Reckless Driving and Speeding Defense Myths

I defend hundreds of reckless driving tickets every year, and I speak with even more people about their situation. In my experience, there are many myths about reckless driving / speeding defense. There are in fact legitimate defenses we can use, but the ones on this page are myths.

You can Argue Technical Radar Defenses

Not usually.

Technical radar defenses typically require an expert in court on our behalf. Radar is a very high-tech device, even though we kind of take it for granted in our time. It’s using a high-tech method to determine speed, and so there are some flaws in the technology. People think that they can read up on a “beat your speeding ticket” book and know all these flaws and argue to the judge about these flaws.

However, it usually would require an expert witness in radar technology to testify why the flaws would matter in the first place and to testify how it would have affected your specific case. Just telling the judge about the cosine effect or about interference from rain or windshield wipers is not enough. You’re going to need expert testimony to prove to the judge that there’s at least reasonable doubt that these factors or these flaws could have mattered in your case.

Most judges in Virginia are very reliant on the radar and the LIDAR gun and they’re not going to simply dismiss the case because you bring up some fancy word or concept that you read online. I’m not saying that it never happens, but it’s very rare for an argument about some technological limitation of the radar to work unless there was some kind of really exceptional situation or where you had an expert witness in court with you.

If the Officer Doesn’t Show up, You Win

Wrong. The officer is going to be at court. He usually has one day per month when he’s due at each court in his jurisdiction, and he will be there.

If the officer doesn’t show up, it’s not an automatic victory for the defense. First of all, the judge is going to ask where the officer is because he is required to be at court as well. In most cases when the officer isn’t there, it’s because he has a legitimate reason. They’re officers, so they do have emergency duties that occur or different assignments that pop up that can conflict with their court schedule. That’s what happens a lot of times, that they’re not there because of official business. In those situations, the judge would normally continue the case to the officer’s next court date.

Officers are people too, so personal emergencies arise such as family situations, illness, death, things like that. Just like if you called into the court and said that your mother had just passed away so you can’t make it to court, the judge would continue the case for you, the same applies to the officer. If there’s some kind of emergency, and the officer notifies the court somehow of what’s going on, most judges would automatically continue the case one time for that situation.

Both situations do depend on the judge. However, I don’t know any judge in Virginia that will automatically dismiss the case just because the officer is not there. There needs to be more to the situation to earn a dismissal. If the officer doesn’t show up and doesn’t call in, and the judge has no idea where he is, then the case might be dismissed. However, it is not an automatic victory just because the officer doesn’t show up.

You Have the Right to see the Radar Gun

False. Virginia law used to require the officer to show you the radar gun on request. However, that hasn’t been the law in a long time in Virginia. The fact of the matter is, that you don’t have the right to see your radar or LIDAR unit that the officer clocked you with.

If you think about it from an officer safety standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. It would be unsafe in many ways for one officer to have you out of the vehicle anytime YOU request it. That’s one big reason why they simply don’t allow that anymore. It can be dangerous for the officers because they never really know what they’re getting into when they have someone pulled over.

Unfortunately, it’s simply not the law that you have to see the radar or LIDAR on the side of the road, and so anyone who says otherwise in Virginia is flat out wrong.

If the Officer Can’t Pick You Out, You Win

Wrong. The officer has to be able to testify that he got the right person. That’s correct. He has to be able to identify the driver of the vehicle that he pulled over and make sure it was the person who he charged with the offense. However, most judges around Virginia have a much easier way of making sure the officer could identify you.

If the officer can testify that he checked the driver’s license of the person who he pulled over, that the driver’s license matched the person that he pulled over when he inspected the license, and that he copied down the information from the license accurately onto the ticket, that is usually enough to prove the identification of the defendant.

I’ve heard some people claim that you can sit in the courtroom without getting up when your name is called. Then your attorney can ask the officer to point out the client. That’s simply not needed in most reckless driving by speed or speeding cases in Virginia. What would happen most likely is the judge would simply mark the defendant down as not present in court. The trial would continue as if the defendant wasn’t even there. The officer would testify that he checked the license, the license matched the driver, and he copied the information down onto the ticket.

The only tiny kernel of truth of this myth is that the officer does have to prove the identity of the person he pulled over. If there’s a case where the officer maybe made a mistake on the ticket writing down the information, then this line of approach could be fruitful. However, most judges would probably not appreciate the manner of executing it in court. The easier thing to do would be to just tell your client not to come. You could then argue to the judge about the mistake on the ticket, perhaps bringing a copy of the license to show the judge that your client’s information is different than what is on the ticket.

The Officer has to Produce his Tuning Fork Logs

False. In Virginia courts where I practice, there are no tuning fork calibration logs.

What the officer has are certificates of accuracy for his tuning fork. These certificates by statute must be dated within six months prior to the offense date. They are pieces of paper. Sometimes they are full sheets; sometimes they are a half sheet.

The officer has to have the certificate to show that his tuning forks were calibrated and found to be accurate within the past six months. He doesn’t have to show all the prior calibrations or any subsequent calibrations. He just has to show one calibration certificate within the past six months for each tuning fork, so there’s no need for them to keep any kind of running log of calibration.

In fact, certificates actually supply greater accuracy and greater reliability than just a log that the officer might create himself. Certificates are prepared by the tuning fork calibration person who is a third party certifying that these tuning forks are resonating at the correct frequency.

Don’t Rely on a Myth

If you’re charged with reckless driving in Virginia, you don’t want to rely on internet myths for your defense.

Contact me today to learn what defense options you do have.

Photo by: mdfriendofhillary

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