Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Citizen’s arrayest!

In one of my favorite episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” Gomer is ticketed by the always overzealous Mayberry Sheriff’s Deputy Barney Fife.

Upset about it, Gomer follows Barney around, waiting for him to break the law.

Inevitably, the end of the show includes Gomer chasing Barney’s patrol car after an illegal U-turn, with Gomer shouting “Citizen’s arrest!” as only Gomer could.

Fortunately, a trucker used a handy smartphone this week to document a very interesting encounter in California. The clip illustrates the disconnect between enforcement against trucks and enforcement of RVs, cars and especially the long arm of the law.

This week, Bernard Downes was ticketed by a uniformed enforcement officer of the California Air Resources Board.

Downes had just started his truck up at a fast food restaurant near the idling enforcement hotbed of Ontario, CA. After a few hours off, his air tanks were empty so he wanted full pressure before leaving.

The next thing Bernard knew, what appeared to be a uniformed police officer knocked on the truck window, and the officer told him he’d been violating the state’s five-minute idling restriction.

After taking Bernard’s truck information and CDL, the officer retired back to his state-owned vehicle (a Lone Sheriff hue of white, naturally), and filled out a citation. With the windows up and air conditioning blasting, Bernard said the officer was idling his car the entire time.

Downes is a company driver originally from Australia who now lives in Amarillo, TX. I’ll let the video do the talking.

Downes was issued a $300 ticket for idling for nine minutes.

“How did he feel he has the right to break his own damn law?” Downes told me Wednesday. “He was strutting around like he was Rambo. He said, ‘How are you going to talk to me?’”

Ironically, his company truck even features an APU.

“I was just idling to get some air in my truck,” he said.

Bernard is considering challenging the citation in court.

“I’m just trying to make the point that this is a double standard you’ve got going on here,” Bernard said. “You have this car, emitting carbons in the air, and writing tickets to somebody who allegedly broke the law by four minutes. If you’re really serious about pollution, no vehicle should be idling and emitting carbon into the air – including CARB officer vehicles.”