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

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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  • " issue a ticket if they believe "

    I think there's a law against that.

    • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:05PM (#32451474) Homepage

      There's a law against waiting till the cop is walking to your car, then put it in reverse, crank the wheel, floor it and flatten the crooked bastard, as well. The same sort of problem cropped up in Louisiana. Cops were targeting out of state tags and towing cars to impound for further inspection, even if you were speeding. Then you pay inflated rates for impound and your belongings were probably stolen and there would never be an investigation. So don't defend yourself against tyranny and injustice from crooked law enforcement by killing as many of the cockroaches as you can.
      That would be illegal. But then so is jaywalking.

    • by DarrenBaker ( 322210 ) <> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:18PM (#32451650) Homepage

      Oh, no, don't worry - vehicular law has a get-out-of-jail-free card (pun soundly intended) in that, because automobile operation and licencing are a regulated activity, your rights don't extend to cover it. Hence why RIDE programs are legal, hence why so-called 'routine' traffic stops are legal. It's a nice grey area that your local cops live to bask in.

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

      by jluxe ( 200281 )

      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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by justin12345 ( 846440 )
        My ex got pulled over for "breaking the speed limit" based on the sound her car made. She was driving a 15 year old Toyota with a rusted out muffler. She was turning right onto a throughway from a dead stop at a stop sign. The cop was at the next cross street and pulled her over immediately. Based on the maximum acceleration of her car according to Toyota and the distance between the streets according to a map, it was physically impossible for her to be speeding where he claimed she was, even if she had the
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bi$hop ( 878253 )
      There is a law against this, and it's one of the laws of physics.

      I see no problem letting them guess my speed as long as they make an *educated* guess. I'm sure most of them have degrees in physics or mathematics anyway. They're probably just working temporarily as cops because they're in-between university research projects. They'll probably be using this equation: Vxf = xi + Vxi(t)
  • by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:43PM (#32451156)

    that most of the judge's wages are paid from speeding fines?

  • Next Stop: Murder! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BarryJacobsen ( 526926 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:44PM (#32451166) Homepage
    Look, just because there are no missing people, no unaccounted for deaths, or any evidence of any shape or form doesn't mean you didn't commit murder. I mean, you LOOK like a murderer. A trained police officer can't be wrong...
    • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jwsmy[ ].com ['the' in gap]> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:57PM (#32451352) Homepage Journal

          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).

          Just a couple nights ago, I was (to the best of my knowledge) parked legally. I came out of where I was visiting, and saw a patrol car stopped in the road with his spot light aimed at a house across the street. I got in my car, and started the engine. The patrol car pulled up and he rolled down the window. "You weren't going to drive off while I'm running your plates, were you?" My plates?

          I played along nicely. I told him I'd wait while he did, and provided my license. In talking to him, it's illegal to park along any road in the county, even though it's not posted anywhere, and it's done all the time.

          Then we started having a nice conversation.

          We talked some more, and he said a lot of times when they spot a car parked on the side of the road in that area, it means someone's robbing a house, and they left the car in the road for a quick getaway. He was feeling me out to see if I had intended to rob someone, or if I was just leaving a friends place.

          He then warned me that besides being against the law, about half the time when they try to do a traffic stop in that area, the person will run, and that doesn't usually end nicely. Cars parked on the side of the road frequently get hit. He liked my car, and didn't want to see it damaged.

          Now he knows what I look like, and what my car is. If someone else is messing with my car, they'll get stopped. He knows I'm one of the "good guys", so it's less likely I'll be messed with.

      • by masmullin ( 1479239 ) <> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:15PM (#32451612)

        You post like a briber. Im hauling you in!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

        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 b

    • by Ambitwistor ( 1041236 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:10PM (#32451548)

      It's not analogous to condemning a person for "looking wrong". It's eyewitness testimony as evidence of a person's actions: "It looked like you were speeding" is analogous to "It looked like you stabbed that guy". Yes, eyewitness judgment can be wrong, but eyewitness judgment is not the same as "you look evil therefore you are guilty".

      "You look like a murderer" is more analogous to "you look like a speeder". It is quite different from "it looked like you were speeding", and has nothing to do with the case being discussed here.

  • So much for a fair trial.

    So by now, who hasnt wiped their ass off with the bill of rights?

  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CosaNostra Pizza Inc ( 1299163 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:45PM (#32451186)
    If he can't be trained to use a radar gun properly, then he's not qualified to guess what speed a vehicle is travelling...IMO.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jack2000 ( 1178961 )
      What is he doing being in the travel police when he can't use a radar gun. That man should either be forced to attend classes or BE FIRED.
      • by RobVB ( 1566105 )

        That man should either be forced to attend classes or BE FIRED.

        Out of a cannon, into the sun.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      There two completely different things, don't confuse them.

      Just because you are certified to use a Radar gun doesn't mean you can estimate speeds. What you need to do is a bumper check.

    • From the article, he went to some kind of training school where they taught him to consistently estimate the speed of cars to within a few MPH. He could not, however, produce a certificate showing that he was certified to use a radar gun. I didn't know it was that hard. I also didn't know they trained officers to accurately estimate the speed of the car.

      The problem here isn't the estimation, it's that we have to rely on the word of the cops. Which is kind of bad, because cops are known to lie. But
  • GPS (Score:5, Informative)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jwsmy[ ].com ['the' in gap]> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:45PM (#32451190) Homepage Journal

        It's doubtful that you could show an appropriate chain of evidence with the GPS. It's easily argued that you tampered with any such evidence.

        Ticketing for illegal speeds is pretty easy, most people confess to it.

