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Traffic stops yield Starbucks gift cards

Jeremy Simon

Imagine you’re headed to work, possibly running a few minutes late but still maintaining a safe speed. You look in your rearview mirror, only to see a police car behind you with the officer motioning you to pull over. Heart suddenly beating faster, you direct your car to the side of the road and come to a stop. Not another ticket, you think to yourself. You slowly pull your registration from the glove box and license from your wallet, but your mind is racing, searching for a possible reason for the traffic stop. Did you forget to signal? Run a light? Accidentally pass a bus as it was picking up school kids?

Could be your motoring was just fine. If you are driving in Rancho Cordova, Calif., the police may have pulled you over for being a good driver.

The Associated Press reports (Hat tip: Jalopnik) police in that Sacramento suburb are giving drivers a holiday season surprise — stopping people for good driving and then rewarding them with $5 Starbucks gift cards.

The AP quoted police Sgt. Tim Curran as saying this initiative aims to “promote the holiday spirit and enhance goodwill between the traffic unit and the motoring public.”

While I can’t speak for any other drivers, I’d prefer not to get stopped by the police at all, even if it is to reward me with some Starbucks.

Apparently, local businesses raised a good amount of money to buy the gift cards, meaning the police will be “pulling over a lot of people,” according to Sgt. Curran. It was my understanding that it usually worked the other way around: additional traffic stops are used as a way to make money.

Reckless drivers, don’t feel left out. Lawbreakers may still be able earn a free cup of coffee if the plastic they use to bail themselves out of jail is a Starbucks Card Duetto Visa.

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  • Michael B. Rubin

    Interesting post, Jeremy. Driving safely has always been a smart financial strategy (fewer tickets = less fines, fewer points = lower auto insurance premiums.) Although an extra $5 won’t hurt, I’d never be THAT good of a driver.