LETTER: Elderly Women At Risk When Driving At Night – From The Police

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Elderly women are at risk when driving at night – from Police.

Many older women must realize personal risks when stopped by police. Why? We are not schooled in avoiding “suspicious” behavior.

Did you know that the following personal idiosyncrasies can and are labeled drug behaviors:

  • Fast speech (when nervous)
  • Flushing ( when humiliated)
  • Red eyes (if they provoke tears)
  • Having ANY unmarked medication on your person or in your car, (aspirin, Zantac, tylenol, etc.)?
  • Misinterpreting questions (hard of hearing)
  • And finally being too nervous to keep up with their fast, curt directions

An experience involving using brights after turning from a side street to HWY 99 ended in a 4-hour interrogation. Handcuffed and driven by a lone man for a long distance in the dark, left a terrified, violated, helpless (handcuffed) woman. Police report stated “polite and cooperative” responses. All charges were dropped. Except a $200.00 bill for having the car towed.

Unable to sleep, refusal to drive at night and panic around police cars has lingered since the event August 23. It will not resolve. Why?

How will you respond when you now know their report will exaggerate your every word, gesture and mistake? Many mistakes were made in naive belief that the police were experienced enough to differentiate simple error from drug-induced responses. How would I respond again if stopped – when panic is felt just recalling the incident? Think about this and talk to all who may offer you some police savvy advice for avoiding this same experience.

Any thoughts for the rest of women at risk?

– Ruth Maloney

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17 Responses to “LETTER: Elderly Women At Risk When Driving At Night – From The Police”
  1. Marlow says:

    Sorry about your experience. You must have been scared.

    • lynn says:

      Thank you for your support. Please alert any elderly, women you know.

    • Gary Kennedy says:

      I believe that the local Police are more motivated to collect revenue during these tough economic times instead of performing their prime objective of preserving public safety and consideration to citizenry in a particular age groups. Clearly this officer(s) need behavioral training.

  2. Nicholas says:

    That’s horrible. Did you get a badge number?

  3. lynn says:

    Yes, I talked with his supervisor. She covered his back!

  4. Patrick Maloney says:

    Ruth Lynn is my sister. I accompanied my sister to the Kent police dept. to talk with the supervisor of the arresting officer. Ruth Lynn indeed received no satisfaction from the supervisor who I considered rude to me. It is a serious statement about police ability to understand the difference between an ill older lady and a drug user. They did not do a drug test except for alcohol, which registered zero.
    Patrick Maloney

  5. abigail simmonds says:

    This is very sobering. I will not feel very protected when a police vehicle is around. I drive slowly at night because the bright lights bother my eyes. Could I be stopped for this too? I feel very sorry for you. And for others out there who have not yet come forward.

    • Ruth Maloney says:


      Thank you for your support. As a matter of record, my speed also was too slow for them. I turned the corner and when immediate flashing lights were seen, I thought at first that they were trying to get around me. Who would go fast under those circumstances? We were in a dangerous neighborhood.

      Clocked at 30 mph in a 45 zone places any of us who are driving slowly, regardless of the reason and lack of traffic to be stopped. Carla is right. You can’t know what will compound their reasoning for being stopped – in addition to brights.

      So if you are driving slowly at night, they can stop you. Be careful, especially in Kent.

      By the way I would have turned off the brights, when on Hwy 99. But they stopped me too soon. And feeling poorly, my thinking was slowed.


  6. Rob says:

    Ruth- you should talk to a lawyer. Police are not to act like stormtroopers. It is just wrong. And they seem to in too many cases. I understand they have a high stress dangerous jon, but then so do I. I am so sorry for your experience,

    • Ruth Maloney says:


      Thank you for the support. An attorney would require more energy than my health currently allows. Or you can be certain an attorney would have been consulted. This is discrimination of elderly women.
      I repeatedly asked the police officer for rolaids. They ignored the request, which resulted in esophageal irritation for days later.

  7. Rob says:

    Rgar should read high stress dangerous JOB. See if I wasn’t so stresses I could type correctly

  8. carla says:

    This is yet another reason to NOT trust the police or any authorities for that matter!

    Tips when stopped by the police for ANY reason:

    – do not argue, ask questions or offer ANY information about your person.
    – Use only enough speech necessary to respond to questions “yes” or “no” is enough
    – be on alert that they are NOT there to protect or serve you, they are doing their job and trying to meet quotas
    – Be aware that they are human and feel super- human with power. Any opportunity to charge, beat or arrest someone is only seconds away.
    – A civilian’s word means little vs that of a police officer
    -Get names, badge number and lodge complaints if only for futile documentation as in this case
    – Do NOT give them ANY reason to think you are being evasive.
    – Do not talk to them if they arrest you…invoke you right to representation ASAP
    – try to notice any discriminatory behavior based on age/race/gender or creed
    – Lastly, try to avoid the police at all cost.

    • Ruth Maloney says:

      Your comments are very helpful to me & relevant for women who drive at night. I was coming home from a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting.
      They are a serious organization dedicated to history, & community activities which support our schools & Veterans. I left a bit early, not feeling well. Drugs and alcohol were simply not an issue. Heart burn, nausea and chest pain was taking a toll.
      The police could not be told about the chest pain. Just imagine going to a local emergency room in handcuffs!
      The women at DAR were astounded by the treatment and upset with police behavior.


  9. Kathie says:

    I heard this story from Lynn first hand and was appalled! The other thing I would tell anyone, especially an older person, DO NOT get out of the car with only one cop there. Tell him you’ll wait for a second one to show up and this after checking his ID. Still wait.
    In Spokane a guy was pulling women over, posed as a cop, and raping them. Even had lights on his car. So STAY IN YOUR CAR untill there’s more than one.
    And remember, no matter what happens, the cops are always right.. You can be beaten, hurt, arrested, the list goes on but they will always win in the end.

  10. Carol says:

    I too attended the meeting with Ruth. There was no apology nor mention of anger management updates for the officer/s involved. Her husband didn’t know where she was as they wouldn’t let her use her cell phone until 1:00 a.m. All the Daughters, who didn’t know this happened, were asleep in their own beds by then. Ruth should not have to pay someone to publicize this current problem. Where is the volunteer to take this on?. I’d like to see the ACLU or someone, Brodeur, in the Seattle TIMES grab this issue. Women go to evening meetings, with anxiety, as they hear about situations like this. Women need to win this one! How? Publicize this happened! Do we have to get out of our car? Can we use our cell phone to call home first without rolling down the window? I feel more safe inside MY car.

  11. lynn says:

    Thank you so much kathy & Carol. I never stop trying. This will be pursued and publicized as health & time permit. You are right. This is a larger issue for all, especially the ill who may be safe but in pain, nauseated, and miserable while driving.

  12. Coverofnight says:

    With 16 comments, I find it interesting that no cops have come forward to apologize for the officer’s behavior or offer up that “we’re not all like that”. I agree with everyone’s assessment of how to act when stopped by a cop. I don’t trust them either and have to educate my family and friends about proper procedures when stopped. What a sad state of affairs when these power-hungry individuals can dominate and control the lives of hard-working individuals whose tax dollars support them, their unions and benefits! If I’m wrong, let some cop come forward and set the record straight…otherwise, to all that have commented here – I’m with ya on this one!

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