By Jordan W. Charness
“I thought that this time I could do it myself. In fact I’m quite proud.” Peter certainly did sound full of himself that morning. “After all if I get myself into trouble I should be able to get myself out of it. All you need to do today is to check my work so that I can be sure that I will win this time.”
I suggested that Peter slow down and give me all the facts so we could both know what he was talking about. It seems that one more time, and despite all his best efforts, Peter had been given a ticket for speeding. He claims that he was caught in a radar trap. The police officer insisted that she clocked him going 82 kilometres per hour in a 50 km/h zone. He was certain that although he may have been driving a touch over the speed limit there was no way that he was going that fast.
He told the cop that he could not have possibly been doing the speed that she claimed. She politely replied that if he did not agree he was welcome to take a matter before the Judge and challenge her ticket in court. Peter then asked to see her radar gun and was told that she was not the officer who clocked him but the radar operator was in another car a few hundred meters away.
The police officer then suggested that if Peter wanted to see the radar results he should go find the unmarked police car and pointed back the way he came. Since it was an unmarked police car Peter asked her for a better description so that he would know which car to go look for. She told him exactly what the car looked like and where he could find it.
When she came back to give him the ticket he asked for her badge number as well as the name and badge number of the officer operating the radar device. She readily gave him her badge number but as far as the other cop was concerned she suggested that he go to the unmarked car and ask him himself.
When Peter walked back to the corner where the unmarked police car should have been he found that there was no car there. The police car that had stopped him had also moved on. With no one to talk to Peter was pretty annoyed.
This is where the “I did it myself” comes into play: since Peter had several speeding tickets in his driving career he felt that he had good reason to try and challenge this ticket. After all, he now had some experience. In addition he felt that this was a speed trap and that there must been something wrong with the radar gun since he was absolutely certain that he was not driving that fast.
Instead of calling me, Peter decided to research speeding tickets on the Internet. It took him a little while but eventually he found some general information on fighting speeding tickets. According to some unnamed self-styled expert in a chat room he was told that when fighting a speeding ticket he should do the following:
“Ask to see all of the following: the radar unit’s calibration and maintenance records; the cop’s radar training certification; the tuning fork used to calibrate the radar unit, and the calibration certificate of the fork; list of models, makes and serial numbers of all radar units being used by the police station. If you can’t get any of these documents, tell that to the judge in traffic court, and you will have your ticket dismissed because you could not examine the evidence being used against you.”
Unfortunately, while the Internet is a wonderful tool and a great way of accessing information it does not always apply to your specific case. Wherever Peter got this advice from, it was filled with both information and misinformation.
Although it is true that you have a charter right to examine all of the evidence being used against you in court, most of the above information is contained in the document that is presented to the court by the crown prosecutor. You have a right to ask for a copy of the police report in advance particularly since the ticketing police officer will not likely attend the trial.
Items like the “list of models, makes and serial numbers of all radar units being used by the police station” are not items that will be used against you so you do not have a right to ask for them since they have no bearing on your case.
In most cases, the police officers who man the radar guns have special training to do so and have properly calibrated the machines. This too will be indicated in their statement.
The major problem with this bit of Internet advice is that most police officers now use a laser system which is not the same as a radar gun. Since it does not operate the same way, asking for the items listed above may be of no use at all.
The new laser devices are much better than the old radar guns and are much more accurate. They often take several readings of the same car and the police officer can clearly tell which car is being targeted. While it is still a machine and subject to breaking down your chances of beating a speeding ticket that was based on a laser gun are fairly slim.