I Fought the Law... and Won

May 10th, 2012

Back in March I blogged about getting nailed for doing just over 35 mph on a 4-lane major street in Kailua that is supposed to have a 25 mph speed limit... which bugged me because the police set up their radar gun in an area where you first go up an incline, then go downhill on a straight stretch where there are no pedestrian crossings or intersections. As I wrote in that post, I returned to the scene and took video of the street and the two cops who were playing tag team, pulling over car and after car -- while letting some speeders go scot-free if they slammed on their breaks upon seeing the radar gun.

Anyhow, I checked off the "Not Guilty" box on my ticket and wrote a detailed three page account of what happened, which I mailed in. Lo and behold, last week I got my ruling: Case dismissed in my favor. I suspect the judge has been hearing an earful about these police speed traps that are set up during the day with the sole purpose of writing hundreds of tickets, while the real problem of drunk driving and speeding on highways at night doesn't seem to get that same kind of attention. And sure enough, there was another fatal accident that occurred late at night related to speeding and drinking right after I posted my mini-rant. Coincidentally (or not) after I wrote that blog, an HPD spokesman sent a letter to the Star-Advertiser in which he stated that they actually do set up similar speed traps at night to catch drunks and speeders.

Lately, I've also been reading more letters from people who are upset about cops writing tickets for jaywalking Downtown, instead of going after drug dealers and real criminals. I understand why the police want to discourage jaywalking -- and speeding -- but if the person wasn't endangering himself of anyone else, why can't the cops give them a warning instead? It would serve the same purpose, and not take up so much of the court's time dealing with extra paperwork and nuisance fines that do little to address more serious problems and crimes.


Belated kudos to the big winners of this year's Merrie Monarch: Halau I Ka Wekiu, kumu Karl Veto Baker and Michael Casupang. If you watch Career Changers TV, their faces -- along with one of the male hula dancers -- may have looked familiar because we featured them on our show last year. Here's a link to that video, which was shot and edited by Rob "Aukai" Reynolds, who performs with that halau.

Aukai left CCTV to accept a full-time job as multimedia director for the HART project. Speaking of which, Howard Dicus wrote an intelligent, level-headed blog piece on why he supports it (click here for his post). I agree with him a hundred percent, and have been making the same argument for mass transit and long-range community planning for the past 20-some years, while watching in frustration as the cost has multiplied due to all the delays and naysayers -- who still don't get that it will cost even more in the future, because it is inevitable that we will need some sort of rail system sooner or later.

It's the same with arguments against legalizing marijuana or gay marriage. Like it or not, those things are inevitable simply because of common sense. The War on Drugs has failed and you cannot say that pot is more dangerous than alcohol or prescription drugs, which come with a page full of side effects in small print. And not allowing gays to marry is discrimination, which is not permitted under our Constitution. The states that have passed laws against gay marriage, ironically, are practically ensuring the matter will have to go to the Supreme Court... and no matter what their politics are, I believe they will have to rule that you can't discriminate on the basis of one's sexuality or gender. It's like the judge who read my three-page letter about why I did not deserve to be ticketed for speeding -- what is "legal" or illegal is not the same as what is right.


More high school sports playoffs on OC16 this week, meaning the current episode of Career Changers TV is being preempted. But you can still see the new video segments on the CCTV YouTube Channel or DVR it during the weekday (click here for our normal viewing schedule and On Demand channel info).

6 Responses to “I Fought the Law... and Won”

  1. innocent observer:

    disagree with you opinion about jaywalking. there has been many pedestrian accidents in the past several years, and many of them were caused by jay walkers. just a warning will not stop the practice. a nice fine would, and when people become aware that the cops are ticketing jay walkers, people will more likely not do it.

