Getting out of a ticket — the Princess way |

Getting out of a ticket — the Princess way

Alison Berkley Margo
Aspen Princess

I was driving home from Steamboat the other day when I noticed a state patroller in front of me. As I slowed to maintain the safe distance of two car lengths from his back bumper, I thought it must be my lucky day. For once in my life, I wasn’t speeding.

Since I’ve had a child I’ve eased up on the gas, so to speak.

I have always loved to drive — not as a means of transportation, but for pleasure. This is a penchant I blame entirely on my father, who taught me to drive in a Porsche. My dad always drove sports cars. From the time he learned to drive, he and his mother shared a 1966 Corvette, a car they were eventually forced to sell when they were both in danger of having their driver’s licenses revoked on account of too many speeding tickets.

At the ripe age of 77, he drives a limited edition Subaru WRX and he talks about it like a teenage boy with a crush. “Isn’t it gorgeous?” he’ll ask, bragging about how fast it can go from zero to 60 or raving about its tight turning radius. “Don’t you love the color?” I agree, it is a nice shade of blue, a color he ended up with when my mom flat out refused to let him get the red one.

“I’m pretty sure there’s a reason it’s so popular among drug dealers,” I said.

I’ve been fortunate enough to inherit my father’s love for driving, as well as some of his cars. There was the time I got pulled over in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming in my dad’s Audi.

“It’s turbo,” I told the cop by way of explanation when he informed me I was going 120 miles per hour.

“Get out of the car, ma’am,” he said.

I panicked. “But I’m alone and far away from home,” I replied, as if I was in some kind of movie from the ’50s.

He ended up getting in the car with me, a move I was sure was going to take us into adult film territory. Then again, I was in my dirty 30s and that’s where my mind went. He ended up being a nice guy, chatty and probably bored. He shaved 20 miles per hour off my ticket so he wouldn’t have to arrest me for reckless driving.

“You Colorado girls have a lead foot,” he said with a chuckle and ripped my ticket off his pad. Come to think of it, it may have been a court summons that came back to haunt me later when I never went back to East Bumfork, Wyoming, to show up for court. Eventually my license was suspended, and it was a whole to-do, but one that I managed to skate out of without too much harm or foul.

The guy who pulled me over the other day wasn’t so nice.

Yes, I was a little confused when he pulled off the road in front of me so I could pass by and he could promptly pull me over.

“Ma’am, the reason I’ve pulled you over today is because you were driving in the middle of the road for quite a way there.”

This totally confused me.

“Would you mind taking off your glasses, please?”

Did he think I was … drunk? With a beautiful child who had been, up until he was rudely interrupted, sleeping in the back seat?

“I am seven thousand times sober,” I said, a little incredulous. “It’s the middle of the day!”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I imagined every drunk, desperate housewife in a luxury car with blonde hair and a beautiful blowout (Thanks, Queen B!) saying this very thing. Guilty people didn’t get defensive.

The pug was now standing on my lap with her head halfway out the window, snorting and carrying on. More than likely, she was sniffing the cop out for snacks. He had probably been eating lunch in his patrol car and she was doing a breathalyzer of the pug variety, analyzing the scent emanating from his mouth. He was pretty fit and trim — probably no doughnuts.

“Do you always drive with an animal in your lap?” he asked, his tone growing more aggressive.

Was that against the law? I wanted to ask, but thought better of it.

I told him I was just driving along, innocently listening to my book.

“Do you always drive in the middle of the road when you listen to a book? And you seem to have an attitude about drinking.”

“That’s because I’m emphatically opposed to drunk driving,” I said. “Especially with a young child in the car.”

“You’ve got an attitude about drunk drivers because you aren’t one?” he said, still with that tone. What was this guy’s problem?

That’s when it flashed into my head: I had been taking a selfie. I’ll admit it! I was bored, and a little curious about how I looked in my new sunglasses. The road was straight as an arrow, surrounded by wide-open plains. Don’t judge me. I’ve seen your profile pic and don’t think I didn’t notice the seatbelt you tried to crop out.

It was too late for honesty, I realized. It also dawned on me I should keep my big mouth shut. I tried apologizing, shrinking in posture and trying to show remorse.

That worked. He gave me a verbal warning, even though my proof of insurance had expired (why do I always forget to print out the new one?) and sent me on my way.

I learned my lesson: put the phone away and don’t take pictures of yourself while driving. In fact, stop taking pictures of yourself, period. It’s just weird. I guess another thing I know about myself is I never have been able to draw between the lines.

The Princess is going on a family road trip to Big Sur tomorrow. Email your love to