By Jordan W. Charness
In the good old days when the cops used radar machines to capture your speed, you were allowed to own a radar detector device, which gave you at least a fighting chance at knowing if there was a radar trap ahead of you.
And in those good old days, radar detector devices were often more advanced than the radar machines the police were using and consumers could afford better technology and technology upgrades much more quickly than police departments could.
To give the police an edge in catching speeders, lawmakers across the country did two things: in most places they made it illegal to use radar detectors or even have one installed in the passenger compartment of a car. The second thing they did was to change from a semi-reliable Doppler radar system to a laser system.
Nowadays, a specially trained police officer aims a laser sighting device which shines tiny red dots on your car so that the police officer knows exactly which car is being targeted. Once he presses the trigger, the response time back to the laser gun is measured in milliseconds. It is almost impossible for a properly functioning laser machine to register the speed of any car other than the one it had been aimed at.
This has made it much more difficult to defend a speeding ticket, but it does not mean that every case is hopeless; take what happened in court the other day.
After I carefully examined all the written proof that was to be presented by the Crown attorney, I noticed that the police officer had not completed the entire form the way he should have.
In order for a laser-based speeding ticket to work, the police officer must attest to the fact that he or she is specially-trained to use that machine and that the machine was tested and was properly functioning on the day that it was being used to catch speeders. It must indicate the time and date of the test as well as the results of the test.
In this particular ticket the police officer did indeed indicate that at eight o’clock in the morning he tested the machine and that it was working properly. He also attested to the fact that at two o’clock in the afternoon when he finished his shift he checked the machine once again and it was still properly functioning. My client’s ticket was issued at 10 o’clock in the morning.
However, on the very same page, he also swore out an affidavit that he had checked a radar Doppler machine. He indicated that the time of the test was at 0000 hrs and that the time of the second test was also at 0000 hours.
I pointed out to the judge that it was highly unlikely that the police officer had tested the radar Doppler machine in less than one 100th of a second and did it all at midnight. Nonetheless, his sworn affidavit said just that.
I pointed out to the judge that if one sworn affidavit was clearly false then there was no reason to believe the sworn affidavit that the laser machine was properly functioning should be true.
The judge ruled that we had indeed raised a reasonable doubt in his mind as to whether or not the laser machine had ever been checked and therefore there was no real proof of my client was speeding.