Zachary Berry
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Oh Deer! Massachusetts Man Blames Speeding Ticket on Nearby Deer

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Is this a classic case of a lame excuse for speeding, or is there a more bizarre explanation a-hoof?

Why did the deer cross the road? To return to the scene of the crime! Photo: Dwight Burdette

Why did the deer cross the road? To return to the scene of the crime!
Photo: Dwight Burdette

At one point or another, most of us have made the conscious decision to embrace the criminal lifestyle and break the speed limit. For many, this results in a nice, expensive speeding ticket. Now there are plenty of classic excuses that people use for speeding. “I need to get to the hospital right away.” “My car’s brakes have been acting funny, and I’m on my way to get them fixed.” “It wasn’t me. It was the deer!”

Alright, so maybe that last one isn’t too common. However, that’s the story that Dennis Sayers of Haverhill, Massachusetts went with to get out of a speeding ticket. Sayers blamed a nearby deer for his 40 mph speeding ticket, suggesting that it was the animal who was speeding, not him. It is certainly ridiculous to try and pin your speeding on Bambi when you get caught with that deer-in-the-headlights look. However, it might not actually be an impossible claim.

The face of a hardened criminal Photo: Walt Disney Studios

The face of a hardened criminal? 
Photo: Walt Disney Studios

Last November, Sayers was pulled over by Officer Royster Johnson after the police officer’s radar device showed that Sayers was going more than 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. Officer Johnson proceeded to charge him with speeding and give him a ticket of $105. However, Sayers obviously believed that mysterious circumstances were afoot, or rather a-hoof, that night, and he proceeded to appeal the decision.

During the appeal hearing last week, Sayers asked Officer Johnson if he was “100 percent” sure that he didn’t accidentally capture the speed of a nearby deer with his radar device. The presiding Judge Peter Doyle asked Sayers a question of his own: “You’re not contending the radar picked up the deer?”

Sayers proceeded to reply that anything was possible.

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However, the “buck” stopped there, as Judge Doyle ruled in favor of the West Newbury Police and upheld the $105 fine. West Newbury Police Chief Art Reed said that, “In the 30-plus years of me being a police chief, I have never heard anyone use that defense and expect it to succeed.”

But could a deer have actually landed Sayers with an unwarranted speeding ticket? It’s highly unlikely, as I am sure that Officer Johnson could tell a car from a deer. However, it’s not impossible. “Bear” with me on this one.

Grizzly Bear

Oops! Wrong woodland critter. How em-bear-assing!
Image: Scott Calleja

Let’s assume that the accused deer was the most common deer found in the Massachusetts area: the white-tailed deer. To find out more about the white-tailed deer, I turned to National Geographic, as I didn’t have my collection of Zoobooks on hand.

I even have the free Elephant issue and this cool Tiger posterPhoto: BravaCentauri

I even have the free Elephant issue and this cool Tiger poster
Photo: BravaCentauri

According to National Geographic, the white-tailed deer can sprint up to 30 miles per hour. With that, it seems like the case is closed. The deer simply couldn’t have been running 40 mph. However, upon further investigation, I found new evidence from an unlikely source.

You see, if we use the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife as a reference, then we learn that white-tailed deer can run up to speeds of 40 mph in short bursts. That’s straight from an official government organization in the same state where the incident took place. This would be just the right amount of speed to set off the radar device, tracking down a speed of 40 mph.

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While Sayers was probably just trying to weasel his way out of a speeding ticket with a lame excuse, who can say what truly went down that evening. We may just have to follow the flow of “bucks” to find the truth.

My source is known as "Deer" Throat

My source is known only as “Deer” Throat

Sources: The Newburyport Daily News, National Geographic, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife