Car chases … Steve McQueen or Willie Nelson?

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Living in Southern California can be challenging enough with earthquakes, tsunami warnings, wild fires, winds, floods and earth or mudslides. We get used to the constant upheaval, the tumults, the felony robberies, family homicides and all just count it as part of doing business in So Cal. One item which strikes us about two to three times a day and is reported on some local television stations….and which shuts down their local programming is the Car Chase! There always seems to be some felon breaking probation or robbing someone of something that is being chased by three cities of cops and several police and news helicopters.

They are not all recidivist felons however, many are upset or drunk moms, sisters, sons, daughters, nieces or nephews.  People stoned on stolen Vicodin to pot heads, meth abusers and a whole litnany of distraught, out of work, out of cash folks that seemingly cannot hear the sound of 15 police sirens or see their flashing red lights. Some travel at speeds so slow, you wonder why the cops don’t just jog right next to the vehicle and shoot the tires out. Some are traveling at extrodinary speeds of over 120 miles per hour. Some travel on the rims of the wheels without tires, full of sparks and broken car parts. Some of these folks, break upwards of 150 motor vehicle code violations in a single chase. Others are simply dutiful drivers that stop at every stop sign or signal. Many have no qualms about hitting or crashing into dozens of other vehicles in their quest ot run out of gas. Others use both sides of the street with impunity. Many of these folks wind up T-Bone-ing some innocent citizen that has the green light and doesn’t know that some idiot is about to kill him…with 15 Police cars following in close pursuit.

Alot of these chases end in the driveway of their mom, dad, husband, wife or other relative. Most try to flee on foot eventually. Lot’s of them just follow police instructions and lay on the street or freeway with their hands behind their backs. Some of these not so briliant members of society bring their dogs, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives or even a grandmother or two.  We always wonder…..what happens to these folks after they are caught? Do they get out on bail? What about their drivers license? Why do we never hear much about these people after the local news shuts down its coverage of the two hour chase.  The special consultants making the commentary throughout the chase are usually spokesman for various police departments, some current or retired police helicopter pilots or observers. When the perp is caught…..will, that seems to be the end of the commentary. Where are the Public Service Announcements…with some guy saying not to do this craziness!

According to the California Vehicle Code…..VC 2800.1 and VC 2800.3 seem to be the applying sections that relate to penalties regarding a “Failure to Comply with a Police Officer Request to Stop. ” At the very least, you will face up to a year in county jail. Drivers who attempt to flee while displaying willful or wanton disregard for safety face further penalties, including six months to a year in a state prison or county jail, and/or significant fines. If, while attempting to flee, you cause another person serious bodily injury or death, you could be sentenced to three to five years in a state prison, a year in county jail, and/or significant fines.”

Recently, a 20-year-old girl from Newport Beach was speeding at over 100 miles per hour on Pacific Coast Highway….on the wrong side of the road. She died in a 14-car pileup which killed and maimed several other folks. The investigation so far revealed that she was under psychiatric care and taking a variety of prescription drugs. She wasn’t be chased by police…..but should have been. If she had not perished in the crash….that three to five years in a state prison doesn’t quite sound stiff enough for our taste.

Undoubtedly, the penalties for Car Chase activities in California by civilians are far too lenient. We need a far stiffer penalty structure that directly applies to these folks that put each and every one of us in danger. Those folks in Newport Beach maimed, killed and injured by the 20 year old girl…never did anything that would earn them these tragic rewards. First of all, we believe that if over five police cars are involved in any car chase and a helicopter……that person should spend five to 10 years in State Prison. There should be no ability to “plea bargain”, there should be a mandatory $100,000 fine. Folks involved in this manner need to be held without bail for upwards of one year.  Immediate revocation of the driving privilege for five years and reinstatement after that time; based upon an annual conditional renewal process – which requires  zero driving points on the record.  In cases where the runners are using their own vehicle…..those vehicles should be impounded and sold at auction…with proceeds split between the State and/or any victims.   The penalties need to be great enough to get everyone’s attention!

The dangers to society are many here in California. A bad freeway wreck, a foggy Grapevine Hill, an out of control truck that has lost its brakes on a downhill grade, Speeders going over 120 MPH drummed up on alcohol, cocaine, meth or other substances, grayhaired grandmas that can’t see over their own steering wheels, teenagers overloaded in a SUV on prom night with loud music and some cheap wine, texting men or women while driving on any major highway – deadly all, no doubt.

Anyone surely can make some bad decisions when driving, either because they could be arguing with a friend or family member, talking on a cell phone, eating a sandwich, or sneaking a sip of beer while driving back from lunch. Most of us stay lucky enough that the police or highway patrol don’t get us. However, if any of us were to decide to run from the police….that is wholly a different and more important life decision.  This single decision by most of us is something that makes our society what they call civilized. In the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau: It is a “Social Contract”! This ” Social Contract” we have established to say: “I will stop at a red light!”, “I will not drive into oncoming traffic!”  I will not create chaos on the roads by my driving!” and “I will obey the choices of our police officers!” Without these simple agreements….we have no civilized society…..we have a “MAD MAX” – “Road Warrior” world, where the innocent have no power or choice. The Law of Jungle takes over.

The pure thought of driving over 100 Miles Per Hour in a supercharged Mustang over the hills of San Francisco sounds exciting. The thought of driving on a country road stoned on a substance enjoying the beauty of the countryside….sounds both ethereal and other worldly.  The problem is: Don’t try doing any of that stuff…..with five cop cars following you with sirens and lights – as the Police and News helicopters are circling above. We urge our lawmakers to revisit the penalties for attempting to evade the police.

No more two hour car chases please! Go Directly to Jail, Do not Pass Go….for five to ten years! Not of course unless your name is Steve McQueen or Willie Nelson! Then, we might at least be sure of one thing, that the ending was going to have better outcome!


About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk show...is the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.