  2. kamaaina808:

    Hi there. I read your post & the one before it about getting busted for speeding in Kailua. "Speed trap" or not - I know the road you're talking about... the one that my friend almost died on from getting hit by a speeder. She was walking her bike in the crosswalk nr. Safeway & a guy in an SUV nailed her, going about 35. Luckily, she survived.
    Think as you will, but sorry, 35 is too fast for that area & too bad the judge let you off. Lots of businesses & foot traffic coming/going because of the apartments, and that's why 25 mph. So please, STF down & we'll all be better off. The life you save might be one of my friends.

  3. Rich Figel:

    Actually, I wrote in my first post that the speed trap should have been in that area by Safeway because pedestrians do cross that section -- NOT the stretch that is hundreds of yards away from Safeway. The police were issuing tickets on a straight-away where there are no pedestrian crossings, no intersections. They did nothing to slow down drivers in the area that could use policing.

    Are you telling me you drive 25 mph everywhere you go in Kailua? Because most of the 4-lane streets in Kailua and elsewhere on Oahu have either 35 or 30 mph speed limits. And your comment doesn't address the fact that nearly all fatal accidents on Oahu have occurred at night or in the early morning hours, and are usually on highways. As for the driver who hit your friend, was that driver also on a cell phone or doing something that distracted them? Because they were either going much faster than 35 mph or not watching the road. The difference between driving 25 mph and 35 mph isn't much at all if a person is paying normal attention.

  4. Rich Figel:

    There IS a problem with jaywalkers... I see elderly people in Chinatown crossing busy streets with no regard for traffic. But police are ticketing people who are walking across Fort Street Mall when there is little or no traffic whatsoever, and the people who are crossing are in no danger. Moreover, most of the pedestrian accidents are happening on busy streets and highways, usually at night -- not in broad daylight at Fort Street Mall.

    It's like the speed traps that don't catch drunk drivers or people who are racing on highways at night. In any event, the judge sided with me, based on the evidence I presented.

  5. innocent observer:

    you only saw cops issuing tickets to jaywalkers in the downtown area. they are not limiting it to just downtown. so you gripe is unwarranted.

  6. Rich Figel:

    It's not my gripe -- I was referring to other letter writers and people who have been interviewed on the news in regard to the Otto's Cakes story. People who live and work Downtown are saying the police should spend less time ticketing jaywalkers on Fort Street Mall, and more time going after drug dealers and real criminals. And yeah, while driving through Chinatown -- which I probably do a lot more than YOU, because I have business clients there -- I have witnessed many older Chinatown residents crossing in the middle of Maunakea Street without regard for oncoming traffic.

    That despite the presence of a police station right on the corner and numerous parked police cars in the vicinity (yet few police actually patrolling that block).

    I am closing comments because it's apparent from some of the responses that certain posters would rather just argue or make personal attacks instead of actually reading what I wrote. For some reason, some people cannot accept that police are fallible human beings who should be held to the same standards of accountability and responsibility as any other civil servant or public employee.

    One last example of current cop attitudes: my wife and I were playing tennis on the public courts a couple of weekends ago. A car security alarm went off in the vicinity of one of the baseball fields by the school there. The alarm continued to sound for several minutes... while right behind the tennis courts, where the Kailua police station is located, I saw cops coming and going, completely ignoring the car alarm. So finally, I stopped playing and called out to one of the officers: "Excuse me, but that car alarm has been going off awhile. Shouldn't someone check to see if it was broken into?"

    At first the cop just gave me an annoyed look and shrugged -- not his problem. So I said, "Isn't that why people have car alarms -- you know, in case their cars get broken into? Aren't you gonna do anything?" He shook his head and replied, "Okay, I'll call it in." He could have actually walked over to the parking lot where the alarm was going off. But there was no sense of urgency. He didn't really care if the car was broken into or not...

    Which is also why it's a waste of money to have car or home security system alarms. Even if they work, the police won't respond UNLESS someone calls 911 and reports the crime themselves.

    Comments closed. Have a nice weekend -- and watch out for speed traps and police on Fort Street Mall looking to ticket dangerous jaywalkers!