Instruments Used in Virginia Speeding Ticket Cases

Officers can prove that they were recording the speed of your vehicle through the use of specialized equipment, such as radar and LIDAR detectors, or through pacing your vehicle. The equipment law enforcement uses is supposed to be checked before and after their shift and calibrated within 6 months of the date of the offense.  As long as the equipment is properly maintained and calibrated as protocol requires, then there’s no reason why these instruments shouldn’t be working properly, which means that they’re very accurate and reliable and the court will therefore accept them as evidence.

Therefore, if you are cited for speeding but are interested in challenging your ticket, it is important you consult with a Virginia speeding ticket lawyer as soon as possible so they can look at the facts of your case and help you put forth the strongest defense possible about why these devices may not have been reliable. To begin preparing for your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

Is It My Word Against The Officer’s?

It is generally not simply your word against the officer’s because the officer, if everything is done correctly, will be able to show their calibration certificate that states that their equipment was working properly. Assuming that it was working properly, then now they have the reading on their radar backed up by documents that show that his radar was working properly, which further supports his testimony that you were going at the speed they alleged you to be going. This, in comparison to someone just having their own personal opinion with nothing to back it up, is going to be much more persuasive.

Traffic Tools Used in Virgina Speeding Ticket Cases

There are two main tools that are used to detect speeding in Virginia, which are radar and LIDAR.  LIDAR uses a laser and is a slightly newer technology than radar that is slightly more accurate. Both of them, however, are extremely accurate and the court accepts both as reliable as long as the officer can show that they were properly maintained and calibrated.

Radar Devices

As long as everything is properly functioning and is shown as such with the calibration certificate, the court accepts radar readings as very strong, reliable, and accurate evidence in court. Some people have tried to use radar detectors that detect when a radar gun is being used as a way to avoid getting a speeding ticket. However, radar detectors are illegal in the state of Virginia if they are in your vehicle and readily accessible to you or any of your passengers. It is likely in a person’s interest to avoid using a radar detector.

How accurate are these traffic radar instruments specifically the ones used in Virginia?

The traffic radar instruments used in Virginia are extremely accurate. It’s very rare for them to malfunction as long as everything is maintained properly.

Sometimes, in these kinds of cases, there’s a possibility that the radar instrument locked on to the wrong object. This is very hard to prove because it requires a good cross examination of the police officer to demonstrate that there’s a possibility that they may have used the instrument incorrectly.

Sometimes, if there’s a lot of traffic on the road, this possibility increases or if the police officer was at a distance from the targeted vehicle that was a little bit too far. Additionally, the weather conditions can provide for a defense due to interference, such as if you’re on a hill or on a bridge and there’s a lot of wind or a lot of rain that could possibly interfere with the radar equipment.

Is Operator Error Common With Radar Guns?

It may be common for operator error to happen, but it is one of those things that is going to be really hard to demonstrate, because in order to prove that there was operator error, you’re going to need the police officer to testify to that possibility. Most police officers aren’t very willing to openly admit that maybe they did their job incorrectly.

LIDAR Devices

The defenses for LIDAR are largely the same defenses that are used for radar. The calibration certificate needs to be accurate and a true copy with all the necessary information on it. There is also the same possibility of locking on to the wrong object, interference, or things like that, but since LIDAR is newer than radar, generally the defenses are a little bit weaker, because there’s less room for error with LIDAR.

Does The State Need To Prove The Device Works?

Yes. The state does need to prove that the speed reading instruments work, otherwise there is not really any strong evidence to support their side. The way that they prove this is by having the calibration certificate.


Pacing is when an officer targets a vehicle they believe to be speeding. The officer matches that vehicle’s speed with his cruiser and follows the targeted vehicle for a reasonable amount of time enough to be able to determine that they’re going at the exact same speed. The officer then looks at his own speedometer to determine how fast he’s going, and that’s the speed he charged the targeted vehicle with

Is Pacing Admissible Evidence of Speeding?

Pacing is admissible evidence of speeding in Virginia, although it is pretty controversial because it’s a lot more subjective than a radar gun instrument reading or a LiDAR instrument reading. This is because at the end of the day, the officer really could just say whatever numbers he wants and then say that’s what his speedometer said.

What Other Issues Are There Regarding Pacing?

Another issue that could pop up in pacing related cases is when the officer is targeting a vehicle but he’s also intending to pull the vehicle over, it is possible that the officer was slowly gaining speed in order to catch up to the vehicle to pull them over. If this is the case, then the speed that the officer determines the targeted vehicle to be going is higher than what the actual speed of the targeted vehicle was.

Another issue or defense in pacing is that the officer’s own speedometer needs to be properly calibrated and the officer needs to demonstrate this in court, because if his calibration is off on his speedometer then the alleged speeding violation is put into question.

Common Myths Regarding Speeding Instruments

A common myth about speed reading instruments in Virginia is about their weight in court. Many times people believe if they can say that they didn’t believe that they were going as fast as the officer said, that testimony is going to be enough.

But speed reading instruments are accurate and there’s usually evidence backing up the speed on the radar that the officer presents in court. It’s not common for officers to make up a number and then make up a calibration certificate; none of this is arbitrary. It is all backed up with evidence. So a very common myth is that you can just get out of whatever the reading says by little things like your own opinion but that’s not the case.