The Secret Policeman's Other Database
June 17, 2008 10:20 AM   Subscribe

(The Secret Policeman's Other Database) - Do the police ever keep a database of traffic warnings they've given out?

So if you rack up a bunch, then at the next traffic stop, they look you up, see that you haven't learned your lesson, and whip out the taser! Or conversely, if you're in a jurisdiction that does traffic stops "on spec" shall we say, the officer looks you up in the database and finds a note saying you're really boring and to go find someone else to stop.

I'm sure this varies by jurisdiction, and will eventually become commonplace if it's not already, but - what do people know about this currently?
posted by coffeefilter to Law & Government (9 answers total)
I have no facts per se, but I work with police all day long. The paperwork is immense, so I wouldn't be suprised if they didn't write these up just to reduce their workload.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:36 AM on June 17, 2008

A friend just told me she got a ticket for a busted taillight. She had gotten stopped before and given a warning, and this time the cop said he had to ticket her since she hadn't gotten it fixed. Her story implied that the cop knew about the previous warning, but she isn't the best reporter, so this is a weak anecdote.
posted by OmieWise at 10:48 AM on June 17, 2008

not a traffic cop, but when i was pulled over for speeding by a forest preserve ranger, he brought up an incident involving alcohol where i received a warning that was 15 years old.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 10:53 AM on June 17, 2008

In Massachusetts, I have gotten 2 written warnings for burned-out headlights or absent inspection stickers. These warnings are written out of the same books that tickets are. The only thing different is a checkbox, which means that the warning has been copied and can be entered into a computer later.

Any time I have ever been pulled over with just a warning, there has always been the few minutes when the officer/trooper is looking at your license and registration and has the opportunity to either type that info into the in-car laptop or talk to someone back at the office, so the opporunities are ample.
posted by mkb at 11:15 AM on June 17, 2008

I have received both verbal and written warnings. The written warning was written up like a real ticket, with the police officer keeping a copy and giving me a carbon copy. The verbal was "watch your speed, fella."

I suspect that the written warnings go into a database just like tickets do, while the verbal ones are never written up and essentially do not exist once you pull back into the stream of traffic.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:17 AM on June 17, 2008

It's my understanding that written warnings are kept in the database just like tickets. (Verbal warnings, not so much.)
posted by desuetude at 11:53 AM on June 17, 2008

Yes they do! I was riding home with a cop one night (no I wasn't in trouble) and we had some fun pulling up the license plate numbers of people driving ahead of us on his little in-car laptop database. Everything was in there, down to parking violations and warnings about broken tail lights!

I felt like such a voyeur. :)
posted by GardenGal at 5:49 PM on June 17, 2008

I am not a cop, but I do work in law enforcement. Basically in law enforcement you learn to file things like warnings away in your brain. Mostly, a warning is just what it is, a warning, but if you see the person (or car I suppose) again, or you see the name associated with something else they move on up to the front of your memory banks (figuratively, not literally). Being memorable is not a good thing. My colleagues come to me all the time and ask "ever heard of XYZ?" If I tell them, "never heard of it/him/her," we file it away (both of us), if I say yes, that means we may already be on to something.

If the same cop pulls you over again, he or she is probably going to remember you and give you a ticket, which certainly goes on your record for other cops to see. Some jurisdictions do record warnings, so these too may be in the next guy's mind. Traffic stops are not going to warrant "get out the taser" unless we're talking about real reckless stuff, but that's not going to earn you a warning, is it?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:33 AM on June 18, 2008

Thanks, all. So in general it looks like written-probably; verbal-maybe. Scary!
posted by coffeefilter at 3:17 PM on June 19, 2008

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