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The Almighty Buck Transportation

Can You Buy a License To Speed In California? 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the downside-is-that-you-have-to-be-in-california dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Alex Mayyasi reports that in the parking lots of Silicon Valley's venture capital firms, expensive cars gleam in the California sun and a closer look reveals that the cars share a mysterious detail: they nearly all have a custom license plate frame that reads, 'Member. 11-99 Foundation.' Are the Bay Area's wealthy all part of some sort of illuminati group that identifies each other by license plate instead of secret handshakes? The answer is the state highway patrol — the men and women that most people interact with only when getting ticketed for speeding. A number of the frames read 'CHP 11-99 Foundation,' which is the full name of a charitable organization that supports California Highway Patrol officers and their families in times of crisis. Donors receive one license plate as part of a $2,500 'Classic' level donation, or two as part of a bronze, silver, or gold level donation of $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000. Rumor has it, according to Mayyasi, that the license plate frames come with a lucrative return on investment. As one member of a Mercedes-Benz owners community wrote online back in 2002: 'I have the ultimate speeding ticket solution. I paid $1800 for a lifetime membership into the 11-99 foundation. My only goal was to get the infamous 'get out of jail' free license plate frame.'

The 11-99 Foundation has sold license plate frames for most of its 32 year existence, and drivers have been aware of the potential benefits since at least the late 1990s. But attention to the issue in 2006-2008 led the foundation to stop giving out the frames. An article in the LA Times asked 'Can Drivers Buy CHP Leniency?' and began by describing a young man zipping around traffic — including a police cruiser — and telling the Times that he believed his 11-99 frames kept him from receiving a ticket. But the decision was almost irrelevant to another thriving market: the production and sale of fake 11-99 license plate frames. But wait — the CHP 11-99 Foundation also gives out membership cards to big donors. 'Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you,' says one cop, 'no love will be shown.'"
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Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

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  • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:44PM (#46730055)
    Heh, in AZ you can buy a specialized, state issued 'honoring fallen officers' license plate-- with similar effects.
    • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:12PM (#46730221)

      To people outside of Arizona, we've got 35 (!) choices for our plate [servicearizona.com] outside of the default, each costing $25 extra, and $25 extra-extra if you want it personalized.

      A few of them have restrictions (purple heart, alternative fuel, veteran), but the rest are a pure style choice. Anyone with $50,000 and a NPO can get a plate into production - since $17 of the $25 goes to your charity.

      So, yes, there's no doubt that Families of Fallen Police Officers plates, as well as Veteran, and Purple Heart have a higher bar set for the threshold of getting pulled over. In addition to those plates, you can by-hand order Congressional Medal of Honor, Former POW and Pearl Harbor Survivor. All of which I'm sure are mostly free from traffic tickets -- just not something you can purchase on a whim. Survived Pearl Harbor? Fuck it, Mr. Have a nice day.

      An aside... ....there was a guy from a native tribe here who was a fairly famous war veteran. [A quick search of CMH winners doesn't show him, but I'm sure it'll pop into my head some day.] He lived NW of Phoenix, and reportedly the van that took him to his Elks Lodge or VFW hall used to drive like a bat out of hell across 93 through Joshua Tree -- and the cops smiled and waved.

      • Yeah, I lived in AZ for about 18 months and was a absolutely bewildered by the number of different plates.

        I get revenue generation and money being tight and all that.. but you should be able to tell at a quick cursory glance what state a plate is from.

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          Law changed in AZ back in 2008 where license pate frames now have to clearly show the "ARIZONA" that's on top of all of the specialty plates.

          http://www.azcentral.com/news/... [azcentral.com]

          ...but you're right. It's a mind-blowing menagerie of custom plates out here.

          • by knarfling (735361) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:46PM (#46730437) Journal
            There is a reason for all the different colors of license plates. You used to be able to say that you could tell the changing seasons by the changing colors ... of the license plates. There are so many out-of-state visitors during the winter that it used to be easy to tell the snowbirds from the residents.
            Probably someone decided that the snowbirds were either getting picked on or getting preferential treatment, so lots of colors of AZ plates were made. As a bonus, more money comes in!!

