If there’s an acceptable excuse for speeding, a woman on the verge of giving birth might qualify.
But a police officer in Howell, New Jersey, didn’t think so when he pulled over a driver last November for driving 78 miles per hour in a 50-mph zone, the Asbury Park Press reported.
The man, who was anonymous at the time, told the Lakewood Scoop that he started out driving as “regular speed” that night but then sped up when his wife, who was in labor, told him she felt she was getting closer to giving birth. That’s when he “became quite frantic” and picked up speed, without realizing he was over the speed limit, he told the publication.
The driver, identified in court documents as Abraham Steinfeld, was then stopped by a Howell officer, the Lakewood Scoop reported. Steinfeld claimed he tried to explain the severity of the situation, but the officer cut him off and just told him to “sit tight,” he told the publication.
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In body camera footage of the traffic stop, Steinfeld is heard saying “my wife’s in advanced labor,” as the cop approaches the minivan, the Asbury Park Press said. The officer asked for Steinfeld’s driver’s license and vehicle registration and insurance, the newspaper said.
“He left me stranded close to 15 minutes while my wife was moaning away,” Steinfeld told the Lakewood Scoop.
The officer told Steinfeld he was doing “almost 80 mph,” according to police, NJ.com reported. They say the cop asked the couple if they’d like an ambulance and the couple responded by asking for a police escort. NJ.com said.
“No, we don’t do that,” the officer said. “That’s what ambulances are for. That’s why you’re not supposed to be driving that fast,” he said, according to police.
The officer then gave Steinfeld a ticket, NJ.com said, and asked him a few more times if he wanted an ambulance.
Though Steinfeld told the Lakewood Scoop he waited for about 15 minutes, police Chief Andrew Kudrick Jr. said the traffic stop by Patrolman Anthony Marotta lasted a little over nine minutes, Patch reported.
The couple’s baby was born 20 minutes after the officer let them go, NJ.com reported.
A lawyer for Steinfeld told the Asbury Park Press on Friday that Steinfeld, with his wife and now 4-month-old child in attendance, pleaded guilty this month to a less severe traffic violation and paid a $56 fine and $36 in court fees.
“The judge asked how the baby was doing,” Ian Goldman said. “The judge was very endearing, because she knows this was bigger than a ticket.”
Police have defended Marotta’s decision to ticket Steinfeld, saying he acted “appropriately,” Patch reported.
“Any suggestion that the officer’s conduct was improper, unprofessional or inhumane simply contradicts the video evidence,” Kudrick said.
Many commenters on the Asbury Park Press’s Facebook page took the officers’ side, saying a woman in labor is not an excuse for reckless driving. But some said the officer could have shown more empathy.