Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil
“I apologize ahead of time for the long story.
Thursday November 10th at around 6:15pm I was pulled over by a DC police officer. The encounter was really strange and a little unsettling, so I’m wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences. Below is the encounter:
I was driving north on New Hampshire Ave, passing the Georgia Ave intersection, and turning right on Rock Creek Church Rd. The light at the intersection was green as I entered and turned yellow shortly thereafter. I was out of the intersection before it turned red. So I turned right on Rock Creek Church Rd and pulled up to the curb to park. I turned my car off and when I turned to get out of my car I noticed there was a car pulled up directly to my left, blocking me in. It was a police car (flashers were NOT on) and the officer was sitting inside it just staring at me. I rolled down my window and said “hello” – the officer did not respond but continued to stare at me. I then asked a series of questions including: Is there something I can help you with? Have I done something wrong? Am I in your way? The officer did not answer any of my questions, but just continued to stare at me. Confused, I took off my seatbelt and was about to try and open my door, when he started backing his vehicle up. I figured he was leaving, but instead he backed up to be diagonal behind my vehicle and then turned his flashers on.
He immediately got out of the car and walked up to my window and asked why I went through the light on yellow.
I told him I thought it was green when I entered and then turned yellow, he informed me it was yellow before I entered and that it’s illegal to go through a light on yellow. I apologized and told him I honestly thought it was still green when I entered. He asked to see my license, registration, and insurance information.
[Side note: I did not have my license with me because I was driving 7 blocks to feed a friends cat while she is out of town, so I had left my wallet at home. I honestly always have my license with me and of course the one time I didn’t, I got pulled over.]
I informed the officer that I didn’t have my license but I did have my vehicle registration and insurance information. He then proceeded to basically interrogate me with a series of questions about why don’t I have my license, how does he know I really have a license and am a legal driver, do I know the number of my license, what if something were to happen to me how would they identify me, where do I live, what am I doing over here, have I been drinking tonight, am I sure I haven’t been drinking tonight, am I lying to him because he doesn’t like being lied to…
Throughout this whole conversation I was incredibly polite, answered all of his questions, calling him sir and officer, and I wasn’t lying about anything! But the entire encounter he was very curt with me and he seemed angry, which really confused me because I gave him no reason to be. Overall, he seemed very suspicious of me. At then end of this “interrogation” he said “okay then” and started walking back to his car. He never indicated the encounter was over, he never actually looked at my vehicle registration or insurance, and he never took down my name to run it (which would have shown him that I have a valid drivers license). I wasn’t sure if that was the end, so I poked my head out of my window and asked if I was waiting for him to come back or if he needed to see my vehicle information and he forcefully replied “you are no longer being detained”. And then he drove off.
I realize I should have gotten a license plate or badge number on this guy, but I was so concerned that I might get a ticket for running a light (that I didn’t actually run) or for not having a license that I didn’t think of getting his information until after it was too late. The whole thing just seemed odd, from the beginning with him just staring at me while next to my car, to the crazy line of questioning, to the end where he told me I wasn’t being detained any more.
I am relatively new to DC and this was my first encounter with DC police. Is this normal? Has anyone else in the area had an experience like this? Is it the New Hampshire/Georgia intersection that’s maybe a hot spot? Any advice is appreciated.”
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