Brains-free D.C.

D.C. denizens are familiar with the four-year-old Hands-Free D.C. law in which you can never, ever have a cell phone IN YOUR HAND whilst driving unless you’re dialing. Fine. So, we all have our Bluetooth or other ear-adorning devices, yes?

So I was rolling over to Alexandria, Va., today, with the iPhone that is permanently glued to my hip. And I usually don’t wear my earbuds (you know, the things that COME WITH THE PHONE), but since I was trying to meet up with some friends and the game plan was getting modified, I opted to keep the earbuds on just in case.


I have to tell the story because I resisted being pulled over. Twice. And lived to tell about it!

I took the GW Parkway straight into Old Town. The whole time I was on it, there were three cops boxing me in. One in front, one to the left, and one behind. I was NOT happy.

I was going about 55 in a 40. But I figured the asshole to my left was still half a car length ahead of me, so as long as I didn’t outpace him, he couldn’t pull me over. I even memorized his car number — I wasn’t going down for speeding when I wasn’t going the fastest!

I noticed the cop behind me went to pass me (go for it). He got beside me and then suddenly dropped behind me. Hmm. Bizarre. I slowed down by about 5 mph and figured he’d get annoyed enough to pass me for real.

He didn’t.

So we get into Old Town, and there was a light turning red. I went through the yellow and I know it had to be red for the cop.

He went through it.

I stopped for the next light, and the fucker turns his lights on.

I pulled over behind where another cop was parked. He pulled behind me and sat there. I waited and waited and I figured maybe he was pulling over to go hang with his other cop friend (the one I’d been beside). And since I wasn’t worried about breaking any laws because my halo’s been on straight for a while, I pulled away.



At dinner, my friends were stunned that I hadn’t been incarcerated at this point. Who pulls away when they’re getting pulled over? But I figured, he was taking his sweet time getting out of the car — maybe I wasn’t the one he was trying to pull over?

So he pulls me over AGAIN a block later. 😉

OK, fine, now I’m just pissed off.

I kept easing my car off the street, onto a side street. I hate when these swinging-dick cops pull people over and jam up traffic for a half-hour. He starts saying something on his little intercom but my windows were up and I couldn’t hear him. So I boldly (stupidly) threw up my hands in the rearview mirror and said, “What? Why?”

I should have just been shot on sight for that. But seriously, LOOK AT ME. I clearly am confused about this so make some eye contact. Is that so much to ask?

So I went one step further and took out the earbuds, undid my seat belt and started to get out of the car.

Yeah, I’m an idiot.

He boomed at me to get back in, which I did. At which point he moseyed out and said, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

I said not really, which was why I was quite confused whether he meant for me to pull over or whether he had gotten an emergency call and was flashing the lights for some other reason.

He said, “You’re driving with earbuds.”

I was shocked. “Yes?”

“That’s against the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

“I wasn’t aware of that.”

“Does your radio work, ma’am?”


“‘Does. Your. Radio. Work. MA’AM?”

I looked at it. “Um, yes?”

“Then why aren’t you using it?”

“Because I turned it off when you pulled me over?”

“And your seatbelt’s not fastened?”

“I took it off when I went to get out of the car?”

I wasn’t nervous, but I kept making statements like they were questions. Normally I just shut up and accept my damn ticket, but after being stressed the fuck out from being boxed in by three cop cars for 10 goddamned miles, I assumed we were playing reindeer games so I was just being myself.

“License and registration.”

Now that, I could handle.

“Ma’am, it is illegal to have things dangling from your rearview mirror.”

I looked at the Yankee Candle scented doo-dad CAR AIR FRESHENER hanging from the window. “Seriously?” I said as he wandered away.

I was pissed off enough to yank it down and rip it into a dozen pieces. I also turned on my damn radio since he was so interested in whether it worked.

He came back when he was ready. “Ma’am, when was the last time you had a ticket?”

I thought back. “I dunno. Maybe a year?”

He almost snickered. “Oh, you think a year?”

I said, “I really don’t know the time frame. It was at (blah blah) intersection. I was speeding.”

He said, “It was six months ago, ma’am.”

Enough with the “ma’am” shit. GAH.

“OK,” I said.

“You don’t want another ticket, do you?”

“Um, no?”

“Ma’am, it is illegal to listen to your iPod while driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I can give you a big ticket right now for that.”

I was confused. “But this is an iPhone.” I showed it to him. “The earbuds are so I can answer the phone and talk hands-free.”

He glanced at it. “Ma’am, two earbuds are illegal. You can only have one earbud for receiving calls.”

I knew I was angering him but hey, I wasn’t exactly having the time of MY life, either. “But this is what comes with the phone. They have two. Are you saying that I can drive with the earbuds if I only have ONE in my ear?”

If he could have slugged me, I don’t doubt he would have thought about it.

“Ma’am, are you aware that people can download music onto those iPhones and listen to it?”

“I’m familiar.”

“Were you listening to music when I pulled you over?”


“So you were using it as an iPod.”

“I was using it as an iPod as I waited for a phone call. So you’re saying that I can just wear one earbud, then, if I’m not listening to music?”

He just grunted.

I wasn’t done.

“So, if I get pulled over again and I’m only wearing one earbud so I can get calls, would I be believed that I really only HAD one earbud in? I mean, I will do that from now on but I don’t want to get pulled over again if someone thinks I’m breaking the law. I don’t want to break the law, Officer.”

“It’s Virginia law, ma’am, to only be able to wear one earpiece for receiving calls. Yes, you can wear one earbud,” he conceded.

“Great! Do you happen to know what Maryland’s law is about that? Because I wear both earbuds there when I use the phone and I’ve never run into any trouble. I don’t want to be breaking the law there, either.”

I think he was about to hand me a ticket, but because he did not KNOW the answer to my dutiful-citizen question, he said, “I suggest you go onto the Internet and find that out, ma’am. I can only speak about Virginia law.”

He gave me my license back, looked at my radio approvingly, and saw that my Yankee Candle thingie had been removed and thanked me for that, and I was on my way.

I guess I should read up on state law before I travel. I mean, wow, am I the only iPhone owner to be considered a menace because I was using the device AS APPLE INTENDED?

Now, I know I was a pain in the ass. I also know I was resisting a police officer … twice … by continuing to pull away from him. Meanwhile there were people being murdered over in Del-Ray, but the iPhone Earbud Felon was stopped dead in her tracks. The streets of Old Town Alexandria are safe again!

3 Responses to Brains-free D.C.

  1. nic :

    It’s illegal to have earphones in both ears in Maryland, too.

  2. Lachlan :

    It makes sense, really. You can’t hear nearly as well. I get why they made it law.

    Still, he was a major douchenozzle.

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