speeding tickets -- several questions

I have a few questions about speeding tickets, based on a conversation I had with a friend the other night. Neither of us knew the answers, so trying here.

1 – can police use radar guns to give you a speeding ticket at night? I know they can tail you and get a speed reading that way, but not sure how easy/accurate the guns are in darkness.

2 – can police stop on private property and set up a speed trap from there? Cops like haging out at an apartment complex in my neighborhood and catching speeders from it. No, I haven’t been caught there. But I always figured it’s questionable at best to do that on private property. Do they need the owner’s permission?

3 – can police officers be hidden when giving tickets? That is, behind a billboard, a building, etc? Or must they be in plain sight to the drivers they are targeting?

4 – do radar detectors actually work? Or with modern instant-on technology on radar guns, by the time the detectors go off does that mean you’ve already been caught and it’s too late?

Thanks for any info. Again, just doing this out of curiosity. Not trying to get out of a ticket. =)

Yeah, no problem. Radar works by transmitting a radio signal - this is unaffected by the presence or absense of sunlight. The newer laser units would also be unaffected, but it might be more difficult for the officer to aim at your car in the dark.

These vary from state to state. Where I work, neither of these would be a problem as far as the tickets are concerned. A property owner could complain about the officer parking on his or her property and prohibit this, though.

Well, they do work, but as you said they usually work far too late. I never drive around with my RADAR unit on - I always use the instant-on feature. They might help you if an officer is set up running stationary RADAR with the unit left on.

Another question, how does rain/fog effect radar?

I have heard that the way to correctly use radar detectors is to follow someone who is going the speed that you wish to travel. The theory being that if you both accidently drift above the speed limit the cop will use his radar on the first car, the reflected beam will set off your radar detector and you know to look at your speed and if needed slow down :wink:

Truckers sometimes call those guys “bear bait”. :wink:

In addition to the above.

  1. All states, cities, counties, etc. own what is called the “right of way”, besides the actual roadway it also includes up to 30 feet of each side of the road. this is where utilities are run, sidewalks are built, or in my case, the county has a ditch. Property owners are allowed to build driveways through these right of ways. In many instances when you see an officer parked in a driveway, they will claim they are parked in the right of way and can be there.

  2. Police can use any natural obstruction. They cannot hide there vehicles by using tree brances, boxes, or anything that must be moved into place. Some states also restrict traffic enforcement to marked police cars and have visibility requirements, some don’t.
    racer72 who has spent way too much time sitting in on traffic court the past 5 years just for fun…

I call it a “rabbit”. Find a rabbit, keep him just in sight, and you should be fine.

Radar detectors do work, and they work flawlessly. Now, let me qualify that: if your radar detector goes off, it is definitely receiving a radar signal. The question is, does that signal come from a police car? Is the radar actually pointed at you? Does the detector warn you in time to avoid a ticket? Those questions are a lot more difficult to answer.

If you have to speed, speed smart. Use your radar detector all the time, even in the city where you live (that’s where you drive the most, so why would you not use it there?), and learn where the radar traps are usually set and where the false positives are. Watch the road ahead, not only for radar traps but also for obstructions and road features that could hide a police car. Slow down before you go around a curve or through an underpass, where you can’t clearly see the road for a long distance ahead. Such areas make good hiding places for radar cops.

And whenever possible, find a rabbit.

Previous thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=369806

Who told you that? It’s incorrect. At least around here it is.

Thanks, everyone. For the info and the previous link.

Fog pretty much just cuts down on the range. Depending on how heavy the rain is, it may completely keep it from working at all.

Since I work in Western Washington state, I deal with this all the time!

One other thing about radar detectors - if a cop sees one on your dashboard, he will probably write you a ticket for whatever you were stopped for (even if he or she would otherwise just give you a warning). That’s because we assume that you’ve used the detector to get out of plenty of tickets before.

At one time we had a first generation LTI 20/20 laser gun. Cars with their brights on significantly reduced it’s range (by over half). We haven’t had that gun in over 12 years. I’m willing to bet that the newer lasers don’t suffer from that.

Oh, God… I have a sneaking suspicion that a this has attained the status of an urban legend (“Having your brights on fools radar”) and that’s why these @$$%*!#$ keep blinding me by driving with their brights on all the time.

If you are caught speeding would the officer be required to give you the make and model of the device he used to clock you, if you asked?

I don’t think he’d be required to provide this information. If you decided to fight the ticket in court though, you can bet that he would be able to provide this information to the judge. From what I’ve seen they provide this information plus the calibration date as a routine part of their testimony.

On a related note, does anyone know if a police officer can write a ticket for speeding when he wasn’t the one measuring your speed? I’ve seen an officer with a laser sitting in one spot, and about 6 patrol cars down the road giving tickets to cars. I thought that the ticket had to be signed by the officer who measured the speed, as otherwise it would be based on hearsay evidence.

I know this is part of some of those “Beat that ticket!” websites and books. Supposedly, both officers have to come to court if you decide to fight it (thus increasing your chances of the judge throwing it out), otherwise the one who pulled you over can’t verify it was you who was clocked, and the one who clocked you can’t verify … something. No idea if it’s legit, but some folks seem to think so.

Hearsay is a rule of evidence–for court proceedings. It doesn’t prevent the police from working together. Nor does it prevent officers from making arrests or writing tickets (under most circumstances) based on events that they did not personally witness. They do it all the time in accident cases. The rule might come into play if the officer who wrote the ticket was the only one to testify.

Q: How fast did the radar gun show the defendant was going?
A: Well officer Jones was reading the gun and he said . . . .
Objection. Your honor, this is an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Rule 801 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rules.htm#Rule801) says that’s hearsay, and Rule 802 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rules.htm#Rule802) says it is inadmissible.

OTOH, the prosecution could take advantage of some hearsay exceptions. This one being the most likely:


Or the prosecution could simply call the officer who actually read the gun.

Same deal works with air patrols. The bear in the air clocks a speeder, usually with the aid of pavement markings, then radios down to the cruiser to tag you. Once the citation makes its way to the court, both the ticketing officer and arresting officer have signed off on it.

Laws regarding radar guns and such vary lot from one area to another. Check the laws in your local jurisdictions.

I once lived in a state that at the time: 1. Forbade using radar guns at night. 2. Cops using radar guns had to be in fully marked cars. That was a long time ago so I don’t know if it is still the rule there.

No posts here are going to be of help unless they are addressed to your specific state, county and town.

Only light wouldn’t affect radar (laser isn’t the same as radar). We got that laser gun in about 1991 & got rid of it circa 1994. If anyone has experience with more modern laser, I’m wondering if the range is still cut down by lights.

I got out of a ticket for exactly this reason. The officer who wrote the ticket was present, and when it came time for her to testify, she just said, “The state has no case, your honor,” because the radar operator was sick. (BTW, I was stopped at night.)

This is just another reason to always plead Not Guilty.

(After the trial, I asked the officer to give the radar officer my best wishes for a speedy recovery.)