When Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies conduct traffic stops, they usually ask drivers if they know why they were pulled over. Occasionally, motorists do know why they were pulled over. Quite often, the conversation includes an excuse offered by the motorist. As yet, however, deputies haven’t documented whether they then ask motorists why they even offer an excuse, since the result has historically been a foregone conclusion. The most likely excuse for the excuse is probably a campaign to reduce or eliminate the fine. To date, there has been no recorded history of a citation or arrest being overturned due to a creative excuse. With the passing of the “hands-free” law, deputies have new reasons to pull motorists over, and motorists have new excuses for their behavior.
• A Coon Rapids woman, 58, was cited at 10:09 a.m. Jan. 12 on westbound Egg Lake Road N. and Fountain Avenue N. for speeding 48 mph in a 35 mph zone after eastbound deputies clocked her on radar when she didn’t slow down at the reduced speed zone. The motorist told deputies she was on her way home because her daughter was having a baby. She also admitted to deputies that she didn’t know the speed limit in the zone.
• A Chisago City woman, 20, was cited at 5:46 p.m. Jan. 29 in the 14000 block of northbound Forest Blvd. N. for semaphore violation after she blew through a red light at Frenchman Road without slowing down. Deputies were right behind her in the squad car, but she could not have seen them because her rear windshield being covered with snow. The motorist, who was traveling slower than the speed limit, told deputies she had recently been involved in a 360-degree spinout and crash, so she was “scared” of stopping. She was issued a verbal warning for failure to provide proof of insurance and rear window obstruction.
• A Hugo man, 25, was cited at 4:05 p.m. Feb. 22 in the 5000 block of eastbound Frenchman Road for tabs that expired in June 2018 and verbally warned for violating a corrective lens restriction and not having a driver’s license in possession. The driver told deputies he believed that after one year of not paying registration he was no longer required to pay for his tabs. As to the nonexistent driver’s license, the driver stated that he had lost it and had yet to apply for a new one. He presented his passport to deputies instead.
• A Hugo man, 45, was cited at 5:42 p.m. March 10 in the 4000 block of 130th Street N. for speeding 70 mph in a 55 mph zone and verbally warned for failing to update the address on his driver’s license. Deputies on routine patrol on southbound Forest Blvd. N. at 125th Street N. observed the subject traveling on northbound Forest Blvd. N. at a high rate of speed and clocked him on radar. The driver told deputies he had to drive fast to get the snow off his car.
• A Stillwater man, 23, was cited at 2:21 p.m. March 17 on westbound 170th Street N. at Forest Blvd. N. for speeding 69 mph in a 55 mph zone by eastbound deputies on rolling patrol. The motorist said he thought he was driving 65 mph, but was “having issues with several functions of his vehicle.”
• A Mahtomedi man, 34, was cited at 5:31 p.m. March 26 in the 14000 block of Victor Hugo Blvd. N. for speeding 67 mph in a 45 mph zone. Deputies on routine patrol observed him traveling westbound on Frenchman Road and pass another vehicle unsafely. The motorist nearly cut off another vehicle and got extremely close to another. When asked why he took his time stopping for deputies, the subject said he didn’t want to pull into his child’s day care and have his child see him stop for deputies. He said he had no reason for speeding. He was also verbally warned for unsafe passing.
• A White Bear Lake woman, 18, was cited at 6:42 p.m. March 27 in the 12000 block of northbound Forest Blvd. N. for driving after suspension and passing on the right after southbound deputies on routine patrol observed her use the right turn lane to pass a left-turning vehicle. During the traffic stop, the subject told deputies she didn’t happen to have her license on her as she had just renewed it and didn’t have the white paper copy with her. After a quick computer verification, deputies discovered the motorist was suspended. The subject said she didn’t believe she was suspended and that it was a mistake.
• A Hugo woman, 33, was cited at 10:43 a.m. March 29 on Heritage Parkway and Eminence Avenue for speeding 35 mph in a 30 mph zone. The motorist told deputies the reason she drove over the center line was that she had the flu and was coughing.
