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The Almighty Buck Transportation

Can You Buy a License To Speed In California? 325

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 Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @06:54PM (#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 mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:12PM (#46730221)

    To people outside of Arizona, we've got 35 (!) choices for our plate [] 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.

  • by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:20PM (#46730267)

    As a middle-class American I don't see either the Democrats or the Republicans doing anything for average American families. Or should I only care about the welfare of the "little people" until I become one myself?

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:26PM (#46730303)

    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.

  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46730369)


    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 general_re ( 8883 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:48PM (#46730457) Homepage

    To people outside of Arizona, we've got 35 (!) choices for our plate [] 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 [], not including the ability to have your own custom business logo [] 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 frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:52PM (#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 Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @07:57PM (#46730551)

    Since there's no cash contribution backing it up it don't expect it to get you very far. Remember, always ask "what's in this individual's best interests"? Then make your decision from there.

    It pays to invest money and time volunteering for the re-election campaigns of officials who will have a direct impact on your business and private affairs.

    Expecting a divorce with a major custody fight? Prepare now by volunteering for CASA. Network with judges and lawyers while creating the impression of what kind of outstanding and caring individual you are.

    Expecting major surgery in the coming year? Start ratcheting up on donations to your local non-profit hospital where the surgery will take place. Not just so physicians will work harder to provide quality care, but you'll be less likely to have any BS from the billing department. Out of network services suddenly billed at in-network rates with the swish of a pen.

    When regulators come around your business, always mention that you're hiring and ask if they know anyone with such-and-such skills or experience. If they refer you a close friend or relative, hire that person on the spot.

    And the number one rule of business: always take decision-makers out to lunch and pay for their meal.

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:30AM (#46732093)

    You're right though, I have no numbers to back up my theory, but... ...FFS, cut the 90 year old Pearl Harbor veteran some slack, 'eh?

    If you are a 90 year old Pearl Harbor veteran, you are a goddamn hero, no one denies that. But if you are still driving, FFS, get OFF THE ROAD before you ruin it an kill someone.

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @08:09AM (#46732713) Journal

    Good point, 2500 USD is pretty cheap for bribe...

    Some of the 'pricing' that goes into a bribe are

    A) chances the person taking the bribe will be caught accepting the bribe.
    B) chances the person taking the bribe will be caught doing whatever they were bribed to do
    C) risk level after considering any negative consequences for the bribed associated with B
    D) actual difficulty executing B
    E) how likely the briber can expect his payoff to secure the desired outcome

    Lets look at this situation:

    Group of officers starts a "Fraternal Order of Police" or something similar its ostensibly a charity for injured officers but also throws some fancy thank you and holiday parties for the force (the payoff). They pass out window stickers to contributors at certain levels. They know this helps because people like show off how generous they are (legit reason many charities do this (the cover)), they also know some people will cynically believe it will buy them special treatment and this badge is how they prove their entitlement. The officers with a nod and a wink agree to actually provide this special treatment because they think it will increase the donations leading the fancier and more frequent parties.

    Will they get caught? Not very likely unless someone does anything very stupid. They time when they collect the funds vs the time when they commit the act are widely separated. They act itself is in the negative. Not pulling someone over in the first place because you saw an FOB sticker in the window creates no audit-able event. Even fairly honest members of the public are unlikely to call the mayors office and complain that they just blew an officers doors off and he sat and did nothing. If there are lots of people around and the behavior is egregious they can pull someone over and warn them, none of the whiteness are likely to be able to tell if a warning or a ticket was issued.

    C) The risk is low because the odds getting caught are low and even if someone suspects their shot at proving anything is almost nil. It will be very hard to make any conspiracy charges stick, the worst the will likely happen is officers might be dismissed for under performance. Proving negatives are not easy; especially when there is already a discretionary element to writing tickets or not in the first place.

    D) Could not be any easier to execute, in fact its probably easier than doing their job correctly.

    E) Not every officer, likely not even most, will be in on the conspiracy, the payer cannont know for sure he won't get pulled over by an honest cop.

    So considering the situation the 'price' of this bribe should be low.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman