Police Abuse

That Time Michael Moynihan Got Handcuffed at a NYC Checkpoint for an Unpaid 1998 Speeding Ticket

The most hilarious overpolicing story you'll hear this week, on the latest Fifth Column podcast


Beloved former Reasoner and current Vice News Tonight correspondent Michael C. Moynihan is not the world's best driver or most law-abiding citizen. So it may not come as a big surprise to his friends and acquaintances to hear that the man famous for catching plagiarists was himself nabbed by New York's finest for coloring a wee bit outside the lines.

But would you believe he was stopped at a random checkpoint, told to summon a friend to pick up his young daughter, then handcuffed and jailed for nine hours, all over an unpaid parking ticket from…1998?

Thus begins an infuriating, educational, though mostly hilarious story on the latest episode of The Fifth Column, the podcast I co-host with Moynihan, Kmele Foster, and Anthony Fisher. We cover the non-applicability of Miranda rights, Judge Andrew Napolitano's old Reason feature about checkpoints, and the ethics of jailhouse snitching, but mainly sit back and laugh at a crazy story well told. It's at the top of the show here:

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  1. Maybe with the interest and fees, it was now a felony?

    1. Don’t give them idea.

  2. …, all over an unpaid parking ticket from…1998?

    Wasn’t it a speeding ticket?

    1. Bait and switch!

  3. So traffic tickets don’t come with a statute of limitations?

    1. When does law enforcement bother following the law?

      1. Well, in this case, Law enforcement probably IS following the law. There was obviously a standing bench warrant for Moynihan, so they arrested him. That’s how traffic tickets work. I was in a bureaucratic hell with a parking ticket about 20 years ago, and I was told that if I refused to pay the ticket, a bench warrant would be issued for me. And there may have been for a short time, I don’t know because it got resolved.

        I guess I’m surprised there’d be a standing bench warrant for a misdemeanor for 21 years. Maybe they don’t clear those and the statute of limitations is dealt with once you’re sitting in front of the judge. Meaning you’re not going to beat the ride, even if you beat the rap.

  4. Michael: This is clearly the first time you’ve been arrested. Marandizing doesn’t happen when they slap the cuffs on you. That’s hollywood. They usually mirandize you at the station before they take a statement.

  5. Huh, Michael Moynihan has a different definition of Journalist than the Reason staff do.

  6. Was a pretty funny story. As was the various “characters” in met in the slammer while waiting to get out.

    1. As was the various “characters” in met in the slammer while waiting to get out.

      A pretty good reminder that, contra police procedurals, your average crook is a moron.

  7. Moynihan, you’ve been working for Vice too long. Sargon of Akaad isn’t “alt-right”.

    1. Yeah – it would be fair to call Sargon of Akaad “New Right,” in the sense that Michael Malice uses the term, but he shouldn’t be called “alt-right” without taking note of criticisms Sargon himself has made of the “alt-right.”

      Unless, of course, one is simply looking to conflate the two (not that I think Moynihan himself is – I think he’s just being sloppy about something he doesn’t really care about – but I think there are plenty [at Vice, even!] who identify ‘anti-Progressive’ with ‘alt-right’ in a way that often is deliberately misleading).

      1. I also think it’s funny how they criticize Dave Rubin (whom I think is not above criticism) and make some sideways comments about the so-called “dark web” about their feelings of being put upon by the establishment media, then detail the account about how the establishment media scared Pete Buttigieg was scared away from doing Rubin’s show– by the establishment media.

        Say what you will about the Joe Rogans and the Dave Rubins, they ARE considered untouchable by the establishment media and so some of their standoffish nature about dealing with the MSM is in fact justified in my opinion.

        And part of that is in fact money. Vice news (as an example) deserves all the derision it gets– especially as they flail about attacking everything around them as the money dries up.

        1. some of their standoffish nature about dealing with the MSM is in fact justified in my opinion

          No doubt – and the 5th Column crew do dance around this a little bit. Moynihan does speculate on the weirdness of how ignored Rogan is despite his huge fanbase, but Moynihan and Fischer in particular seem a little self-conscious about being in the “establishment media” these days. They clearly want to distinguish themselves from Rubin, but are also uncomfortable sympathizing with the forces that chased Buttigieg off the show.

