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Officer decides whether you get a ticket

Maybe you can shed some light on my frustration. My son was cited for a "California stop" (not making a complete stop) late at night, middle of the week, on the Rogue River bridge during its construction. While the stop sign was located in its normal spot, the line was faded and sand and gravel were on the road.

It was his first offense, he was cited, and I thought the judge would drop it, or it could have been dropped with classes. Nope, he was given the standard reduction, and the citation went to his record. The next two times he was stopped were his fault, doing 45 mph coming out of Ashland, again at night, where the speed does increase to 45 from the 25 mph zone. The other was the speed zone on Redwood Highway by Rogue Community College.

This made it impossible for me to keep him on my insurance policy. My frustration is that my two daughters have been pulled over several times each in the last four years and always let go with a warning. I understand that it's up to the officer in all cases if a citation should be issued, but I don't think my son did anything different or more offensive than did my daughters. This chain of events led to my son's license being suspended and then revoked when he was caught driving while suspended. He's a safe driver, but young and likes to have fun; I don't think he deserves what transcended.

— Ed T.

Well, Ed, you caught my attention with your e-mail header of "Man vs. Woman," and this question sounds like a politically correct land-mine field, but I'll give it a go anyway. Let me address some of your issues.

First, it sounds like your son was guilty of the offenses, maybe with an extenuating circumstance on the stop sign. However, as you say, it's the officer's judgment about whether to cite on any given traffic stop. I'm guessing that he was not cited by a Sheriff's Office deputy, as we write our citations into Justice Court and traffic school is an option in that court, especially for first-time offenders.

Second, you don't mention what offense(s) your daughters were pulled over for, so it's hard to judge the relative severity of their violations. To me, and in talking to most of my co-workers, it doesn't matter whether you're male or female, young or old; we cite or warn people based on the nature of the stop and on the attitude of the driver.

For instance, a suspended driver or uninsured driver is always going to get a ticket, at least from me, but someone with a burned-out brake light more often receives just a warning. As far as attitude, someone who does something bone-headed and then admits to it and promises to be more careful in the future is a lot more likely to get a warning than someone who denies what I know I saw, or who wants to debate the issue.

So I don't really think it's a man vs. woman issue; the issuance of a citation is based on the merits of each individual traffic stop.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.