            Did you know that AZ has very short winters? Last year it was on a Tuesday.
            • by mythosaz (572040)

              Heh.

              It's not much of a secret what time of the year the Canadian and Minnesotan license plates show up. They can invariably be found in the left lane on I-10 going roughly the speed limit -- or as we like to call it here, "the minimum speed for the slow lane."

              • by knarfling (735361) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:52PM (#46730481) Journal
                The goal in AZ is to match your speed with the number of the freeway. On the I-10 and the I-17 it slows things down to a crawl. The 51 and the 60 are a bit more challenging, especially in rush-hour. But with the 101, the 202 and the 303, you better have those "honoring fallen officers" plates attached.
              • makes leaving arizona rather hard.. since you find yourself screaming at other motorists "WHY ARE YOU ONLY DRIVING 55!" (in a 55 zone)
      • by Jeremi (14640) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:18PM (#46730255) Homepage

        All of which I'm sure are mostly free from traffic tickets -- just not something you can purchase on a whim. Survived Pearl Harbor? Fuck it, Mr. Have a nice day.

        I know gut instinct is what the Slashdot comments section runs on, but what actual, non-anecdotal evidence to we have that police officers give preferential treatment to people with these license-plate holders?

        Has any of this actually been studied in a scientific way, and if so, what were the results?

      • by general_re (8883) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:48PM (#46730457) Homepage

        To people outside of Arizona, we've got 35 (!) choices for our plate [servicearizona.com] outside of the default, each costing $25 extra, and $25 extra-extra if you want it personalized.

        Amateurs. Here in Virginia we have over 200 choices [virginia.gov], not including the ability to have your own custom business logo [virginia.gov] on the plate if you have a large enough fleet. You can't tell me some of those don't get you a little special consideration when you get pulled over.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Yeah, but in AZ probably 1/3 of the plates are "disabled parking" and the drivers generally make up for the speeding by driving at half the speed limit.

  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:46PM (#46730073)
    I have the very special CHP 11/99 "Gold" plate, gets me off for up to 5 vehicular homicides.
    • by korbulon (2792438)

      I have the very special CHP 11/99 "Gold" plate, gets me off for up to 5 vehicular homicides.

      Affluenza claims another victim. Can nothing be done?!

    • Re: I got this beat (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In Ottawa we have something called "red plates", which pretty much provides this, but for a different reason. It's well-known there that if you see a red plate, to stay _very_ far away, especially as a pedestrian.

  • Go figure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spankey51 (804888) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:49PM (#46730089)
    Well... If you can do it with congressmen and senators, then of course you can do it with lower-level stateworkers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:50PM (#46730091)

    'Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you,' says one cop, 'no love will be shown.'"

    So what he is saying is you DO get love (aka get out of jail free) if you show the card.

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      Yes. As long as you don't offer cash or gifts directly to the officer he has the discretion to let you go with a warning. You can still offer bribes; they're just illegal and could get you into more trouble if the officer follows a code of ethics or too many run-ins with internal affairs. Supporting these charities seems to have almost just as good of an effect without the liability.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      So what he is saying is you DO get love (aka get out of jail free) if you show the card.

      He is implying that you might get some love on a one-off stop; perhaps a warning or a more-lenient ticket.

      On the other hand... is donating $2500 to a charity, really worth avoiding a couple potential traffic tickets?

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        is donating $2500 to a charity, really worth avoiding a couple potential traffic tickets?

        I don't know about California, but in Oklahoma a speeding ticket is going to cost you at least $200. If you avoid two tickets a year, it would pay for itself in 12.5 years.
        Of course, I'm a grown up now, and not as likely to be pulled over at any rate. I haven't been pulled over in about 8 years and haven't had a ticket in about 20.

