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Police Forum Police Head Mod: Skidmark
Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 08-07-2011, 10:00 AM   #1
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DriveSmartBC - No Laser, No Radar, is the Ticket Valid?

I was issued a ticket for Speed Against a Municipal Sign for driving over 30km/hr in a playground zone. The officer had no laser and no radar; she flagged me over, saying "The speed limit here is 30--you were not doing 30." I can't say whether I was doing 31 or 51; my best guess based on the location I was pulled over would be somewhere between 30-40. What does the law say surrounding this? Would I have grounds to dispute this ticket?

The law says that a municipality may regulate speed by enacting a bylaw and placing signs to limit the speeds of vehicles on municipal streets. If you pass such a sign your vehicle's speed cannot legally exceed that shown on the sign. If it does, by one or by one hundred, the court may choose to convict.

The courts will also accept estimates of speed from both police officers and the general public where the witness is credible and has knowledge and experience that would allow them to guage speed. Most drivers would have this capability through the experience of operating their own vehicle. Police officers have this capability as well as practice with it as they estimate speed and then confirm that speed with either a laser or radar in the course of their enforcement duties.

It appears that you are not sure of your speed and that it could be over the limit. Being honest, if you cannot convince the court with certainty that it was 30 or less, you will have to dispute on other grounds. These may be that there was no bylaw, there was no sign, the sign was not applicable in the circumstances or the officer was mistaken in the estimate.

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Old 12-13-2011, 12:12 AM   #2
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Hi Skidmark,

Can you provide more info about this topic?


Here are my questions:

1) What makes a police officer's speed estimate credible? I'll assume it's because they went to school for this? Aside from schooling, are there any other reasons why an officer's visual estimate is considered credible?

2) After an officer is trained on visual speed estimating, are there any conditions where their visual estimate is considered inaccurate? eg. darkness, weather conditions, surrounding vehicles travelling at different speeds, cop is moving but not pacing the alleged speeder?

3) Is a speed estimate still considered accurate if a car reaches a police car doing the speed limit? Can the police assume the driver was speeding because the car was able to catch up to the cruiser that's already doing the speed limit? Does this qualify as pacing?

4) Is there a set of rules defining on how a police officer can pace a speeder? eg. Does the officer have to follow the vehicle for a minimum amount of time? Can a police officer just drive along at the speed limit then immediately assume any passing cars are speeding (without obtaining additional evidence from pacing or radar)?

5) You say that witnesses can be considered credible, what kind of requirements do they have to meet before they are considered credible? Are they credible simply because they have a driver's license? Will this hold up in court if there's only one witness that alleged a driver is speeding? If not, how many witnesses would be required?

Last edited by turbo_slug; 12-13-2011 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:30 AM   #3
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For what it's worth I've seen a guy in traffic court dispute this exact thing and had the ticket dismissed.

He passed a police car that was sitting and watching an area, the officer then determined the guy was travelling over the limit, turned his lights on, pulled out, caught up to him and pulled him over.

In court the officer said that he's been on the force for 15+ years and in that time has been trained to estimate vehicle speeds and went on about credentials.

The guy defended himself saying that the officer had no proof that he was speeding since he wasn't shown any radar reading, because the officer didn't use a radar gun, and that he wasn't speeding at all.

The judge asked how long the officer followed the guy. The officer admitted that he was only following long enough to pull the man over. The judge then told the officer that because he didn't follow the vehicle at speeds for a reasonable amount of time and that estimations are, at best, a very rough guide and radar should still be used before issuing a ticket that the man would not be charged and the ticket dismissed.

The guy looked like he would probably leave the courthouse and go pound a few before heading home so I'm pretty confident in saying that he didn't sweet talk his way out.

So if you weren't speeding and there's no proof that you were speeding just explain it like it is. But don't take the negative karma points and lie about it if you were. Good luck.
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neva View Post
For what it's worth I've seen a guy in traffic court dispute this exact thing and had the ticket dismissed.

He passed a police car that was sitting and watching an area, the officer then determined the guy was travelling over the limit, turned his lights on, pulled out, caught up to him and pulled him over.

In court the officer said that he's been on the force for 15+ years and in that time has been trained to estimate vehicle speeds and went on about credentials.

The guy defended himself saying that the officer had no proof that he was speeding since he wasn't shown any radar reading, because the officer didn't use a radar gun, and that he wasn't speeding at all.

The judge asked how long the officer followed the guy. The officer admitted that he was only following long enough to pull the man over. The judge then told the officer that because he didn't follow the vehicle at speeds for a reasonable amount of time and that estimations are, at best, a very rough guide and radar should still be used before issuing a ticket that the man would not be charged and the ticket dismissed.

The guy looked like he would probably leave the courthouse and go pound a few before heading home so I'm pretty confident in saying that he didn't sweet talk his way out.

So if you weren't speeding and there's no proof that you were speeding just explain it like it is. But don't take the negative karma points and lie about it if you were. Good luck.
That judge is more the exception than the rule. It could also be in how the officer explained his evidence. I have never lost a trial in which I had visually estimated a vehicle's speed.

