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In many speeding ticket cases, clients are curious to learn about what sorts of evidence the prosecution might try to use against them in court. In today’s world, LEOs use a variety of methods to determine if someone is speeding. Officers monitor driver’s speed by using radar, LIDAR, speed traps, traffic cameras, and even by a maneuver known as “pacing.”
An experienced speeding ticket lawyer in Virginia can tell you more about these types of evidence in speeding cases, but this page provides a general overview.
In Virginia, radar and LIDAR are the most commonly used methods by law enforcement officers.
Radar readings are considered very accurate and reliable as long as the equipment was calibrated correctly. The officer is supposed to bring the calibration certificate to court with very specific information on it. Traffic radar instruments in Virginia are very accurate, and unless the defendant can object to something related to them that may demonstrate otherwise, they will be admissible in court.
Moving radar is a bit less accurate than stationary radar, but typically not enough to reduce the charge unless the reading in question is close to the posted speed limit or close to a benchmark necessary to prove a certain violation (for instance, 80 miles per hour, which constitutes reckless driving in Virginia.)
Sometimes there are outside factors, such as strong winds, that may impair the proper functioning of the radar when it is used in certain locations. Therefore it is important to get the officer to specify where he or she was located exactly and what the conditions were like.
The officer is required to demonstrate that the radar gun was adequately calibrated and must have a calibration certificate that shows this. Section 46.2-882 of the Virginia Code says, that a certificate complies if:
1.) It is an original copy
2.) It shows when and by whom it was made
3.) The testing certification was conducted within the six months prior to the date of the event.
If the officer does not have this information on the certificate or does not have a certificate at all, then it is possible to attack his testimony based on that. Usually, cases are dismissed without this information from the officer.
User error sometimes can be an issue when there is a lot of traffic on the road. Drivers driving in close groups can cause these issues by causing the equipment to lock onto the wrong object. Law enforcement officers usually maintain a good amount of distance from the targeted driver to prevent the driver from spotting the officer. This is very common when the officer is using LIDAR equipment.
If some movement of the LIDAR occurs, when the law enforcement officer uses it to clock the drivers speed, then it’s possible that the LIDAR can mistakenly result in significant difference in distance from the target. This increases the possibility that the reading will be inaccurate.
When the officer follows a vehicle and maintains a constant distance between the officer and the driver’s car for a long enough time period to make a reasonably accurate estimate of the driver’s speed by using the officer’s own vehicle speedometer, then that is called pacing the vehicle for speed.
Pacing is admissible evidence in court. In order for it to be considered reliable, the officer must demonstrate that his speedometer was properly calibrated. Pacing is definitely a controversial method because it is very prone to mistakes, but regardless, it is still very commonly used as a generally accepted means of determining a driver’s speed. Pacing provides ample opportunities for cross examination of the police officer in a defense.
A possible issue is that the police officer may have been slowly catching up the driver. This would mean the officer’s speed was slowly increasing while the driver’s does not, which could cause the officer to believe the driver was going faster than he actually was. Another issue is that the officer’s speedometer was not properly calibrated, so he or she was registering an incorrect speed.
A Virginia speeding ticket lawyer can help shed doubt on police officer’s facts and testimony and can also provide argument as to why your ticket should be reduced or dismissed even if you are found guilty, especially if you have a clean record. A speeding ticket lawyer can also provide very strong cross-examination to make sure that the police officer followed all of the steps so that if there has been a mistake in the protocol, then your ticket can be dismissed.
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