On a recent trip to Houston, I innocently violated the speed limit by 6 mph. From San Antonio to Houston, I take Interstate 10, and traffic moves at a good clip. The upper limit is 75 mph, and at some point, my foot pressed a bit too hard on the accelerator and, unfortunately, a Texas highway patrolman was vigilant when I made it over the hill.

Here is the conversation with the officer after I pulled over to the shoulder:

OFFICER: Sir, I pulled you over because you were going 81 in a 75.

ME: I was driving the speed limit for most of this drive because I had it on cruise control, but I guess I lost track of how fast I was going.

OFFICER: Will you please step out of the car?

ME: Sure. I can do that.

[It was a chilly morning, so getting out of the car was no fun, but I didn’t have much of a choice.]

OFFICER: Stand right here, and let me process your driver’s license and insurance information.

ME: Okay.

[During my 5-minute wait, I hoped we would have a chance to discuss the matter before he issued the speeding citation. Just in case, though, I was thinking of the defensive driving option.]

OFFICER: Mr. Flores, what do you do for a living?

ME: I’m a professor.

OFFICER: What do you teach?

ME: I teach business and IT courses.

OFFICER: I will need to issue you a citation for speeding.

ME: Officer, is it possible for you to cut me some slack? If you look at my record, you’ll notice that I have zero moving violations. The fact is that I generally do a good job of obeying the traffic signs.

[He pondered my request for a bit.]

OFFICER: Do your sunglasses have a prescription?

ME: Yes. Of course!

OFFICER: I will need to issue you a citation for violating the speed limit. I will be right back.

[The highway patrolman walked to his car, and returned in a few minutes.]

OFFICER: You know it’s important that you drive the speed limit out here. If an animal jumps out in front of you, you won’t have time to slow down.

ME: I understand. I will do my best in the future to heed that advice.

OFFICER: Mr. Flores, I need your signature right here. I am going to give you a warning this time, but know that obeying the speed limit is important for many reasons.

ME: Wow! I thought you said that I would get a citation.

OFFICER: Yeah. I changed my mind. Have a good day.

Before learning that I would get a warning, I was in no mood for him to lecture about the speeding. He was, after all, going to cite me. I kept my cool, and that helped. I remember thinking about the paperwork that was ahead of me, and wasn’t too happy about that.

The rest of my trip to Houston was uneventful, and largely because I kept to the speed limit.