There is no requirement for us to follow a vehicle after making a speed estimation. There is, however, a requirement to take into consideration the +/- error in estimations. For example, my speed estimations, during my radar and laser training were on average +/- 7km/hr with a maximum error rate of 11km/hr +/- the posted speed limit. With practice and continued use over the past couple of years, that has likely improved but that is still the tolerance I use when issuing (or not) a violation ticket.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbo_slug View Post
Here are my questions:

1) What makes a police officer's speed estimate credible? I'll assume it's because they went to school for this? Aside from schooling, are there any other reasons why an officer's visual estimate is considered credible?
Pretty much all traffic members, and many general duty members (where about 95% of police start their career) have been trained in, at the very least, radar. Others will also be trained in laser.

During that training, it is required that visual speed estimations are made. In my training, we made a total of 100 estimations that were recorded on a sheet. Next to the estimations, we put the actual speed (verified with either radar or laser) and next to that, we put the difference/error rate.

We made speed estimations in a variety of situations: stationary for on-coming traffic, stationary for traffic coming up behind us, mobile for on-coming traffic, mobile for traffic coming up behind us, etc

During the course of our daily duties, we have the opportunity to continue to practice and use this skill, which keeps it an ability to which we can testify to, and even improve in.

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2) After an officer is trained on visual speed estimating, are there any conditions where their visual estimate is considered inaccurate? eg. darkness, weather conditions, surrounding vehicles travelling at different speeds, cop is moving but not pacing the alleged speeder?
This would be decided by the JJP, based on a totality of the circumstances, though I would assume that police officers are practicing/using this skill in all weather and lighting conditions, not just in "ideal" situations.

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3) Is a speed estimate still considered accurate if a car reaches a police car doing the speed limit? Can the police assume the driver was speeding because the car was able to catch up to the cruiser that's already doing the speed limit? Does this qualify as pacing?
As mentioned in the answer to your first questions, we also practice estimation for vehicles approaching from the rear, whether we are stationary or mobile. But if a police vehicle is traveling at the speed limit (verified on his certified speedometer, or both the speedo and radar) and another vehicle is gaining/passing it, it is more than reasonable to conclude that the vehicle is therefore traveling above the speed limit.

That is not "pacing". Pacing a vehicle is matching its speed for any given amount of time for any given amount of distance.

Quote:
4) Is there a set of rules defining on how a police officer can pace a speeder? eg. Does the officer have to follow the vehicle for a minimum amount of time? Can a police officer just drive along at the speed limit then immediately assume any passing cars are speeding (without obtaining additional evidence from pacing or radar)?
No, there isn't a set of rules, however it should be done in a safe manner. There is no set distance that we must follow as traveling above the posted speed limit for any amount of time is still illegal.

As for the last part, you asked it above already.

Quote:
5) You say that witnesses can be considered credible, what kind of requirements do they have to meet before they are considered credible? Are they credible simply because they have a driver's license? Will this hold up in court if there's only one witness that alleged a driver is speeding? If not, how many witnesses would be required?
It all depends on the testimony of the witness and any experiences they might have. A witness might say something like this: "I was watching traffic going along as normal, no one really going faster than anyone else. When I drive this route, the average flow of traffic is 65km/hr in a 50km/hr zone. However, on this occasion, I saw this red sports car fly past me and all the other cars. It must have been going 100km/hr! Then a block later, I saw it crashed into the light pole and that man there (pointing at defendant) got out of the driver's seat".

From that, a JJP would be able to look at the average flow of traffic (65km/hr in a 50km/hr zone), the fact that the red sports car flew past the witness and all the other vehicles and conclude that, at the very least the red sports car was traveling 65km/hr. It is would be easy to assume that the red sports car was traveling 21km/hr+ over the speed limit (71km/hr+) based on the description, but any conviction above 65km/hr in a 50km/hr zone would have to come from other evidence. The JJP may be able to convict on a Drive Without Consideration, or Drive Without Due Care, again depending on the other evidence and charges laid by the police officer.


A member of a local speed watch group may have more credible experience than Joe Average, as they stand beside a radar speed board and monitor traffic and can practice speed estimation that way.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:15 AM   #6
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Then what protects a person or persons from a) PO error in judgement or b) a BS pullover?

Years ago I was pulled over on Steveston Hwy between #3 and #4 rd at about 2am. i was heading home at the time (#4 and Williams)

I was driving at about 55km/h. A PO was coming the opposite direction, pulled a U-turn, tailed me for about 2 blocks, then pulled me over.

Gave me a helluva hard time too. I had no records whatsoever at the time.

She told me she saw me going "in excess of 90km/h"

I was like "WHAAAA?"

She even called for backup when I asked for the laser/radar results, citing that I was being uncooperative. I was pretty annoyed.

a year later in court, right before we were heading in, she pulls me aside to talk to me. I told her I'm pleading not guilty. She started going off a little bit about how she knows "how you kids and people are like, with your souped up cars and street racing"

I told her that was wildly inappropriate and that when the JJC finds me not guilty, the next thing i do is to report her.

The ticket was dimissed based on lack of evidence.

NEVERTHELESS. What if it went the other way? Nothing protects me then.

Thoughts?

Last edited by BallPeenHammer2; 12-13-2011 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:07 PM   #7
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A maximum error of +11km/h doesn't give me a lot of confidence, especially when the difference could be a $3xx ticket and points, vs Instant-tow & impound...
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:13 PM   #8
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Which is why, if going on visual estimation alone, I would have to estimate your speed to be about 55km/hr over the limit before even thinking about an excessive speed ticket.

Looking over my recorded estimations, there is only the one speed with that varience. And again, with continued use and practice, my estimations have improved. All this is told to the JJP, who then has to weigh the evidence presented (including the possible variation in possible speed).
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