Riding out with CHP Oakland

Carpool violators, meter lights, the strangest call and the most common excuse: Berkeleyside asked the CHP your questions.

  1. It didn't take long for questions from readers to start coming in. And Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, spokesman for the Oakland-area California Highway Patrol office, was happy to field them. He's active on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. As he answers questions, Wilkenfeld is on the lookout for violations on the highway: people in the carpool lane without enough passengers in the car, drivers on their cell phones, speeding and other issues. When he sees vehicles that have problems, such as a taillight that's out or tinted taillights (not legal), he'll run the license plate to see if anything significant comes up.
  3. Readers came up with a lot of questions but the most common subject area was carpool violation. Wilkenfeld said there's not much other motorists can do about the problem. The CHP would rather have drivers report moving violations such as speeding and possible DUI, he said. One reason for that is that, if the officer doesn't see the violation firsthand, prosecution can be tough.
  4. Wilkenfeld said his biggest pet peeve is when people lie to him or try to make up excuses for violations. And, for many of the drivers who break the rules, he said it's not uncommon to find a history of violations, whether it's expired paperwork or a suspended license, or something more serious. He said, sometimes, he has pulled someone over for a carpool violation in the afternoon to find they had just gotten one that same morning. Pulling over a driver who has a perfect record is rare, he said.
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