How Do You Plead..?


Maybe it’s just my love of learning… or my passion for teaching.

Perhaps, it’s my background in developing powerful teams… or the fact that I’ve had over fourteen thousand employees. Then again, it could simply be the entrepreneur in me… or the fact that we spent twenty-one years home-schooling…

But I just seem to find a seed of knowledge, or an educational opportunity, in virtually every situation.

So it was that last week, I was able to give my daughter a lesson on proper conduct, character, and integrity… while at the same time receiving a ticket for speeding in Illinois.

Yes, that’s right.

I made a $75 contribution to the tax base in Knox County… but at least I have the pleasure of knowing it won’t end up in the Blago Re-election Fund!


There were literally two cars on that section of the road… mine was the one that was going too fast; hers was the one with the radar gun. I’ve always told anyone that would listen that I’ve never worried about being stopped, ’cause I’ve deserved it each time.

Each time?

Yeah… unfortunately more than once. And I never worried about the ticket either, because I deserved that too… and freely admitted it.

But here’s the funny thing. When you show respect, and admit you’re wrong… it often has an amazing effect on the other party… in this case, the State Trooper. In fact, she was incredibly friendly even as she had me sign the guilty plea!

C’est la vie.


After driving away, I thought about all that transpired.

Let’s see… I anticipated her turning on her lights and pulled over right away. I had my license out, my hands where she could see them, and I answered all her questions straight up.

Did I know why she pulled me over? “Yes, officer”, I told her… “I was speeding… there’s no excuse.”

Did I know how fast I was going? “Yes… sixty-seven in a fifty-five.”

Didn’t I think that was a little fast? “Absolutely, Ma’am… it was a dumb thing to do… I was totally in the wrong.”

The weird thing was I had actually been driving the previous thirty miles with my cruise control set right at the speed limit. Yet, somehow coming down a small grade… listening to music, and engaged in conversation… my foot found its way to the accelerator.


It was literally the only quarter mile stretch on the entire trip that I had exceeded the limit. But of course, I didn’t tell her that… I didn’t want to sound like the last 846 people she’s stopped.


As we continued our journey, I stated that I really was surprised to receive the citation.

After all, I had done everything I could to be polite and respectful. I completely admitted my guilt… because, well… I was guilty! And I apologized for my actions.

“I really don’t know what else I could have done to avoid a ticket,” I told my daughter.

“Well, Dad… it’s just my opinion, but maybe driving a bit slower would have helped.”

Yes… yes, indeed.



Character and integrity always matter… regardless of whether we get what we want.

Sometimes the most obvious solution is the one we don’t see.

If we teach our children well… someday they’ll teach us.


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6 thoughts on “How Do You Plead..?

  1. Hey Rich,

    Saw your profile on Twitter, my friend. You and the rest of the heroes are what makes our country great. I have no doubt about the integrity and character of you and your brothers. Thank you.


  2. A well written article!
    Integrity is what we do when no one is watching, however when we have kids someone is always watching! So we should think about how we would want them to act in the same situation.

    As a former officer I will say that you did about all you could have done. From me you would have almost certainly received a warning. There are times and circumstances where there is nothing that can change the outcome for various reasons. This was likely one of those. As you may, or may not, know many people will lie to an officer. So some officers take the approach, as a defense of sorts, that they have decided the outcome prior to speaking to you. With that approach you may be able to make the situation worse, but probably not any better. I personally didn’t care for that approach, though I understand it.
    You obviously get it, but for your readers that may not I offer a tip. You can more easily talk yourself into a ticket than out of one. If you are rude you will almost certainly receive a ticket, though if you are being rude you probably already believed that you were getting one. That may not have been the plan. I personally gave more warnings than citations, but I was not a trooper. They seem to have more pressure to “prove their worth” through citations. That is the big reason I would never be a trooper, just not my style.

  3. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments. And of course, your definition of integrity is right on! Thanks for your public service!

    Have a wonderful day,


  4. It does seem to happen that the moment you do something wrong is the moment somebody who can get you in trouble shows up. “I only just started doing something wrong!” is no excuse. :)

    Meghan Lee

  5. Yes, and the best part, Meghan, is that after we were all done and I had my ticket and pulled back onto the highway, I only had to wait 7 minutes for my birthday :)

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