        • by pla (258480) on Friday April 11, 2014 @08:30PM (#46731059) Journal
          I don't know about California, but in Oklahoma a speeding ticket is going to cost you at least $200. If you avoid two tickets a year, it would pay for itself in 12.5 years.

          No one really cares about the tickets themselves. For someone making $200k a year, they would gladly pay $200 every week for the right to zip through crawling traffic.

          The real problem comes from getting "points" and the eventual loss of your license. And once that happens, you have drive like a frickin' choirboy or they start giving out real punishments, like spending weekends in a cage (c'mon, let's not pretend people actually stop driving when they lose their license - In 99% of the US, "not driving" amounts to a sentence of death-by-life-on-welfare).
      • by OneAhead (1495535)
        Oh I'm sure there are people out there for whom the time wasted on the preparation and payment of the tickets is worth that much money. It's ballpark 1/100 of the price of a basic yacht and the more you speed, the more you get out of it. Also this is just one officer they interviewed; there might be others who won't stop you at all, which means even more time saved.
  • PBA Cards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:51PM (#46730095)

    On most of the east coast, you'd better make sure to hand your PBA card [wikipedia.org] over to the officer when he asks for your registration.

    It's the same as handing $20 to the check-in clerk in Vegas with your ID.

    • by Albanach (527650)

      You can always take the 'just stick to the speed limit' approach. It's also pretty effective for avoiding tickets.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <<gterich> <at> <aol.com>> on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:51PM (#46730099) Journal

    It's the cops extorting money. It's not just speeding. This creates the appearance that, if you do not buy the membership, you'll be stopped and shown absolutely no mercy, and may even have charges trumped up against you - or otherwise be punished.

    This is tantamount to soliciting bribes.

    • This creates the appearance that, if you do not buy the membership, you'll be stopped and shown absolutely no mercy

      we give these people [policemisconduct.net] a monopoly on violence and expect what, exactly, Andy Taylor and Barney Fife?

    • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:35PM (#46730369)

      Meh.

      Generally speaking, unless it's a motorcycle cop specifically tasked to speed/traffic, when a cop pulls you over, he's got a bunch of latitude. He adds a bunch of factors up in his head and decides if you're getting a ticket.

      What's next? You gonna complain that hot girls should get more tickets?

      Human nature.

    • by jafac (1449)

      a.k.a. : a "protection racket"

    • by quantaman (517394)

      It's the cops extorting money. It's not just speeding. This creates the appearance that, if you do not buy the membership, you'll be stopped and shown absolutely no mercy, and may even have charges trumped up against you - or otherwise be punished.

      This is tantamount to soliciting bribes.

      Soliciting bribes maybe, they're not accepting the money personally.

      And unless cops go around advising motorists to buy the membership I don't see how it can be extortion, and I don't think the idea that if you don't have a membership "you'll be stopped and shown absolutely no mercy, and may even have charges trumped up against you - or otherwise be punished" is particularly compelling. I'd assume without a card they'd carry out their duties as usual (as good or bad as they usually are).

      The cops are obvious

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Friday April 11, 2014 @08:43PM (#46731115)

      This is tantamount to soliciting bribes.

      But it's not. Remember: money = free speech.

      Rich people are allowed to convince the police officer to not give them a speeding ticket using their form of free speech (money), just as you're allowed to convince the police officer to not give you a speeding ticket using your form of free speech (words from your mouth).

      Guess which one will probably result in a beating.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:54PM (#46730113)

    But here's the thing. If I pull you over and you have one of our public servant honor tags, you're still getting a ticket for whatever I pulled you over for. In fact, I am less likely to let you go, because of the appearance of impropriety created by these tags. I get a lot more "by the book" when someone starts flashing special tags and membership cards at me.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But here's the thing. If I pull you over and you have one of our public servant honor tags, you're still getting a ticket for whatever I pulled you over for. In fact, I am less likely to let you go, because of the appearance of impropriety created by these tags. I get a lot more "by the book" when someone starts flashing special tags and membership cards at me.

