So I'm fighting this speeding ticket.

Got pulled over for speeding awhile back. The circumstances, 77 in a 60 here in Texas, land of prima facia speed limits. Light traffic, favorable conditions ect. Road was a three lane per direction Interstate highway. Limit increases to 75 about two miles ahead from where I was stopped. Speed determination was with a LIDAR unit that hasn’t been calibrated in about 18 months. I can’t be exact on that right now, all the paperwork is at home.

I’m working on getting a copy of the speed survey from Txdot but they’ll only provide it in response to a freedom of info request as far as I can tell.

I’m a prose defendant in a municipal court of record. My stratagy is to convince the jury that my speed was reasonable under the conditions then present, or at least convince them that a speed higher than 60 was reasonable.

My questions are: how do I submit evidence properly, and what should I ask during voir dire? Any thing I’m not thinking of?

(Standard limitations apply. See reverse side for details. I am not a lawyer, you are not my lawyer. Nothing you say in response will be construed as an attempt to enter into an attorney-client relationship, etc, etc.)

If the citing officer shows up you’re toast. It’ll be a fun experience if this is the first ticket you’ve attempted to fight. If you’ve got the time go ahead. Otherwise, I’d look into deferral. You still pay the fine, but the ticket doesn’t go on your record and therefore doesn’t impact your insurance rates.

I think you’ll be far better off fighting on the basis that the gun hadn’t been calibrated in a year and a half than “I was going 17 over but it’s cool because I was being safe and in 2 miles I wouldn’t have been speeding anyway”. That’s admitting guilt. If you admit guilt there’s no reasonable doubt that you didn’t do it. This doesn’t seem like the time or place to explain why it was okay to break the law, this is when you convince them that you didn’t break the law.

I think something you need to find out is how often their guns are calibrated Is there a standard time from the manufacturer? Does their department require it to be recalibrated from time to time? From there you’ll know right away if it should have been calibrated 16 months ago or if it still has another 2 years left (I have no idea how often it’s done).

I’m sure there’s other ideas, but I can’t imagine going up there and admitting guilt is going to get you anywhere. You’d probably have been better off putting in a plea of No Contest at your first appearance.

Juries are finders of fact, and the only fact at play in this case is whether or not you were exceeding a posted speed limit. What you’re saying is that you intend to admit to this fact and ask the jury to nullify the offense. It seems to me that you don’t need to bother with evidence, but I also don’t see this going well for you.

IANAL but I agree that you’re going to have better luck with the calibration issue than trying to claim you weren’t being unsafe when going that fast. (For one thing, such a defense amounts to an admission of guilt.) BTW, you mentioned making these arguments to a “jury”. In my limited experience and based on every story I’ve ever heard of people arguing speeding tickets, you’re not going to get a jury trial over this, but instead will be making your argument to a judge. One who has heard every argument a thousand times over.

He wasn’t necessarily breaking the law. Note that Texas has prima facie speed limits, as noted in the OP. Exceeding the posted limit is not automatically speeding.

The fact that the posted limit changes in 2 miles might be mitigating (then again, it might be irrelevant).

I agree with the expressed opinion that a defense of, “I was going 17 mph over the posted limit but it was okay because conditions were great”, isn’t an acceptable defense at all, legally. I think you have a shot with the “gun calibration” defense.

Never heard of that.
I’m not sure if it would be worth attempting to show that you weren’t speeding, but if you were, it was okay.

So, with this prima facie speed limit, why would the officer be clocking you? ISTM, they’d only be trying to find your speed if they felt you were going too fast.

Some quick googling shows that you might do best to ask the officer for the calibration certificate. If they can’t find it, the court should rule in your favor. I also saw one item that stated that Texas Peace Officers are required to take CE classes each year, including some on the use of Radar. The idea being that if the officer hasn’t kept up his training, you might be able to show that he may have clocked you incorrectly.

Calibration Record Evidence

Is this a common practice; i.e., juries actually sit for traffic court cases?

I find this genuinely bizarre.

Does the court actually go through a jury selection process for each case or does one jury spend the day in court and rule on multiple cases? Do they actually go to a separate room to deliberate and go over each incident?

I worked with the foremost expert in fighting LIDAR arrests. He never lost a case he testified in. One thing I remember: check the distance you were clocked at. Each type of LIDAR unit is certified for a maximum distance. If you are over that distance, the gun evidence is not admissible. You will have to determine that from listed specs for the unit. Back then the main unit was the LDI 20-20.

The 18 month calibration date is odd. Perhaps that refers to some factory adjustments. LIDAR units are checked every time they are used. The officer pulls up to a marked line and rests the unit on the door of the patrol car. He aims at a pole some specified distance away. In addition to reading the correct distance, he checks the gun vertically and horizontally to make sure the cross hairs are zeroed. Even this simple procedures has problems, it was a favorite topic to cross examine when my friends was in court but you would need to be an expert witness to address this.

