A fellow officer spotted a car driving at night with slowly creeping down the street with its high beams on. The car was a few inches from the curb and the officer expected it to run up onto the sidewalk at any moment. He ran the license plate and found it did not belong on the car he was following. Anticipating a drunk driver with a possible stolen license plate he called for backup and pulled the driver over in grocery store parking lot.
I arrived a minute later and saw a man in his 50's wearing thick glasses standing next to the driver's door of his car. I asked him what was going on and he told me he was on the way to the bar to meet some friends. He did not have a driver's license so he never bothered registering his car. Instead, he 'borrowed' his girlfriend's license plate and affixed it to his unregistered car. I asked him if he realized what he did was illegal and he was immediately offended at the suggestion:
"All I did was borrow my girlfriend's license plate. What's the big deal?"
"Well, each car is assigned its own plate and these cannot just be placed on any car you want."
"But I needed to use her plate 'cause my car doesn't have one."
"Because I don't have a driver's license or insurance so there's no reason for me to get a plate."
"There's also no reason you should be driving."
"But I only live a few blocks away and I told my friends I'd meet them at the bar."
"How were you going to get home after you had a few drinks?"
"Uh......in my car."
"Why don't you get a driver's license so you can drive legally?"
"Because I'm legally blind. The MVD won't issue me a license. That's why I was driving slowly next to the curb. To make sure I didn't run into anything."
"Do you realize your headlights were on high-beam?"
"That's because I can't see, I told you!!:
"Instead of borrowing your girlfriend's license plate, why didn't you just drive her car?"
"Because she knows I can't see and her car is a lot nicer than mine and she needs it for work."
"So she thought there was a good chance you'd crash her car and it would be better if you collided into somebody in your less expensive car?"
"I guess so. I should have just taken a ride from my friends when they offered it."
I told him I found it hard to believe a grown man didn't understand driving a car without registration, insurance, or a driver's license, with a fictitious plate, at night while legally blind was illegal and dangerous. His reply:
"C'mon man, can't you just give me a warning and follow me home to make sure I get there safely?"
"Negative. . . . . . . . . . . You're being issued citations for no current registration, no insurance, no valid driver license, and intentionally using a fictitious license plate."
It's hard to believe 6 weeks have come and gone since I took on my first trainee. He now moves on to a different Field Training Officer for another six weeks. If all goes well, he'll return to me for his final 2 weeks. I've tried to prepare him the best I could but he's very young and still has an issued with command presence. It's impossible to teach someone confidence, assertiveness, poise or self-assurance. I am hoping these things will come to him as he progresses through the next phase of his training.