LEGALESE — Speeding

speedometerAs a traffic court judge, I often hear people try to defend their speeding cases by saying, “There was no way I was going that fast.”  This isn’t a particularly good defense.

Police officers who are trained on laser and radar devices are also trained on the visual estimation of speed, and in order to pass they have to be able to estimate speed within two or three miles per hour.  A police “officer’s estimate of speed is sufficient to support a conviction on a speeding violation.”  Lafavor v. State, A15A0902 (Ga. App. 2015). [Citations omitted.]  That is not to say that all officers are credible, but, generally speaking, but not always, the officer has less incentive to take a day out of his or her life (inevitably, it seems, Court gets scheduled right after an officer has worked a night shift) and sit in a courtroom to make up a jacked-up speeding charge than a defendant does to get out of having to pay a ticket.

In fact, so long as you are going faster than the posted speed limit, it doesn’t matter how much faster you were going.  “In order to be guilty of speeding, one need only exceed the designated speed limit.  And in prosecuting someone for speeding, the State need not prove that a driver was traveling at a precise rate of speed in order to obtain a conviction for speeding.  In fact, greater speeds by specified increment affect only the punishment are therefore not material allegations to prove the crime of speeding.”  Id.  [Citations omitted.]  So, if the posted speed is 45, it doesn’t matter if you were going ‘only’ 52 or if you were going 62.  You were still going faster than the posted speed limit, and are therefore guilty of speeding.  How fast you were going is only relevant for what the fine is going to be and how many points go on your license.

Of course, laser and radar provide more information, and laser is particularly specific.  The laser gun, when operated, has a red dot that shows up on the car whose speed it is clocking, so there is no mistaking which car is being clocked.  It can also be done from quite far away, so if you hit the brakes when you see the police officer’s car, you’ve probably already been zapped prior to your car slowing down any.

That isn’t to say that you can’t ever beat a speeding ticket or that you won’t ever win at trial.  Whenever human beings are involved in a process, there is the opportunity for human error, and machines are only as good as the input placed into them by humans.  There are a lot of technical requirements that must be met prior to the speed detection device evidence can be used.  That said, the Georgia Court of Appeals has said that “laser-speed-detection-device evidence was merely cumulative of the officer’s testimony, and its admission did not in reasonable probability affect the outcome of the trial.”  Id.  [Citations omitted.]  This means that it is just difficult because speed detection device evidence is not necessary to prove speeding because a credible officer’s estimate of speed can be enough for conviction, even if the officer can’t provide a precise speed.

This article was written by a lawyer, but should not be considered legal advice in any way, shape, or form.  It is written for general (and generally vague) informational purposes only.  In order to properly evaluate your case, a lawyer must examine all the facts and circumstances that are particular and personal to your situation.  I have not done that here.

About Lori Duff 352 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."

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