      2. Side discussion: Is Shane Smith a legit journalist or is he an “opinion-monger”? Are your journalist bona-fides directly related to the size of the legal team backing your organization?

        1. Is Shane Smith a legit journalist or is he an “opinion-monger”?

          A distinction without a difference?

  8. Moynihan: If you’re right that the people that believe all these things that Trump is saying that they’re all “morons”, you’re including the Democratic base who rejected Hillary for Bernie, right? Because they believe all that stuff too and have for a very long time:

    o Manufacturing jobs are coming back with the right policies.
    o Tariffs work


    1. you’re including the Democratic base who rejected Hillary for Bernie, right?

      I do believe that Moynihan has opined that Bernie’s supporters are, indeed, also morons.

      1. To be clear, I’m not trying to be “but Democrats too” I’m really more sensitive about calling everyone who disagrees with you on deep economic issues “morons”. This is how we got here in the first place. The reason the populist right and left are on the rise, and we have a “coarsening” of politics is because people who lost their manufacturing jobs have been called “morons” for decades… primarily by the center left.

        Douglas Murray had a great point in an interview I heard the other day (someone also laughably called “alt-right” and being derided as being part of the “dark web”). Essentially (paraphrased) he said that as the establishment polity and media narrowed the range of acceptable discussion, a backlash is ensuing and you’re seeing a rise of far-right parties and comedians being elected into government. And that’s not good.

        And I agree with him completely. So quit calling voters morons, it’s counterproductive. That is unless you want another four years of Trump.

        1. Everyone who has opinions on economics is a moron. Because that’s economics….

  9. Usually criminals to hide the evidence hurry and ingest their illicit drugs when the cuffs come out. Moynihan stuffs carbs into his mouth.

  10. The tale of the ancient unpaid ticket was very enjoyable…. and familiar to me.

    I ran into a similar situation with an old ticket. I got pulled over way back in the early 1990’s in North Carolina. When I got home I sent in a check and forgot about it.

    Fast forward 10 years. I have an expired tag. I get pulled over and they tell me my license is suspended. Apparently they didn’t apply the check. And where exactly am I going to find a 10 year old cancelled check?? So I hire a local attorney and he gets the ticket tossed. $360 later, all is well.

    Fast forward 15 years. I go to renew my license. “Your license has been suspended.”


    After some checking the clerk determines that my North Carolina license has been suspended. They just synchronized databases between a bunch of states, so a lot of these records are popping up.

    “But I don’t have a North Carolina driver’s license. I haven’t had a North Carolina driver’s license since the 80’s….”

    Nothing they can do about it.. but they give me a number to call in North Carolina.

    This is where the confluence with Moynahan’s story begins. Because they assigned him a NY drivers license number so they could suspend it.

    So, I call the lady from the DMV. “I need your NC Driver’s License number.”

    Me: “I don’t have a NC Driver’s License. I have not had one for over 30 years.”

    DMV: “If it is suspended….”

    Me: “My point exactly. So what do we do?”

    DMV: “Please hold.”

    An hour and a half later, they’ve found my record. My license was suspended (even though I don’t have an NC DL) because of the afore mentioned ticket.

    Me: “But that ticket was handled. Twice. The second time with a judge in court.”

    DMV: “You are required to pay a $65 reinstatement fee.”

    Me: “But I don’t have an NC license and the license I don’t have wasn’t suspended”

    DMV: “Yes, but in order to reinstate it, you have to pay the fee.”

    After about a dozen rounds of that, discovering that there is no way out of this Catch 22, I resolve to cut my losses and pay the extortion of $65.

    Me: “Can you take a credit card?”

    DMV: “Do you have a friend or family that lives in NC? They can come to any DMV office and pay by cash or check…”

    Me: “You are not joking, are you?”

    DMV: “Or you can mail a check.”

    Me: “Fine. How will you notify me when it is taken care of?”

    DMV: “Well… uh… I guess you could send a self-addressed stamped envelope and then whoever processes it might send it back…”

    That’s when I realized I had reached the end of that road.

    It took another 3 months to get my license renewed. Luckily I didn’t pick up any other violations for driving on a suspended license.

    But I have officially paid a fee to get my non-existent NC driver’s license that wasn’t suspended reinstated from suspension. So at least I have that going for me…..

  11. unpaid parking ticket


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