We all have those friends with certain careers that can hook us up.
Maybe you have a friend that works at Chick-Fil-A and you score free chocolate shakes when you walk in.
Or it’s possible you started choking on a fish bone at dinner and your doctor friend jumped up and performed the Heimlich Maneuver on you.
Photographer friend? Maybe she gives you a family photoshoot for your birthday.
Or maybe, just maybe, you know a highway patrol trooper. You can throw questions at him without feeling like you did something wrong.
Meet Trooper Ben on Twitter.
Trooper Ben works for the Kansas Highway Patrol. The man has 28,000 followers on Twitter – although, I would call them more his friends. He’ll answer your questions with humor but he also keeps in mind he doesn’t want you to die either. If he has time, he’ll tweet Q&As from his followers.
I found Trooper Ben’s twitter handle from Eric Stonestreet.
Yes, this Eric Stonestreet. The K-State family is a close one.
It doesn’t really matter how I met Trooper Ben. We’re friends now even though I’ve never met him in real life. And hopefully, I never meet him because I’m a safe driver.
Ok, like one speeding ticket.
I’ve gotten out of two speeding tickets with warnings.
Oh, and then there was that one time I got a ticket for not moving over a lane while a South Dakota trooper pulled over another car on the highway. Yes, I broke the law and I wasn’t safe. My ticket was fair. I should have moved over a lane. But that wasn’t my question for Trooper Ben.
My question for Trooper Ben:
If you want the long version of this story, click here.
In short – I was pulled over for not moving over a lane. The South Dakota trooper asked me to leave my car, walk along the side of the highway, and sit in his car while he chatted and wrote me a ticket. This happened in the middle of the afternoon. My husband and two daughters were in the car. It was clear we were on a family road trip.
Trooper Ben was kind enough to give me a call today and explain the trooper’s possible reasonings.
I did not record our conversation for direct quotes but I did take notes.
Trooper Ben asks drivers to sit in his car for various reasons, although it is rare.
If he smells alcohol, he has been known to ask the driver to sit in his car. Using his car as a “neutral scent” zone, he can smell possible alcohol on the driver’s breath. My breath smelled like coffee, cream, sugar, and nachos cheese Doritos.
Another reason – smuggling drugs. By questioning a person away from the “comfort zone” of their own car, he can gather more information from the driver to make sure stories add up – Who is in the car with you? What are the kids’ names? Where are you going? Believe it or not, people have been known to smuggle drugs with kids in the car. The particular car I was driving at the time was a rental and it had Florida plates. I gave the South Dakota trooper my Kansas driver’s license.
I asked Trooper Ben the number one answer I’ve heard when I tell this story – was it possible the trooper just wanted to hit on me away from my husband? Trooper Ben said he hopes that’s not the case. Looking back, I don’t feel like this particular trooper was hitting on me but I do remember being scared that he might. I felt vulnerable away from my husband.
My biggest question for Trooper Ben – did I have the right to refuse to get into the trooper’s vehicle if I wasn’t under arrest? Trooper Ben said it wouldn’t be an unreasonable request if I feared for my safety. Another option Trooper Ben suggested is to ask if I could record the conversation via video or voice.
In the end, everyone was safe. I still got a ticket. It was possible the South Dakota trooper thought I was smuggling drugs. But I can’t interview that trooper to ask him why.
I can only interview Trooper Ben.
Don’t forget to move over a lane when you see another car pulled over.
And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”