      You must be the one honest cop I've heard so much about. Nice to hear from you.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      But here's the thing. If I pull you over and you have one of our public servant honor tags, you're still getting a ticket for whatever I pulled you over for. In fact, I am less likely to let you go, because of the appearance of impropriety created by these tags. I get a lot more "by the book" when someone starts flashing special tags and membership cards at me.

      Is that just you or your department in general? For you at least I buy your explanation, but my question is, considering all the appearance trouble with the tags, if they aren't for nefarious purposes then what are they for?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kohath (38547)

      How about getting an honest job where you don't spend your days ambushing travelers and taking their money?

      • by jensend (71114)

        How about not recklessly endangering others' lives and not showing contempt for democracy and the rule of law?

        If you want to spend a few trillion dollars of your own money to build your own private road network where you can drive at whatever speed you darn well please, go right ahead. But if you want to use the road infrastructure paid for by your fellow citizens, you need to live with the rules your fellow citizens have put in place.

        Protecting the rest of us from numbskulls like you is not just honest wor

        • by smash (1351)
          Take a trip to Germany, and hire a car. Drive to a few countries.
    • Toronto police union tried this, but got shut down within weeks.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:57PM (#46730127) Homepage Journal

    The problem is simple.

    Unlike in Sweden or Norway, where your ticket depends on your income, the fine is a small amount to a billionaire.

    And that billionaire will make the arresting cop's life miserable and throw lawyers at the "case" like confetti.

    It takes a brave police officer to stand up to pressure like that, high risk, low reward, no chance of promotion or contract work ever after you're blacklisted for off-duty security work on all the top tech campus and party locations.

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      It might help if judges or sheriffs were appointed by elected officials and not elected directly. The wealthiest family in a small town can hold a lot of sway when they are the financiers of all the local politicians. Same can be said of the wealthiest corporations running our country.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      All it takes is 3 or 4 speeding tickets in pretty much any state and you won't have a valid license, then the next ticket is typically an arrest ... Some states allow more but not many and not much.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        All it takes is 3 or 4 speeding tickets in pretty much any state and you won't have a valid license, then the next ticket is typically an arrest ... Some states allow more but not many and not much.

        That's true. You're much better off getting drunk and running down pedestrians. They'll let you keep your license until you've mowed down at least a dozen and then won't throw you in jail until you've mowed down a dozen more.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:58PM (#46730143) Homepage Journal

    This is what speed cameras are for.

    • by reboot246 (623534)
      Do you not think that the database would have those particular license plates listed so that no tickets would be issued?

      That's my main objection to speed cameras, stop sign cameras, and red light cameras. I suspect that there is a list of politicians, city leaders, police officers, or friends of theirs who would never, ever get a ticket. The system knows which ones to ignore. The rest of us get the tickets.
    • by Sentrion (964745)

      Except that cops check those as well and make the final call on what is a violation and what is not. A few years back officers in Dallas were caught withholding tickets from friends and family.

  • by briancox2 (2417470) on Friday April 11, 2014 @05:58PM (#46730147) Homepage Journal
    Look the other way here, please. California is a key source for organ donations.

    As the Chinese like to say, "Don't break your brother's rice bowl."
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      When your body goes through a high speed accident that kills, many times the organs are too damaged to be used.

    • by guevera (2796207)
      Actually, Cali has one of if not the lowest rates of donation in the country.
  • by mishehu (712452) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:24PM (#46730295)
    there is the Fraternal Brotherhood of Police, which would give out stickers to place in your back window. Rumor was that it would cause police throughout the state to be more... forgiving... in the cases of traffic violations.
  • Patternicity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:29PM (#46730321) Homepage

    Around here, it's supposedly the FOP badges and/or stickers that help. Or it's the parking lot stickers for the local hospitals. Or it's the toll road transponders. Or it's being the next-to-last person in a cluster. Or it's being in the left lane. Or it's matching speed with the other speeders around you.

