Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Speeding: Caught on Camera and Your Court Appearance

If You Were Caught On A Radar Gun
Ask to have a look at the radar gun and check that the gun displays the speed that you were stopped for. If possible, get the make, model and serial number of the radar gun. Ask the officer to demonstrate that the radar gun is calibrated (he will probably not do this, if not assume it is not calibrated and use it as evidence). Do not regard self-diagnostics as accurate, Radar guns are calibrated with a pair of tuning forks, and only this external test may be considered accurate. If the officer refuses to demonstrate the calibration, ask him to prove that he has tuning forks in the car (he will probably not be too happy at this point, but he can not do anything, your requests are legitimate). If he doesn't, tell the judge because this
means (at least in your eyes) that that the gun is not calibrated.

If You Were Caught On A LIDAR Gun
Ask to have a look at the radar gun and check that the gun displays the speed that you were stopped for. If possible, get the make, model and serial number of the laser unit. Note the positioning of the unit in relation to the sun or any other bright red or white light. LIDAR uses infrared light and does not work as well when aimed into infrared light sources like the sun or high beam headlights. Ask when the unit was last calibrated. Ask to see a demonstration of the calibration. The same notes apply for the RADAR gun. These however, are not tuned by forks.

YOU MUST MAKE NOTES AT THE SCENE. The officer certainly will. In court you may be asked if the notes were made while the events were still fresh in your mind. If you want to use the notes, then the answer must be a yes. Note the following:

The answers to any questions you asked the officer.
Any items you noted above.
Positions of OTHER CARS. You may be able to claim that he metered someone else, but stopped you (particularly lorries, since radar is good at locking into a larger object).
The weather conditions.
The time and date.
Your direction of travel and the source and destination.
The lane you were in and the name of the road, also the area.
The officer's direction of travel and lane, or note if he was parked.
A brief physical description of the officer so you recognize him in court. (PHOTO if possible)
Take the officer's number, and the unit number on his car.
If you were caught on a Camera.

The police MUST send you a notice of intended prosecution within 14 days.
If they do not, the case is a non-starter.

Preparing For Trial
Examine the ticket a few times. Look for mistakes on the ticket such as a wrong name, time, date, or location. If there are any, you should tell them to the Magistrate. Gather evidence, you should write to the police and ask for at least the following items:

Full copy of the Instruction manual for the RADAR/LIDAR device used.
Copy (both sides) of the calibration certificate.
Details of the training (copy of certificate if there is one) given to the officer in the use of the PARTICULAR device.

It is also recommended that you return to the scene and take pictures of the area, including any signs, which indicate the law. Make sure that your pictures are clear. DO NOT use a digital camera, as it may not be admissible (because you may have Photoshopped it…)

If the Crown Requests an Adjournment
An Adjournment is a postponement of the original trial date. The prosecution may ask for an adjournment because the officer cannot appear on the trial date, which was set. If possible DO NOT agree to this, tell the judge that you had to take a day off work to appear or something (try not to lie.)
Make note of any irregularities in the procedure in your statement to the judge. Irregularities include things such as the wrong ticket number printed on the notice, a silly reason for requesting adjournment (such as a planned holiday, which the police should have known about before setting the date), or receipt of the adjournment notice too close to the trial date. It is possible that if you protest the adjournment, it will be denied. In this case (no pun intended) the charges should be dropped since you can't have a case without the officer’s presence.

In Court
Check in with the prosecutor and usher and make sure you are on the case list, and that he knows you have appeared for trial. This is just to make your presence known, and hope that may offer a plea bargain at this point, which you could consider. He may not look for the officer. If he doesn't appear, the charges should be dropped. This is where it is handy to reference the physical description you should have taken at the scene. If the officer does appear he may approach you and ask to talk to you before the trial. You don't have to, but it is polite to. Ask him to withdraw the charge. He won't likely do that. DO NOT indicate your strategy to him, or show him any notes or pictures. Keep this stuff in a manila envelope or briefcase so that it is out of view prior to the actual trial.

Cross Examining the Officer

This is your chance to put your notes and pictures to work. Ask the officer questions about the day to establish whether he really remembers the incident and you. If he doesn't seem to, ask him directly whether he really remembers what happened that day. Destroying the officer’s credibility is an excellent way to get acquitted. Ask about the radar or lidar equipment. If the officer refused to demonstrate the calibration, ask why and demand to know if the unit was truly calibrated. Each situation is different, but you should be able to use your notes to develop a strategy, which insinuates that the equipment used to clock your speed was not accurate. If you achieve this you will be acquitted. Ask the officer about the laws in the area. This includes turn controls, signalling devices, speed limits, and so on. If he doesn't get it right, use your pictures of the area to prove that he is wrong. Showing that the officer does not understand the laws in effect in the area is another good way to reduce his credibility as a witness against you. You can try to go for the attack that the clocking may have been racially motivated. THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS and proceed with caution. If all goes well, you may make the officer lose his cool and throw a wobbly, this will drop his credibility. Or you may end up with a charge of contempt. Perhaps you could leave this approach out of the equation…

Courtesy and Appearance
Do not underestimate the impression of a shower, clean shave, haircut, and nice suit and tie at the trial. You will look more innocent in this type of dress, and your chance of acquittal or fine reduction will be improved. You must also be courteous to the judge and officers of the court. If you make the judge mad, you will be convicted, so don't make him/her mad.

Summary of Detection Methods
What do policemen use to detect speeders on the road?
Their primary method of detection is to use a laser gun. Being one of the newest technologies and unlike radar guns, a laser beam doesn't spread out much at all, so the police can pinpoint one car and get a precise reading on it. So, why don't police just use laser? You need a VERY steady hand to use a laser gun, because the beam travels so fast there and back and the computer calculates the speed based on perhaps a quarter second burst. So, if the policeman moves his arm so much as a millimetre while shooting the gun, and the beam moves to a point on the car that is closer or further away then the initial contact point, the reading will be totally off. Think about it, if a policeman were pointing the gun at a front licence plate that is 150 feet away, a tiny movement of his arm would move the beam to the windshield of the car. Because of these problems with laser, some courts in the USA have ruled that police cannot use laser for speed detection unless they can cross-reference their speed estimate by either a stopwatch or radar. Radar guns use 3 different bands, these are X, K, and Ka super wide. There isn't a huge difference in performance of any of these bands, they just use different frequencies. Even with all the new technologies out there, police still tend to rely on their radar guns, they are tried and true. They do have a number of drawbacks, however. The beam emitted from a radar gun spreads rapidly, which means it performs poorly in heavy traffic conditions. There are several other methods of detection the police may use. One of them is a speed trap such as Autovision, VASCAR, DS2 etc. in which a portion of road has been measured or had devices fitted in the tarmac, and when you enter the speed trap, the police start a timer, video or similar.... and they can calculate your speed based on how long it takes you to get through the speed trap. These can work very well. There's also photo radar, Gatso which may be built into traffic lights in medium to large size cities. The radar beam will calculate your speed, and snap a picture of your licence plate... and you'll get a ticket in the mail in 14 days.

Later Today:
Evasion Methods

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