• A Hugo woman, 83, was cited at 11:00 a.m. April 1 on 157th Street N. and Farnham Avenue N. for tabs that expired in July 2018 after deputies on directed speed patrol in the 4000 block of Heritage Parkway N. spotted her tabs. The motorist said that she had leased the vehicle for the past two years and thought the dealership was responsible for the tabs.
• A local youth was cited at 7:21 a.m. April 8 in the 15000 block of Eminence Avenue N. for speeding 37 mph in a 30 mph zone by deputies on stationary patrol. The youth, who admitted to going “10 over,” said he was late for volunteering at his mom’s work. The youth had also received another motor vehicle citation one month prior.
• A Grant man, 24, was cited at 3:42 p.m. April 16 on 170th Street N. and Henna Avenue N. for not wearing a seat belt, after being pulled over for not displaying a rear bumper or rear license plate. As deputies observed the motorist, they noted the unused seat belt hanging by the door. The subject said his license plate must have fallen off. He did not have an explanation for the missing bumper.
• A Lino Lakes man, 30, was cited at 3:31 p.m. May 28 in the 6000 block of Egg Lake Road N. for speeding 48 mph in a 35 mph zone after deputies noticed the vehicle in front of them gradually increase speed from 35 mph to 48 mph. The driver, who had a lengthy history of speed and moving violations, told deputies he was aware of the limit but was having problems with his eyes.
• A Stillwater Township man, 19, was cited at 3:08 p.m. June 24 in the 14000 block of Fitzgerald Avenue N. for failing to stop at the stop sign on eastbound upper 146th Street N. before turning right onto southbound Fitzgerald Avenue. The driver, who pulled himself over, said he “rolled the stop sign a little bit” due to the fact he was driving a manual transmission.
• An unidentified adult male was arrested at 3:15 p.m. June 25 in the 5000 block of 147th Street N. after he drove around the Speedway gas station to avoid deputies conducting traffic; he then headed southbound on Forest Blvd. N. without using a turn signal. A National Crime Information Center check showed the driver with a canceled license and ignition interlock. The subject told deputies he wasn’t driving the vehicle with ignition interlock because it was being fixed.
• A Stillwater Township man, 37, was cited at 11:14 p.m. June 30 in the 12000 block of southbound Forest Blvd. N. for driving after suspension, failure to change address on driver’s license and failure to provide proof of insurance after being pulled over by northbound deputies whose suspended license alarm on their automatic license plate reader went off. The motorist told deputies he thought he’d taken care of his prior citations.
• A Hugo woman was cited at 4:26 p.m. July 26 in the 14000 block of Forest Blvd. N. for driving after suspension, failure to provide proof of insurance and failure to change address on driver’s license after deputies on stationary patrol received an alert from their automatic license plate reader when the subject’s vehicle passed. The motorist told deputies that although she didn’t have proof of insurance on her, she was insured with Progressive. However, when deputies checked with Progressive, they were told the subject had a policy up until April but never renewed it.
• A Circle Pines woman, 36, was cited at 1:53 p.m. July 27 on westbound 170th Street N. and Henna Avenue N. for speeding in a 55 mph zone by eastbound deputies on stationary patrol who clocked her at 73 mph. The motorist told deputies she was in a hurry because she had to pee.
• An East Bethel man, 51, was cited by southbound deputies on routine patrol at 8:23 p.m. Aug. 11 on northbound Forest Blvd. N. and 159th Street N. for speeding 51 mph in a 35 mph zone and for semaphore violation. While deputies had the radar gun trained on the motorist, they simultaneously were able to observe the speed at which he ran the red light. Deputies had to turn around and conduct a traffic stop to retrieve the license plate number, as it was hidden behind the boat towed behind the vehicle. The driver’s excuses for speeding and running the red light were as follows: “I thought the speed limit was 45 and at the light I had a choice to make and I made it.” Deputies quickly advised the motorist that he was spared even bigger trouble because when deputies first spotted him speeding, he had just passed the construction cones and was no longer within the construction zone.