    It's just like gambling. Everyone has their system that they think works, and nobody's ever done research to actually check if the statistics hold. Somebody sees a pattern [scientificamerican.com] and they think it's just so good that it must be right.

    • Pattern recognition is an interesting way to put it.

      We are predisposed to pattern recognition. Selection also likely accounts for the fortunate ones... whose patterns of recognition proved causal rather than corollary, such as this leaf cures that malady.

      Luck plays a role in any contest. Including life.

      • by Fnord666 (889225)

        Pattern recognition is an interesting way to put it.

        We are predisposed to pattern recognition. Selection also likely accounts for the fortunate ones... whose patterns of recognition proved causal rather than corollary, such as this leaf cures that malady.

        Don't forget a healthy sprinkling of confirmation bias on top.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:48PM (#46730461)

    Saint Jobs just drove around without a license plate.

    • by mschuyler (197441)

      But it was legal because his cars were never more than 6 months old.

      • It's true. There was some obscure set of laws that, when put together, allowed him to get away with it because he was constantly procuring a new lease every few months for a new car.

        Talk about taking minimalistic approaches a bit too far.

  • by Nexion (1064)

    You also might want to donate yearly to PORAC. They have this nice little sticker they send you that has had truly amazing results for me in the past. I think my favorite was when a CHP officer rolls up next to me, gets on his PA and says "The speed laws are for everyone." Not that it always got me out of tickets. Sometimes I would get a ticket for the posted speed limit plus five mph and a plus sign next to it. You just go ahead and pay that by writing in a plea of "Guilty/Traffic School".

    Then I would do o

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:52PM (#46730483)

    'Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you,' says one cop, 'no love will be shown.'

    It is a shame that they didn't name that cop. This is pretty much confirmation that everything accused is going on. Goes on in other states too, often with metal "Sheriff's Association Donor" badges that are attached to cars. What a shock that there is little respect for law enforcement any more.

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:24PM (#46730703) Journal

    Get a "Bad Cop/No Donut" bumper sticker, a LOT of cameras, drive the speed limit, and enjoy the eventual civil rights lawsuit.

  • I have to say that among most of the states in which I've driven, California cops seem to be the most lenient. And by that, I mean; California has some high-limit roads... 70, 75. Actual average speeds are more like 80-85 on these highways. Some other states seem to be stuck at 55 for most roads, and their cops seem to be real assholes about driving more than 5 over. (specifically, Utah, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, where I've either been a driver or passenger in a car getting pulled over).

  • If it can be proven that owners of these plates were given leniency against speeding and moving violations then every person who has ever received a ticket in California during this class period should be able to sue to recover their costs for ticket fines.
  • by guevera (2796207) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46730781)
    ....is that I need to start forging the ID cards, too. Cool. I'm on it.
  • by PPH (736903)

    But wait â" the CHP 11-99 Foundation also gives out membership cards to big donors. 'Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you,' says one cop, 'no love will be shown.'"

    On the other hand, if you have a US DoJ ID and the cop says, "No 11-99 ID, no leniency", he goes to Club Fed and the rest of the department goes under investigation for corruption.

    I'm amazed anyone from the CHP was stupid enough to make the above statement.

  • In Montreal we had the VIP parking sticker fiasco. The roads here are too cracked and broken for anyone to speed on them, so instead, we had special stickers so people could park for free.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:07AM (#46731917) Journal

    'Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you,' says one cop, 'no love will be shown.'"

    Seems to me that this cop has just admitted that he does in fact practice selective enforcement.

    -jcr

  • by Barbarian (9467) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @09:57AM (#46733407)

    I'm not too concerned about getting away with minor speeding. I'm more concerned about impartiality in accident reports, and excusing criminally negligent behavior. Is this happening? If so the solution, unfortunately, is 100% recording of traffic from the police vehicle point of view, and removal of all officer discretion.

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