He didn’t realize that a speeding ticket would cause him to miss half of his English final. It wasn’t like he was pulled over in the morning and was late to class, it was that he was leaving early–for a court date.
Three weeks earlier, on the last day before Thanksgiving break last year, junior Michael Mardikes looked at the clock on his dash he realized that to make it to school before the 7:40 a.m. bell rang it would take stepping on the gas. On any other day, going 12 over on Delmar would have not been a problem. Mardikes sped down Delmar at 37 mph, with making it to first hour on time still an obtainable goal.
“I got pulled over in the East parking lot. Everyone stopped and honked too, really embarrassing,” Mardikes said. “And to make it even better, I was late to class.”
High school students are new drivers, and still learning the rules of the road. Speeding tickets are one of the main effects of young people behind the wheel. School is one of the more common excuses for speeding, as well as other time-pressuring events.
Mardikes, a second-year legal driver, learned his lesson the hard way; pulled over, embarrassed and a drained wallet. Senior Stephanie Wilcox experienced tears in her meeting with the police, and drove away with without a dime out of her pocket. Junior Andrew Stottle was not as fortunate, but the reduction in his bank account did not result in a reduction on his speedometer.
For Mardikes, the policemen were stationed along an intersecting Delmar street. It wasn’t until he was safely parked before he noticed that the police had followed him into the sophomore lot and had parked alongside him. Although he was late to class, his teacher agreed that a $120 ticket was enough of a punishment, and he was not counted tardy.
Mardikes paid double the fine to erase it from his record, with an additional $50 to attend the mandatory teen safety education class in Kansas City, MO. The course was run by a college student, who educated attendees on how their decisions could lead to fatal results. Mardikes believed that it was primarily to make the patron regret their violation, and to make them learn their lesson.
“I had a lame story–[my ticket] was just for speeding, when other people shared theirs it was for drag racing or another guy was there because he was riding in a golf cart sitting in the bed of a pickup truck, while it was in drive,” Mardikes said.
Around the same time last year, Wilcox learned her lesson–in a bit of a different way. Wilcox doesn’t enjoy driving at night, so at 11:30 p.m., getting home quickly was something to shoot for. She was unaware that she was going 11 over the speed limit signs lining Rowe Avenue.
It wasn’t until she was in her own driveway that she noticed the police were following her. He told her that she had been speeding, then asked where she was headed. Wilcox replied in a shaky voice that she was currently in her own driveway and had been coming home from a friend’s house. Wilcox knew she was nervous, but she also detected uneasiness in the officer’s voice–making her believe that he was unsure of himself, giving her a slight hope of getting off the hook.
“I think I also might have started crying. There may have been tears,” Wilcox said. “That was probably why he felt bad for me and let me off with a warning.”
A speeding ticket wasn’t the only thing she got off the hook for that night–her parents never found out she was pulled over in the first place. Although they were home, the Wilcox’s did not notice the lights in their driveway.
According to East SRO Eric Mieske, officers will begin pulling drivers over at speeds anywhere from five to 10 mph, but this mainly depends on the area and the officer.
“It is going to depend on the city, along with the officer’s job function,” Mieske said. “A traffic officer is more likely to pull over for a lower speed than a regular patrol officer.”
Stottle was pulled over this past summer on Ward Parkway. After being stopped by an officer on a bike, he was informed that he had been going 12 over the limit. Not as fortunate as Wilcox, Stottle was issued a $170 ticket, thereafter paying double to eliminate it from his record–with his own money. About a year after Mardikes, Stottle was also required to attend a similar driver safety class, although his was located a bit further north.
“It was sketch, on 34th and Troost,” Stottle said. “The other kids were telling stories how they had been to jail.”
For Mardikes, the embarrassment, $290 and the mandatory safety class was an experience he would be happy to never come across again. He watches his gauge on the dash, and keeps the number close to the limit. Wilcox, although getting out of what Mardikes went through, still realizes she was lucky that the power of tears pulled through for her, and would not want to push it any further. For Stottle however, speeding still outweighs the $390 ticket and attending the driving class.