Baltimore Crime Beat: State trooper tickets up a storm ... - Baltimore, Maryland crime news, blogs and video -

State Trooper Tickets Up A Storm ...
December 2, 2009

The holidays bring a flood of reminders from police that they're out in force to catch speeders and remove drunken drivers from our roads. I spent Tuesday evening and night with Cpl. Jeff Kirschner (left) of the Maryland State Police Golden Ring barracks.

He and his fellow troopers cover 200-plus miles of highway, including a good chunk of the Baltimore Beltway, I-83 from the city line to the Pennsylvania border, I-795 to Route 140, and a portion of I-70 and I-95.

I began to appreciate the distances involved when he had stopped a car for speeding on the Beltway near York Road and had to turn around and speed to an accident at Cove Road, near Essex. It took 20 him minutes weaving through rush-hour traffic and by the time he arrived, Baltimore County police had nearly completed the investigation.

I'll be writing more on this in Thursday's column. Many of the people pulled over for speeding or tailgating had been distracted by using their cell phones. One man was so close to the bumper of the car in front of him he had to repeatedly slam on the brakes while going 60 on the Beltway. He told Kirschner that the driver in front was talking on his phone and "he just couldn't take it anymore." So he tailgated.

At another point, the trooper noted, "She's going 84 and talking on her phone." Then, at an accident on a ramp leading off northbound I-95 to the Beltway (the new interchange that was just built) a motorist who slammed into the back of another car, causing a mess that shut down two lanes and backed up traffic for miles, said he was trying to find the "ignore" button on his cell phone because he knew answering an incoming call would be too dangerous while driving.

The rush-hour brought calls for accidents; the post-rush hour period appeared to be easy pickings for speeders. It's amazing what these troopers see. Kirschner noticed a dirty license plate on one car and suspected it was due to bad emissions. He was right; the driver's license had been revoked for that very reason, and the man got a ticket and was ordered off the road.

The trooper noted that northbound 83 leaving the city is one of the best spots to catch drunk drivers and that southbound 83 leaving Pennsylvania is the best spot to catch speeders. He once clocked someone doing 138 mph. Most of the people he pulled over were exceeding 80 mph (under 85, it's 2 points and $160 fine; 85 and above it climbes to 5 points and a $290 fine). At left, Kirschner inputs data into his in-car computer, which allows him to scan licenses and registrations and print tickets on the spot).

Kirschner, who is 33 and has been a trooper for eight years, did note that people tend to be worse drivers over the holidays. "Everyone is trying to get home or get shopping," he said, which leads to crowded roads and more aggravation. For him, traffic jams are "just part of every day," and I have to admit that sitting in backups is easier when you're not trying to get anyplace specific.

The last stop was a good gone -- a Mazarati speeding at 80 mph and over and stopped on the southbound JFX near Ruxton Road. The driver, in his 40s, and his passenger, a young woman in her 20s, were dressed for a night on the town. The driver of the $100,000 car told the trooper he didn't care how many tickets he wrote, he could pay, and while he spent his time waiting for Kirschner to finish the paperwork by making out with his girlfriend.

But then Kirschner's in-car computer started to beep -- an alert calling attention to an open arrest warrant for the driver, charging him out of Howard County with two counts of prostitution and two counts of attempted prostitution. Kirschner called for back-up and put the driver in handcuffs, putting the woman in tears (and on the phone to her mother) and putting an end to their night out. Instead of a concert, the driver ended up at the Golden Ring barracks in cuffs.