More traffic tickets are given for speeding than for any other traffic infraction violation. There are two ways a driver can be cited for speeding: 1) by violating the "basic speed law" under Vehicle Code Section 22350; and 2) by exceeding a maximum speed limit (Vehicle Code Sections 22348, 22349, 22356). Conviction of any of these sections will result in one point being assessed to your driving record and, if you have accumulated too many points, suspension of your driver's license. CONTACT our office today if you received a speeding ticket in Los Angeles.
HOW DO OFFICERS DETERMINE WHETHER A PERSON IS SPEEDING?
The two most common ways for an officer to determine a driver's speed are by use of a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) device or by "pacing" the vehicle. The LIDAR device is a tool used by traffic police officers to measure the speed of a vehicle. The LIDAR device emits a narrow beam of laser light that is aimed at a specific target, which in this case would be a vehicle. The device then measures the time it takes for the laser light to bounce back from the target, which allows it to calculate the distance between the device and the target vehicle. By taking multiple measurements over a period of time, the LIDAR device can also determine the speed of the target vehicle by calculating how much the distance between the device and the target vehicle changes over time.
LIDAR devices are often used by traffic police officers because they are very accurate and can detect the speed of a single vehicle in a group of vehicles. However, they require a clear and unobstructed view of the target vehicle to obtain an accurate reading. It's worth noting that a LIDAR device must be used properly, and the officer using it must be trained and certified to do so. Additionally, the accuracy of the device's reading can be challenged in court by a good Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney if there is reason to believe that it was not functioning correctly or if the officer did not have a clear view of the target vehicle. Call our office today at (877) 667-1205 or submit our CONTACT form for a free consultation to discuss your speeding ticket.
"Pacing" is a term used by traffic police officers to describe a method of determining the speed of a vehicle using the police vehicle's speedometer. When an officer is pacing a vehicle, they will position their own vehicle behind or alongside the target vehicle and attempt to match their speed with that vehicle. Once the officer has matched the speed of the target vehicle, they will check their own speedometer to determine the speed of the target vehicle. This method of determining speed is often used in situations where the officer does not have a radar or LIDAR device available or the officer wants to confirm the accuracy of a radar or LIDAR reading. It can also be used to obtain a more accurate reading of a vehicle's speed when the vehicle is traveling at a speed that is close to the limit of the radar or LIDAR device.
BASIC SPEED LAW (Vehicle Code 22350)
California law says that a driver shall not drive "a vehicle upon a highway at a speed that is greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility...and in no event at a speed that endangers the safety of persons or property." The law presumes that the posted speed limit is the "reasonable or prudent" speed. The "basic speed law" is usually the statute that is enforced on city streets.
Defenses to Violating the Basic Speed Law
The posted speed limit serves only as a "presumption" that a speed in excess of the designated limit is unsafe. The posted speed limit is not absolute. Even if you were cited for going over the posted speed limit, you can defeat the presumption that you violated the basic speed law. You or your traffic ticket attorney can make the argument to the traffic court judge that your speed was still reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. For example, if an officer cites you for going 45 mph in a posted 35 mph zone, you may argue that your speed was safe because all of the cars in your lane were also traveling at 45 mph, and it would be unsafe if you were driving slower than them. As another example, you could argue that your speed only exceeded the posted speed limit because you were trying to get around a driver that was driving recklessly.
If the officer used a LIDAR or radar device to determine your speed, or if he made a "visual estimate" of your speed, there must be a valid engineering and traffic survey to justify the posted speed limit. To determine the appropriate speed limit, the city, county, or other state agency examines the road and traffic conditions, including prevailing speeds (e.g., the speeds at which motorists currently travel), accident records, potential hazards, and visibility, and determines what the appropriate speed limit should be. One important factor in setting the limit is that it must be at or within 5 mph below the speed at which 85% of the motorists travel. The use of radar or laser devices on streets with an unjustifiably low speed limit is considered an illegal "speed trap." If the speed limit is not set in accordance with this requirement, e.g. it is too high, then it is illegal. If the traffic survey is over 7 years old, the posted speed limit is illegal. In both of these situations, a good traffic ticket attorney will obtain a dismissal or not guilty verdict in your case. There are exceptions to these requirements. School zones and streets with 15 mph speed limits are not required to have a valid survey to justify the speed limit.
MAXIMUM SPEED LIMITS (Vehicle Code Sections 22348, 22349, 22356)
Unfortunately, the speed trap rules do not apply for violations of maximum speed limits. The officer only needs to prove that you were going faster than the posted speed limit. These tickets are typically issued by the California Highway Patrol on freeways. Officers usually use a radar or laser (LIDAR) device to capture a motorist's speed. These devices must be certified for use by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and be calibrated independently every 3 years. The officer must be certified to use the radar or laser device. Officers also use "pacing" to capture a driver's speed. Pacing occurs when an officer follows behind a vehicle and maintains the same following distance for a period of time. For example, the officer may follow behind a vehicle maintaining a distance of 200 feet. The officer's vehicle speedometer reflects that the officer is traveling at a speed of 90 mph and maintains the 200 feet distance for a period of 5 seconds. The officer will reach the conclusion that the driver was also traveling at 90 mph and will issue the driver a ticket for violating the maximum speed limit. In order to issue a speeding ticket based on pacing, the speedometer in the officer's vehicle must be calibrated to ensure that it is working accurately.
CONTACT A LOS ANGELES TRAFFIC TICKET ATTORNEY
If you have received a speeding ticket, CONTACT our office today for free consultation. Berglund Law Office, P.C. has handled hundreds of traffic ticket infractions, obtaining favorable results for many of our clients.