Radar Guns and Traffic Tickerts

J. Bradley Klepper
Attorney at Law

Ok…..here is the deal. I defend traffic citations for a living. Have for years. As a result, I have reached an “understanding” regarding violations of certain traffic laws. For example, I thought it was universally understood that if you are in your personal vehicle (NOT A CMV) the first 5 mph over the limit are free. Part of the “we will give you a little bit over the limit” position taken by most officers. Turns out, I was wrong.

Just the other day I had the privilege of getting to have a roadside conversation with an officer regarding my ALLEGED speed (in case the officer is reading this). Turns out, this officer had not gotten the memo about the “the first 5 mph are free.” In fact, when I pulled over I was asked if I knew how fast I was going and, of course, I said no (for the record that is always your answer as your response could be an admission of guilt and used against you in court). It was then that I was invited back to view the readings on the laser. Turns out the dang thang said I was allegedly speeding. Of course, I immediately started thinking of how to defend the citation and laser readings in particular. As my mind works in mysterious way, I also thought…hey this could be a good article.

Everybody knows that law enforcement has used radar guns and laser guns for 897 years to determine if a vehicle is speeding. In fact, it is still common to this day for law enforcement to use radar and laser guns to clock drivers and issue tickets.  Keep in mind, that once an officer sees you break the law he has probable cause to stop you and sometimes those stops can yield a lot more than a speeding ticket.  You could receive a DUI or, if you are lucky, find that you have a warrant for your arrest and that speeding ticket is just a small problem. 

If you are stopped based upon the radar or laser gun information, it is possible to challenge that stop due to the mechanical and electrical limitations in all radar or laser guns.  These speed detecting guns both send and receive signals, either radar or light waves, and based upon the Doppler Effect can calculate the speed of the vehicle.  Yes, these speed guns are elaborate and sensitive equipment that requires regular and competent adjustment and calibration by the user.  For example, the radar gun manufacturer recommends calibration with a tuning fork BEFORE EVERY use, but states may require testing and calibration on less frequent bases such as once before the officer’s shift starts.

Officers are required to have the proper and current training on the equipment they use determine you were speeding.  That means you have the opportunity to verify in court they do in fact have that training and they did the proper calibrations as required by their state or jurisdiction requirements.

When you are in court defending yourself, you should make sure you ask the officer the following questions: are you on the current police force?, how long have you been an officer?, did you use a radar or laser gun to determine I was speeding?, do you have the required training to use that device?, show me your certified certificates of training., do you calibrate and maintain that device?, show me your certified maintenance and repair logs for that device., show me you logs for calibrating that device for the 30 days prior to and including the date you issued me the speeding ticket in question today., if you did not do the maintenance on the device who did and where are the certified logs for the maintenance?, did you use any equipment to calibrate the device, if so what and can you produce it for the courts review?, how many tickets do you write each month based upon the displays from the device?, , and the list goes on.

You can ask these questions but must know what to do when you get the answers to best protect yourself from the speeding ticket.  That is why I recommend that when you receive that ticket, you hire an attorney rather than try and defend it yourself.

Brad Klepper, Esq. is President of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm entirely dedicated to legal defense of the nation's commercial drivers. Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the forty-eight (48) states on both moving and non-moving violations. Brad is also Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at greatly discounted rates. Brad spent almost a decade with the largest law firm in Oklahoma where his practice included extensive experience in transactional law, business defense litigation, and intellectual property. In addition, Brad is a licensed architect and serves as General Counsel to the Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers. Brad has dedicated much of his time to DataQs challenges, which are challenges posed to the FMCSA for CSA incidents, to examine data and reports filed by law enforcement.

800-333-DRIVE (3748) or www.interstatetrucker.com and www.driverslegalplan.com