Dennis

I sort of won a similar case in New Hampshire a few years ago. I prolonged the case for two years by saying I was traveling for work when they scheduled the hearings. When I finally showed up, the officer (not the one that stopped me) asked me to plead down and I rejected everything until he got to the obscure offense of 3 - 5 miles per hour over the limit with no insurance points. I took that one because it was cheaper than showing up to trial at a later date. You could try something like that.

I think your best bet is to ask the judge to exclude evidence of the radar gun based on improper calibration. It’s not reliable evidence, violates the state regulations, whatever.
I’m not sure the jury would care much about such “technicalities” unless they wanted an excuse to let you off anyway (I can see a juror thinking, “Maybe it was calibrated wrong, but I doubt it was off 17 mph.”)

Generally, I think you should either admit you were going 77 and argue it was reasonable and prudent given the conditions, or dispute that argue they can’t prove you were going that fast. I wouldn’t do both in front of a jury. (i.e, “They can’t prove I was going 77, but if I was, it was perfectly safe”)

Another vote for not arguing that you going 77 was reasonable, you were 17MPH over the limit and no amount of arguing is going to change that. The court and officer doesn’t set the speed limits they just enforce them.

Talk to legislators and/or DOT about that.

As noted I wasn’t necessarily breaking the law, it’s just that now the burden of proof is on me. Or atleast that’s how I read that prima facie speed limits work.

The fact that the speed limit changes is important to me becuase the road construction and design is the same in two miles as where I was clocked, both of which I think would dictate speed. I’m trying to get the speed surveys to help as well but TXdot is making it difficult.
He clocked me as I descended from a bridge maybe a couple hundred - 300,feet ahead. He was on shoulder and I was three lanes to the left.

They clock becuase most people pay and you’re presumed to be traveling faster than safe and reasonable if you’re above the posted limit.

When I get home I’ll pull the model number and manual as well as training records and see what I’ve got. Still gotta figure out how to properly present the evidence so it makes it to court.

This is my first speeding ticket to fight and its kinda interesting. I couldn’t take deferred due to my cdl so I’m just kinda hoping for the best or at least hoping to learn something.

Stay away from the raw numbers. 15+ over the limit sounds inflammatory. Rather, approach it with a ratio of actual speed vs. posted speed.

32 is 128% of 25 – Does anyone really think 32 is unreasonably faster to an experienced driver than 25?
77 is 128% of 60 – Keeping in mind a freeway is engineered for higher speeds with regard to visibility and pavement than a neighborhood street, is a similar ratio not just as reasonable? Given 75 is an available speed limit on certain stretches of most freeways, it’s arguably even more reasonable than doing 32 in a 25.
But anyway, if I were to get called in for jury duty because someone wanted to contest a speeding ticket I’d push for guilty as charged and probably also manslaughter for good measure. You want how much of my time, as well as a handful of other people’s time, just to avoid taking responsibility for something which you are in all likelihood guilty of? Doom on you, who in the hell do you think you are? Etc.

:confused: I thought “prima facie” meant the posted limit was the MAXIMUM, and that “safe and reasonable” exceptions were for the use of an arresting officer in deciding to cite excessive speed for conditions at a LOWER speed than posted.

Huh. Maybe it only means that in California. My last time in traffic school was over twenty years ago.

If the couple of random blurbs on the internet I read are correct, there’s a difference between checking it and calibrating it. Yes, they check it before they use it, in whatever way gives them the ability to say that it works to the best of their knowledge, but that’s not the same as sending it out and having it calibrated.

If they clocked you by pacing you, you’d want to know that their speedometer has been properly calibrated by a shop certified in doing so, not the officer’s word that him and another officer drove next to each other and both of their speedos said 35.


https://www.drivinglaws.org/resources/traffic-tickets/speed-violations/texas-speeding-laws.htm

None of this speaks to how easy it is to convince a judge or jury that 78 in a 60 is reasonable and proper, but it is possible.

Inigo has a valid point. You may get a jury filled with people pissed off at having to waste their time on your speeding ticket. Don’t waste their time. Hit your points then move on. Thank god we don’t have jury trials for traffic here.

There is no need to put your eggs in one basket. You can ask about the calibration and also argue your prima facia case. I would suggest you don’t ask questions that you don’t know the answers to. The last calibration was 18 months ago. And? What is the requirement in your state? What are the requirements for your specific brand of laser? Unlike Radar most LIDAR manufacturers don’t require any periodic factory calibration. There are probably before and after use checks by the officer. Know what those requirements are before you get to court.

IANAL but this is true in my court. You can’t just present your argument for a prima facia defense directly to the court or the jury. It has to be presented as testimony. You the pro se attorney can not directly testify. You either have to make the argument through your questioning of witnesses or you the defendant has to testify. Your testimony can take the form of a statement. You don’t have to ask yourself questions. But that means you will be cross examined. Most likely the last thing the jury will hear is you admitting under cross examination that you were speeding.