July 24, 2004
Commissioner D.O. Helmick
California Highway Patrol
P.O. Box 942898
Sacramento, CA 94298-0001
Re: CHP Officer ID 15877 , CHP Summons # 25939 TU - Dated 7-24-04
On July 24, 2004 at 10:40 am, it was 85 degrees, the weather was clear and the winds were calm. While traveling northbound on SR 79 at Mesa Grande from Santa Ysabel, San Diego Country I drove past a group of three CHP cruisers at 45 mph, one officer noticed my new motorcycle did not have a license plate. The motorcycle had been purchased new July 5, 2004 and no plate has been received from DMV. The CHP cruiser came up behind me, sounded his siren and instructed me to turn left on Mesa Grande and stop. I complied with the officer’s directions immediately. I turned the motor off, dismounted the bike, removed my gloves and helmet and stood at the bike while the officer exited his cruiser. As he approached me he said, “I stopped you because you don’t have a license plate.”. I relied, "Yes Sir, it's brand new – don’t have one yet." He then asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance. All three documents were produced and handed to the officer. I then removed the personal hearing protector from my right ear. The office then stated, “It’s against the law to wear ear plugs.” I said, “Yes Sir, however these are personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels.” He replied: “They are still against the law.” I replied, “Fine Sir, would you please show me the vehicle code after you have written my ticket.” He said yes.
When the office produced a written copy of the vehicle code 27400, I pointed out 27400 states: "A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering or earplugs in, both ears. This prohibition does not apply to any of the following:
Paragraph (d): A person wearing personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels. The plugs or molds shall be designed in a manner so as to not inhibit the wearer's ability to hear a siren or horn from an emergency vehicle or a horn from another motor vehicle.
His reply was: “The motorcycle is stock – you don’t need them”. “Yes Sir that's true”, I replied, “I wear them to protect my hearing from wind noise inside the helmet.” I said. He replied, “The helmet is insulated you can’t hear anything, please sign here.” I signed the ticket, and said: ”Fine, I’ll see you in court”. As he walked away looking at the motorcycle he said: “There is no license plate bracket” and paused. I said: “Sir it’s on the rear fender.”
I am a taxpaying citizen and comply with the law. I believe this officer was in plain and simple terms harassing me. Other motorcyclists in the area have also complained about this same officer’s harassment. If that is not the case, then perhaps this officer’s lack of knowledge of the law and proper equipment used to ride a motorcycle should preclude him from being a trusted public servant. Because of this officer’s unprofessional behavior or lack of knowledge, I am now forced to take time away from my professional career to seek justice, it’s not right.
John H. Dwulet
CC: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building - Sacramento, CA 95814