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Guess My Speed and Give Me a Ticket, In Ohio 636

Posted by timothy
from the well-it-sounded-really-fast dept.
quall writes "The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that police may estimate your car's speed and issue a ticket if they believe you were speeding. The hearing threw out a radar gun as evidence because the officer was not qualified to use it, but apparently his guess was good enough. If you make your way into Ohio, I suggest driving 5mph under the speed limit because this leaves little room to dispute your ticket in court. The only chance you have is if the issuing officer decides to skip your hearing." I wonder whether the court would also accept a driver's own GPS log as exculpatory evidence.
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Guess My Speed and Give Me a Ticket, In Ohio

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  • by NervousWreck (1399445) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:46PM (#32451208)
    Yeah, but back then speeding tickets were a) not very common (according to people who were driving then) b) rarely paid because hearings degenerated into a lot of "did not" - "did too" ing. (educated guess plus anecdotes) c) not very high (matter of public record)
  • No real difference (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:47PM (#32451224)

    I'm from Ohio. I once got pulled over, and though I was speeding (and quite excessively), the officer didn't radar me. He wasn't legally allowed to write me a ticket for speeding so he just gave me a ticket for reckless operation. The speeding ticket would actually have been cheaper and put less points on my license. Bottom line: this doesn't change much.

  • Old News (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@EEEgmail.com minus threevowels> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:55PM (#32451322)
    I have a good bit of family in law enforcement up in Illinois. This is SOP for officers up there. When they go through their training, speed estimation is one of the things they are taught, for things such as radar malfunctions and times where they are not in their car, (ie foot / bike / segway patrol). If they see somebody who "looks" like they are doing double the speed limit, based on the cars they are blowing by, then they can cite / arrest them on their powers of guesstimation alone. This has been around for awhile, but apparently only newsworthy until now.

    Not saying I agree with the practice, but lets not blow this out of proportion as there is nothing new under the sun. Precedent shows that the officers word is statistically more "trusted" than yours by the judges, and thems the ropes, folks. Sigh...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:55PM (#32451324)

    Bullshit. I often drive in slow speed areas, going slow but at high RPM, because I don't want to upshift. As I go down the street at 25 or less, I see people's heads perk up at the sound. It sounds like I'm going fast - or "zooming" around - but I'm not.

    Moreover, studies have shown time and again that people estimate the speed of a passing car with wildly different estimates.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:00PM (#32451404) Journal

    We still have that in Ohio, but it's a little more high tech. It involves a helicopter and painted lines at certain distances on the road. (The helicopter makes it more high tech.)

    Though, this isn't what the story is about. I can't believe the SC voted it a valid technique. Now we have to have our lawyers figure out if a police officer is properly trained to issue tickets by guessing... I'm hoping there's a way to overturn this decision. (Yes, I'm claiming ignorance on how my government works in this regard.)

  • by Jenming (37265) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:00PM (#32451416)

    If you are driving the speed limit it is trivial to tell if someone else is speeding without the use of a radar gun.
    1) I am going 10 miles over the speed limit.
    2) That person just passed me.
    3) Is that person speeding? Not much of a gray area really.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:10PM (#32451542)

    plus court costs -- at least $100 if not more

  • Don't visit NC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loki.TJ (959555) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:11PM (#32451554)

    I was written a ticket by a detective one morning. It was for 4mph over the limit. There was no traffic on the 5 lane road and I was in a business suit. After he left, I realized he had written the ticket to me, but was for a Ford Mustang. I drive a Dodge Charger.

    So the court date rolled around and I showed up in court. The DA comes over and asks if I want to plead it down to an equipment violation. I tell him that wouldn't be legal as I didn't have any equipment violations and the detective wrote the ticket to the wrong type of vehicle.

    The DA walks over to the detective and proceeds to have him write me a new ticket, making the change to the type of vehicle to reflect what I was driving. This was after the DA looked up my DMV records to find the correct type of vehicle.

    We go in front of the judge and I have to question the detective. I ask him if he used a radar gun to clock me, which he didn't. I asked him if he was qualified to write tickets based on "pacing". He wasn't. I asked him if he knew how far down the road in either direction the speed limits changed. He didn't. This was relevant because I had just entered a 45 mph area from a 55 mph area.

    The judge got tired of me reaming the detective and says "I really don't care what evidence you have, you're paying for the ticket. Dismissed." That was the end of that. Traffic court is a joke.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:20PM (#32451662) Homepage Journal
    By my experience you don't get to see any information on the radar until you show up to contest your ticket. At which point so much time has passed that you can't really be sure that the allegation hasn't been tampered with anyways.

