Written warning puts driver on notice to fix flaws

I was stopped by an Oregon State Police trooper last week for failing to obey a yellow signal and because I had no current registration sticker on my vehicle. After I showed the officer my new tags and explained that my front plate had been ruined, and that I was waiting to get new ones, he very kindly let me off with a written warning. I was so grateful he didn't write me a ticket, I failed to ask him what it means to have a written warning. He told me there was no fine or fee and that it wouldn't go on my driving record. So what does it do? And where does it go?

— Lynne S., Medford

Wow. It's been a long time since anyone here at the Since You Asked School of Bad Driving skated on a potential ticket. Or two. Even a fix-it ticket. That trooper must have been feeling particularly benevolent that day. Or you were being particularly charming, Lynne. Perhaps a combination of both?

In any case, we are happy to inform you that the information on both your yellow-light misadventure and your unstuck stickers resides only in the database of OSP, according to Sgt. Julie Wilcox.

"It's in our database, where it will stay for quite a while," Wilcox said.

Wilcox assured us that, as the officer explained, this information will not count against you. And it will not be shared with other police agencies, insurance agencies or with the state's traffic courts.

"It's a get-out-of-jail free card, almost," Wilcox said.

She said the agency is more inclined to give oral rather than written warnings, if a warning is warranted. But sometimes a written warning is issued, as it can serve as a reminder to the person that the issue must be addressed, Wilcox said.

Any future failing in this area most likely would result in a ticket, Wilcox said, as your name would pop up in the agency's database with the details attached.

In short, Lynne, if you are pulled over again by an OSP trooper, you had better have fully obeyed the right of way and have a current registration sticker on your shiny new plates. Even benevolence and charm have their limits.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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