• A Stillwater woman, 21, was cited by westbound deputies at 7:49 a.m. Aug. 17 in the 6000 block of eastbound Egg Lake Road N. for speeding 48 mph in a 35 mph zone. The motorist asked deputies if she was going a little fast, and told them she had to get home to Stillwater and then to work in Minneapolis by 9 a.m.
• The driver of a Ford Escape was cited at 12:57 p.m. Sept. 8 on southbound Highway 61 just south of Frenchman Road for driving after suspension. Deputies received an automatic license plate reader alarm when her vehicle passed. The motorist told deputies that she had a lot of tickets, was on the payment plan and was entitled to regain valid status. Deputies quickly assured her that her status was still suspended.
• A Minnesota husband was cited at 10:43 a.m. Oct. 12 in the 5000 block of westbound 140th Street N. for tabs that expired in November. The driver told deputies it was his wife’s car and that the registration task must have slipped through the cracks.
• A Minnesota motorist was cited at 4:44 p.m. Oct. 22 in the 14000 block of southbound Everton Avenue N. for tabs that expired in April and dark window tint by deputies on routine patrol who were sitting at the red light at Frenchman Road and Forest Blvd. N. The traffic stop was conducted because of the “extremely dark window tint.” The driver said he had originally forgotten about the tabs, then remembered, then forgot again. Deputies’ tint enforcer showed 16% light emitting from the subject’s windows. The driver said that when he got the windows, he was advised they were 25% light-emitting. Deputies stood their ground, because they’d had their Tint-O-Meter tested before and after their shift that day. The motorist was also verbally warned for not possessing proof of insurance.
• A music listener was cited at 8:57 a.m. Oct. 29 in the 14000 block of southbound Forest Blvd. N. for cellphone use while driving after northbound deputies observed her activity at the red light. The driver told deputies she knew why they had stopped her and that she was changing the music on her phone.
• A Minnesota driver was cited at 10:39 a.m. Nov. 3 on westbound Oneka Lake Blvd. N. and Geneva Avenue N. for speeding 35 mph in a 30 mph zone by east-facing deputies operating stationary radar who clocked him at 39 mph. The driver said she was late for church.
• A distracted driver was cited at 4:34 p.m. Nov. 5 on westbound Frenchman Road and Elmcrest Avenue for using a wireless communications device while driving. Deputies driving beside him noticed him holding his phone at steering wheel level. Deputies further observed the driver appearing to scroll or push buttons on his device. The driver said he was aware of the hands-free law and had just taken his phone out of his pocket to give to his passenger. When deputies noted that his passenger on her own phone, they asked the driver why she would need to be given his phone while underway when she already had her own phone. The passenger piped up, “Maybe he didn’t know I had mine.”
• A dump truck driver was cited at 3:54 p.m. Nov. 8 on Frenchman Road at Victor Hugo Blvd. for semaphore violation after deputies with the right of way to turn left and proceed east on Frenchman Road were nearly hit by the eastbound dump truck. During the traffic stop, the dump truck driver said he did not want to stop because he “was loaded” and did not want to “screech his tires.” When deputies asked the driver if he was unable to stop for red semaphores if he believed he was traveling too fast, he said no. He needed to get this load to its destination before it cooled, he said.
• A Minnesota driver was cited at 3:57 p.m. Dec. 1 in the 4000 block of westbound Frenchman Road for not wearing a seat belt after eastbound deputies on routine patrol waiting at the semaphore observed the beltless driver. Deputies noticed his vehicle so covered with snow that his brake lights and rear license plate were not visible. The driver said he was just on his way to work and that he had brushed his vehicle off earlier in the day.
• A woman was cited at 5:28 p.m. Dec. 7 in the 13000 block of southbound Forest Blvd. N. for disobeying a semaphore after eastbound deputies on Frenchman Road waiting at the red light to turn north observed her run the red light. After the light turned red for southbound and northbound traffic and green for eastbound Frenchman Road traffic, our motorist continued through the intersection on the red light. During the traffic stop deputies noted a pair of glasses on the top of the driver’s head and a corrective lens restriction on her license. The driver stated that she was not sure why it was there and did not need glasses to drive.