    Nonetheless fighting speeding tickets isn't that hard. In all my years of driving I have been issued tickets twice. Both times I went to court at the appointed time to contest the charge (two different counties of the same state, a few years apart). Both times because my record was clean I was offered a plea bargain - with "probationary" terms where they agreed not to report the violation as long as I was not pulled over in their county again for X number of months (or years I don't remember now). Either way I paid the plea bargain fine (one case lower another case higher than the citation) and was not pulled over again in the issuing county. For that matter, one of those counties I have never returned to since ...
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:37PM (#32451868)

    I've been stopped for suspicion of DUI before. Well, not stopped. I was standing outside my car talking to friends when the police showed up. The officer driving down the road, seeing us stopped and talking, could estimate my blood alcohol content. I've also been told I looked like I was going to buy drugs; speeding (without actually driving); and thinking about robbing a closed store (with my car parked in front, under a street light, on a busy street).

    Can you please let us know where you live, so we can be sure to avoid that place?

  • by Dr Herbert West (1357769) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:38PM (#32451874)
    Word of advice-- don't be running out of state plates in Ohio (they particularly have a hard-on for Illinois plates for some reason). One time I got three moving violation tickets within a half an hour while driving to Cedar Point.
    Only state I've ever got a ticket for a "reckless lane change" when I was the only car on the road. It's also the only state I got a ticket for a "reckless right turn"-- you know, a right turn on a red light on a deserted street.
    Ohio can suck it. The people are great, but small town cops have nothing to do but hassle the out of towners. I get the same vibe when driving thru small towns in south texas.
  • by jeko (179919) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:39PM (#32451898)

    Before radar guns, the police generally had to match your speed over 1/4 mile to issue a speeding ticket.

    Needless to say, a lot fewer speeding tickets were written. The radar gun's debut in the 70s led to the exact same discussion we're having now with red light cams. They actually made the roads less safe, but they were a revenue godsend, so they became the norm.

  • Happened to me in MO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jluxe (200281) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:46PM (#32452000)

    A similar situation happened to me in Missouri. I was going at a good clip on a short road, and I got onto the highway before they could get the radar gun out. Eventually they pulled me over (I was going exactly the speed limit at that moment), and issued me a ticket for *exceeded* the speed limit. I asked what my supposed speed was when I broke the limit, and they said that only applied if you are *exceeding* the speed limit. So they didnt list my speed, just that I had broken the posted limit.
    I'm not sure what the difference was, but I had my lawyer fix it anyway.

  • Re:Juries? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:53PM (#32452068)

    In the few jurisdictions that I have direct experience in, you are essentially agreeing to waive your right to a jury trial in exchange for lower court costs.

    Wow. I know that it's fairly common to scream 1984 here but this time I gotta point to Brazil.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKcMDFKSLcI [youtube.com]

  • Re:Don't visit NC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:40PM (#32452566) Journal
    Your story would be a lot more impressive if you had said, "he pulled me over, even though I wasn't actually speeding." All the stories I've heard of people fighting tickets and failing then getting upset at the court system are people who actually were speeding.

    I'm not saying that it never happens, but I'll bet it's relatively rare.
  • by swb (14022) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:47PM (#32452638)

    The Minneapolis suburb of Edina is fairly notorious for speed enforcement.

    Now I recognize that law enforcement is not a for-profit business (on paper at least...) but given the limited resources available for law enforcement and the unlimited amount of crime there's still a cost-benefit argument to make.

    What often amazes me, though, is seeing them occasionally use up to *five* squad cars at a time. It gets me wondering how much money its costing them relative to how much they make back in fines.

    Because they are a wealthy suburb, they have pretty state of the art squad cars. Assuming a fully equipped squad car runs about $75,000 including everything stuffed inside (from emergency gear & weapons in the trunk to lights, sirens, and other upgrades or add-ons), five cars on the side of the road is a $375,000 capital asset not to mention 5 police officers @ $100/hour each or whatever it costs the city in salary, benefits and overhead to employ them.

    You could be looking at $1000/hour to run that speed trap in men and equipment without coming nearly that close to writing enough tickets to pay for it.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @08:08PM (#32452854)
    How do you build rapport with some random cop you've never met before writing you a speeding ticket? That doesn't make sense.

    Because the first time he approaches you to ask for your license, he may not have made up his mind whether he's citing you or not. It may very well depend on whether you act like an asshole who deserves whatever happens to him, or if you act like someone who might be a nextdoor neighbor and worth cutting some slack.

    Yeah, sometimes they will have decided that you're getting a ticket before they even speak to you, but even then, being pleasant and reasonable can get you 65 in a 55 instead of the 80 you were actually doing.

