Posts Tagged ‘speed enforcement’

Show Me The Radar Reading

“I want to see the radar reading!” This was always a signal to me that the traffic stop was going to be a difficult one. The demand for a print out of the radar reading was a similar request. Depending on the tone of voice, it was often simpler to refuse outright and explain later on in traffic court, letting the justice be the referee.

In British Columbia, the police are not required to show radar or laser readings to the alleged offender. Further, I have never used a radar or laser that created any sort of printout to hand to the person receiving the ticket.

Failing to do either one will not make any difference to the case in traffic court.

When the request was a polite one, I would show the readout of the device and explain it. Often I would also detail how the unit was tested for accuracy and then do the tests on the spot. In the case of a tripod mounted laser I would occasionally allow the driver an opportunity to use it themselves. This probably reduced the chance of a dispute because the person understood how their vehicle’s speed had been measured.

It always seemed that I either had not locked in a violator speed or had locked in a following vehicle’s speed when the tone was belligerent. No amount of explanation would satisfy the person that I couldn’t recall their speed after they had passed by and I had measured the vehicle behind them. The sight of a blank display virtually guaranteed a dispute. Rather than suffer prolonged verbal abuse, I would refuse and wait for court.

For evidence to the contrary, your own speedometer will be the source of the reading that is important to your defence. Testing to make sure that your speedometer is accurate immediately following the receipt of a speeding ticket will reinforce the importance of that reading. It will also help you determine the accuracy of the officer’s measurement.

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Speed Limits

A reader asks: “If the posted speed limits on our roadways are not just suggestions, why are they not enforced? If we are permitted to drive above the posted limit, how far above, and if so, how is anyone ever cited for speeding?”

Speed limits in British Columbia are not suggestions when set by law or by posting a regulatory sign. They are what is known as an absolute liability offence; you are either speeding or you are not. Technically, even one kilometer per hour above the limit is speeding. In traffic court if that one over can be proven, the justice may choose to convict you.

I’m now going to don my flameproof suit and observe that like young children, many drivers push the boundaries and the speed limit is probably the favourite boundary to push. Just how far can you push before the ticket book is exercised? It depends on the officer and the circumstances.

Radar and laser speed measuring devices are highly accurate and the widest tolerance today is probably +/- 1 km/h at 50 km/h. In contrast, your speedometer could be out by as much as 10 km/h and still be considered “close enough” by the manufacturer. If you’ve modified the driveline in any way the accuracy could be even worse. Should this be allowed for?

If you are driving in a school zone at noon and there are children present would it be better to be more exacting than on a sunny day with light traffic on a straight highway in the countryside? With so many vehicles out there being driven 20 or 30 km/h over the limit, should an officer bother with those at 5 over?

I suppose that if you held the pen and ticket book you would be legally correct to start writing at 2 km/h over but in our social climate you would probably be lynched after a month on the job. You would also hold the record for the most cases in traffic court and I doubt that the justice would convict many at that speed.

In short, no, you are not permitted to drive faster than the speed limit. Practically however, you push the boundaries and you take your chances with receiving a ticket. You also take chances with everyone you share the road with.

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