If the driver is not doing anything illegal, I hope officers will cease stopping them. It could be frightening to a person…and for no good reason…
    Just as an impaired driver can’t walk a straight.line..I doubt they can drive within the borders of two lines either….O’Hara

  3. I have been stopped because “my license plate illumination light was too dim.” The officer was in a clearly marked WSP vehicle, and I put my hazards on and then stopped in a well-lit and well-traveled area. It was at 12:30 AM on a Sunday night/Monday morning, so I knew exactly why I was being stopped – to see if I was impaired in any way. I joked with the Trooper, cooperated with his requests, and was not ticketed. The whole process was relatively painless and took less than ten minutes.

    If you have ever been affected by a drunk driver, you would probably not have any problem with emphasis patrols. Perhaps an inconvenience, they should not be a concern to those who have no reason to fear. I personally make a conscious choice not to drive if I have had ANYTHING to drink.

    While the numbers do not support the notion that it is commonplace for an individual to impersonate an officer, I certainly understand why one might not want to stop in a dark, deserted place for an unmarked or ‘soft’ patrol car. So do officers of law enforcement. I would suggest turning on your hazards, slowing down, and continuing to a well-lit, well-traveled or populated area. You may even consider calling 9-1-1 after doing the above so the dispatcher may relay to the officer your intentions.

    You may be surprised what a seasoned drinker is capable of while being unbelievably impaired.

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