    The last time I got stopped for speeding, I didn't rant and fume about damn pigs and speed traps. I explained that it wasn't likely that I was the target they measured because I was behind a pickup truck for the last three miles stuck at the speed limit and there was a dufus who had passed both of us about a minute ago. They looked down the road, saw the taillights of a pickup in the distance, and said "have a nice day."

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @08:10PM (#32452884) Homepage Journal

        I don't lie. The truth is fucked up enough.

        some info on the local statute [justanswer.com].

        In talking to locals, there are signs scattered around the county which state "no parking on any roads at any time".

  • Re:GPS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Technician (215283) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @08:23PM (#32453014)

    When you do show up in court with your GPS log, tell the judge that the GPS log is generally easy to verify if it has been falsified. Ask them to give it to their computer science guy to look for any signs of tampering. The record of the sattelite locations, the time of day, the locations, the time stamps, speed time distance, etc will provide evidence of tampering. Point out that a forgery is very hard to make with all those factors in place. It is up to them to prove their case against you. It is up to them to prove any errors in your GPS log.

    Be sure to point out the number of satelites in the sky at the time of the stop, the margin of error, the base accuracy, the DOD calibration is monitored 24/7, etc. If the mobile is out of cal, it is out of sync and would not provide a valid fix. A valid fix is confirmation of calibration. If they doubt your statement of certification, ask them to verify it with the DOD and device manufacture. The base accuracy is generally +/- 1 on the LSD or 0.1 MPH. It does not have the parallax error of the officer's radar which you question to the max at this point along with the radar's known error modes, including mirrors, angle, angle correction, etc. It's your certification against their's and your operator skill against theirs.

    You can show much more margin of error in both operator and equipment setup and calibration than they can show in your GPS log. Unless the judge is crooked or a technophobe, the GPS record is hard to discredit.

  • Re:Judges... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @09:25PM (#32453500) Homepage Journal

    In my case (in Ohio) it was low flying aircraft measuring the distance and an officer at the side of the road waving me to pull over based on the results (along with several other drivers and a patrol car at the side for those who chose not to stop...).

    I was pretty bothered by what I saw as a cheap stunt for money, so I went to court on the principal of it, after reading up on speeding ticket defense and the city's speed ordinance at the local University Library. Present at the hearing was the officer at the side of the road and the assistant city prosecutor. Here's a nut-shell of how it went:

    Prosecutor to police officer: How fast was the defendant going?
    Officer: The defendant was clocked at --
    Me: Objection, your honor.
    Judge: Yes, young man?
    Me: The officer doesn't know how fast I was going. Based on the complaint issued to me in writing here, he was relying on an aircraft pilot's measurements. The pilot is not here; that makes the officer's testimony hearsay.
    (Prosecutor approaches Judge after talking with officer)
    Judge: Young man, would you agree to an extension 10 days from now until the pilot can be summoned?
    Me: Respectfully, no, your honor. That date would put the hearing beyond the 30 day time-line for disposal of this case, which is the end of this week.
    Judge: young man, would you like your case dismissed?
    Me: yes, your honor.
    Judge: case dismissed.

    Know the basics of the law in your case. Sometimes it can end up being on your side, as long as your willing and able to take the time to research it and appear in court.

  • by drmerope (771119) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:44PM (#32454310)

    This whole story is strange. Courts have always recognized that Cops can ticket you based on "passing markers"--yes they need only count off the seconds between those little reflectors on the side of the road.

    This is considered indisputable if the officer has passed a certification test.

    Officers will routinely write, "passing markers" because its subjects them to the least review by the courts.

    Other backwards ideas: if Cops use 'stationary radar' they need to do a bunch of work to ascertain whether it is working correctly--it takes two patrol units: the stationary one and the reference vehicle. But, none of this is necessary if they use moving radar!

    But moving radar is next to meaningless (cosin error) without careful regulation of the setting which is only required... for stationary radar.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:20AM (#32457328)
    The arguments against this aren't that it isn't possible to estimate a vehicle's speed. The problem is that's infinitely easier for the Cop to be a dick and screw you over even if you *weren't* speeding at all.

    Ability to challenge your accuser in court and all that. If a Cop 'felt' you were speeding, how exactly do you defend yourself against that?
  • by morgauxo (974071) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:27AM (#32457386)
    Two problems with this

    How often are the officers re-certified?

    Who keeps the officers accountable? One person's word alone doesn't prove anything. I don't care that it is a police officer, they are people just like the rest of us. They have bad days, prejudices, just don't like some people etc...

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