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Pacing in Prince William County Speeding Cases

Pacing is a method of determining another vehicle’s speed by matching its speed with one’s own vehicle and observing the speed necessary to match the target vehicle. Pacing in Prince William County speeding cases involves a pursuing officer following a target vehicle both while maintaining a constant speed and a constant distance between the two vehicles.

The officer then observes the speedometer of their vehicle to infer the speed of the target vehicle. If law enforcement charged you with speeding, an experienced speeding ticket attorney could assess your case to determine if an officer’s use of pacing may be admissible evidence.

Proving Pacing

The accuracy of pacing for speeding cases in Prince William County depends on the precision of the officer’s speedometer, and their ability to accurately maintain a fixed distance away from the target vehicle while both vehicles are moving. Prosecutors can prove the accuracy of pacing by officer testimony about the efforts they undertook to determine a driver’s speed. The presentation of a calibration certificate of the officer’s speedometer and dashboard camera footage may support an officer’s testimony about their use of pacing.

However, pacing comes down to the eyewitness testimony of the officer about what they saw on their speedometer when they matched the speed of the target vehicle, how much distance they maintained away from the vehicle, and how long the officer paced the target vehicle. The longer an officer successfully paces a target vehicle, the more accurate the pacing may be.

There is no mandatory or universal requirement for how long of a tracking history an officer has to build up before concluding the target vehicle’s speed. Many police departments recommend at least .2 miles before deciding on a reading.

How Much Weight is a Pacing Argument Given in Court?

Although pacing may be the least reliable method of speed determination utilized by law enforcement, courts frequently consider and accept pacing as weighty enough to support speed-based convictions and traffic stops. It may not be enough to allege that pacing is unreliable for defense because specific flaws in an officer’s instance of pacing may need to be demonstrated to bring a court to a meaningful level of doubt.

Relying on the Officer’s Ability to Assume Certain Speeds

Pacing in cases of speeding heavily relies on a Prince William County officer’s ability to perceive certain and constant speeds accurately. If any acceleration or deceleration takes place, it interrupts the pacing process and requires restarting. This can be particularly problematic if the pacing involves the officer judging speeds and distances from in front of the target vehicle or beside the target vehicle. Curved roadways also make it harder for officers to gauge constant speeds and distances accurately.

Even if an officer correctly perceives their own speed and distance, they still must assume the accuracy of their speedometer. Dividing their attention between maintaining their distance from the target vehicle and observing their speedometer may leave room for error. An erroneous speedometer can undermine pacing entirely, and most speedometers have an inherent margin of error themselves, which can increase in severity the higher the speed a vehicle is traveling.

The Importance of Consistency of Speed in Pacing

Failure to maintain either constant speed or a constant distance from a target vehicle debases the use of pacing and should invalidate any speed conclusions derived from that instance of pacing. Proving that an officer failed to maintain their speed and distance may be easy because an officer may admit to this discrepancy by claiming that the target vehicle was moving so fast that they had to travel  “at least” or “more than” a certain speed of their own to keep pursuing to the target vehicle. Although this is not a proper pacing protocol, some judges view it as compelling evidence of speeding and may still convict the defendant.

Contact an Attorney to Discuss the Use of Pacing for Speeding Cases in Prince William County

Officers may use various techniques, such as pacing, to prove that a driver was speeding. A legal representative could explain how pacing in Prince William County speeding cases may be used against you and how to build a defense against it. If you are facing speeding charges, contact an attorney today, and schedule a case consultation.

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