Is a Copy of a Virginia State Police Calibration Acceptable for Court?

copy of a calibration

One of the biggest issues in a speeding or reckless driving case in Virginia is whether or not the officer has the proper calibration paperwork to prove their case. In some cases, what the officer will have is a copy of a calibration. Is a Virginia State Police calibration copy good enough?

The key issue for Virginia State Police calibrations, at least around the Fredericksburg area, is that a lot of them are done actually by the Virginia State Police themselves.

The tuning forks are actually sent to an office where an employee of the State Police actually does the calibration. Therefore, the copy of the calibration might come into evidence under the official documents exception.

This exception says that true copies of records of the Commonwealth of Virginia, or agencies thereof, can be submitted into evidence in a case. But that exception requires the copy to be authenticated as a true copy. A xerox is not enough!

Common Calibration Errors

The most common error that I see is not where an officer doesn’t have a certificate. The most common issue is a gap in the calibration certificates. 46.2-882 of the Viriginia Code says that “No calibration or testing of such device shall be valid for longer than six months.”

Some officers and prosecutors argue that the certificate has to be dated plus or minus six months from the date of the offense when they stopped you. However, most judges, at least in the Fredericksburg area, will rule that the certificate has to be dated six months before the offense.

The certificate proves that, on the day the officer stopped you, he knew that his tuning forks were calibrated and were accurate because they had been tested within the previous six months. If a certificate six months after the stop would be valid, then the officer would have no proof potentially that his tuning forks were accurate.

They could be way off on the day of the offense, but he wouldn’t know. They could be changed or altered sometime after the stop but before the calibration was done. It’s a very loose reading of statute.

What does this mean? Basically, what I look for when I’m checking over the tuning fork, speedometer or LIDAR calibration certificates is a date range.

I use a custom software program in my Android tablet that highlights the applicable six-month calibration window for each case. That shows me the precise window where the officer’s calibration certificate must fall. If he doesn’t have a certificate dated within that window, he’s got a problem.

I talk with the officer and find out all the details of the stop, find out if you were polite and cooperative, and ask to see the certificate. This is why attorneys are making a huge mistake when they don’t ask to see the certificates. They might be giving away the case!

[VIDEO] Is a Photocopy of The Officer’s Calibration Good Enough for Court?

Recent Case Result: Jailable Reckless Driving Reduced with Speedometer Calibration

(Cases depend upon unique facts. Past cases do not guarantee future outcomes.)

We represented Bill for a high-speed reckless driving case in Stafford County where he was facing the risk of jail – or at least sitting in the courthouse holding cell.

Bill was of course very nervous about the possible misdemeanor conviction and losing his liberty behind bars. He followed all of our pre-court recommendations, including obtaining a notarized calibration of his speedometer.

Our firm argued in Stafford General District Court on Bill’s behalf that the judge should consider Bill’s favorable speedometer calibration and treat him like other low-speed reckless driving defendants.
CASE OUTCOME: The Stafford judge agreed with our argument, reducing the charge to a Stafford County code traffic ticket that doesnotappear on Bill’s driving record. Bill walked out of the courthouse that morning after paying a small fine.

Contact Flusche & Fitz Today

This is why having my experience on your side is critical. Even this one particular type of calibration can be quite difficult to analyze to see if it’s going to be eligible to be used in court by the officer.

If the officer cannot prove that they have the proper calibration for your case, then your case should be dismissed if it’s a speeding or reckless driving by speed charge.

If you don’t have an attorney, you likely won’t be able to analyze the paperwork properly on the spot at court and be able to spot a real potential issue like this.

If you’re charged with speeding or reckless driving by speed in Virginia, you should definitely contact me for help right away.


Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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