One cold winter evening I was driving to my ringette game. Since I was just going to the game and back home again I didn't bring anything with me. No wallet, no ID, no nothing. I was pulled over by the police in a routine stopcheck. I wasn't worried because all through my driver training I had learned that you have up to 24 hours to produce your license at the police station. I slowed to a stop, rolled down my window, and explained to a scowling police officer that I didn't have my license on me but that he could check on the computer with my name.
He went back to his police car, I went back to listening to the radio and wishing I was wearing socks.
Suddenly, he appeared beside my window and demanded that I get out of the car and asking me if I had anything sharp on me. I kept reminding him that I (obviously) had nothing on me, unless he counted the skates that were tucked away in the trunk.
|This photo relates to the story because 1) it's winter and 2) it's the same car (wait, was it?)|
He put me in the back of the police car and told me that I was driving without a license. And that my car was being impounded. And that there was a serious charge against me. I was in shock and very confused as I had paid for my license 2 months earlier. I asked if I could use his phone to call my parents. No. I asked if I could borrow 25 cents. No. He let me go and I watched as my car was being towed away. I hurried as fast as my freezing feet would carry me across the street to a Humpty's restaurant. Now, I'm sure that most towns have this kind of restaurant... It's a place you really only want to be at 3am eating poutine, after dancing your heart out and drinking many cocktails. I begged a quarter from the waiter and called my parents to rescue me. They arrived in about 15 minutes, and handed my perfectly valid license to the officer.
Turns out that because I have an apostrophe in my last name everything got complicated. When I was 16 the computer system allowed the apostrophe, when I renewed when I was 17 it didn't. When the grumpy officer looked up my name he didn't try the various combinations (which I asked him to, name misspellings happen a lot!) and thought that I hadn't had a license since I was 16 years old. Strangely enough he wasn't very apologetic. Since the car was already taken to the police impound lot it cost us $150 to get it out and since the paperwork had already been filed I had a court date to discuss my driving without a license.
The problem was that I was leaving for England for 2 years before the court date. I had to track down the provincial prosecutor, explain the story and convince him of my innocence. He said that I had nothing to worry about and that he would stand up for me at the court date and have the whole thing dismissed. He also suggested that my whole family get new driver's licenses so that this never happened again.
As I was standing in line at security before boarding my international flight all I could think was that maybe I was going to be stopped because I was a criminal on the run.