        "Do you know why I pulled you over?"
        "I was speeding."
        "I saw you doing 80mph"
        "Yes sir, that's about right. I'm sorry."

        Voila, instant ticket for 80mph, and a confession to back it up.

        I did the opposite. You never *KNOW* why the officer stops you. You may have been speeding. He may be pulling you over for a burned out taillight, or your vehicle may match a description of one seen at a crime scene, or it may even match the description of a vehicle from a missing persons case. Don't guess.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's doubtful that you could show an appropriate chain of evidence with the GPS. It's easily argued that you tampered with any such evidence.

      Ticketing for illegal speeds is pretty easy, most people confess to it.

      "Do you know why I pulled you over?" "I was speeding." "I saw you doing 80mph" "Yes sir, that's about right. I'm sorry."

      Voila, instant ticket for 80mph, and a confession to back it up.

      I did the opposite. You never *KNOW* why the officer stops you. You may have been speeding. He may be pulling you over for a burned out taillight, or your vehicle may match a description of one seen at a crime scene, or it may even match the description of a vehicle from a missing persons case. Don't guess.

      Amen to that. Any conversation with a police officer should start with you saying "Evening officer, what seems to be the trouble?" - don't offer anything up, ever.

    • Re:GPS (Score:4, Informative)

      by chadplusplus ( 1432889 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:59PM (#32451392)

      That's the point of establishing a evidentiary foundation. You testify under oath as to: 1) Here's the process by how I acquired it; and 2) the printout is a fair and accurate representation of the data contained in my GPS log. While it may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, that's the basic gist of it. Most judges I've appeared before were rather lax with evidentiary issues.

      If the cop wants to challenge the validity of it, he can certainly do that on cross examination - or even voir dire before the logs are admitted as evidence. I would be amazed though, if the cop knew enough law to be able to effectively challenge its admission.

      Unfortunately, and this goes back to the earlier post about videoing police during official stops, the old school judges seem to have a presumption in favor of police, so its an uphill battle regardless. Your closing argument would have to be along the lines of: a) I like cops; b) they're good for society; c) they would never intentionally lie and mistakes are rare, BUT THEY DO HAPPEN; etc...

      The above, while it is general legal information, does not constitute legal advice. No one should rely upon the above statements and no attorney-client relationship has been established thereby. If you have been charged with a crime, you should immediately consult a local attorney.

    • Re:GPS (Score:5, Informative)

      by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:26PM (#32451742) Journal
      More than that: in another appeals case [] (Warning: PDF) in the State of Ohio (coincidence?), GPS evidence presented by the defendant was specifically and intentionally disregarded [] by the appellate judge. Apparently, GPS wasn't precise enough (average speed over an interval instead of instantaneous speed), and the appellant's use of supporting evidence downloaded from the Internet didn't help. (Protip: Wikipedia is not admissible in any court of law.)
    • Watch this! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PinkyGigglebrain ( 730753 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:26PM (#32452410)
      This is a great intro to why you should never talk to police. You have to show ID but you do not have to answer any questions
      Got this link off another /. story awhile back and bookmarked it because it is valid and useful.

      Never talk to Police []

      In a nut shell, the police will take what ever you say and use it against you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ShakaUVM ( 157947 )

        You need to throw a large "I ANAL" tag on that post of your's, buddy.

        Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. When I lived in SF, the court upheld the right for police to casually chat with people and take it further if they found the person suspicious and they failed to answer the questions satisfactorily. Might have been in regards to anti-vagrancy laws, but basically upheld the right of police to talk with people going about their business on the streets.

    • 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.

  • Thanks but in light of this, I'll make a huge detour.
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nschubach ( 922175 )

      Ugh, I got a reckless op once in Illinois... I "changed lanes too fast". The court didn't even see it. they had some administrator tell me I was wrong because they knew the officer was a "fair man." I moved back to Ohio because I've had better experience here... but apparently we are getting as bad as IL.

  • Sometimes they are not set with their radar but a driver is going way too fast for the situation and the fact is obvious to any observer. Cops in motorbikes without radar come to mind, for example. They should have a way to ticket that driver. The problem, obviously, is the gray area. How fast is too fast? Is too fast if they estimate the driver is 50% faster than the limit?

    Perhaps a common sense solution to that kind of situation would be just to stop the driver. The mere fact of stopping someone is usual

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jenming ( 37265 )

      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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Observation based on a single eyewitness account who is biased against the accused (as the accuser).

      Clearly Ohio doesn't subscribe to the concept of "presumption of innocence" i.e. "proof".

  • Old News (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cosm ( 1072588 ) <> 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...
  • would accept this type of citation.

    It hardly meets the burden of "beyond a reasonable doubt".

    I'm surprised it made it as far as it did. I hope the Ohio Supreme Court isn't an elected body — or their jobs will all be on the chopping block next election day!
  • This is the kind of thing where I would really want a jury trial for a speeding ticket. But I've heard that some legal gymnastics have been used to justify making traffic courts immune from the right to trial by jury.

    Does anyone know if this is true, and if so, what the justification is?

  • I remember seeing this on a ticket years ago. There were two boxes, one indicating that a radar gun was used, the other saying that the person was visibly speeding. I'm surprised it's taken this long to come up honestly. Though I was under the impression it was to get people who were obviously driving much faster than the speed limit, not for minor speeding.

  • by stagg ( 1606187 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:06PM (#32451494)
    Ohio now allows police to guess whether or not pregnant mothers are carrying human offspring, or an animal hybrid. [] In cases where animal hybrids are suspected, the Ohio police are to issue a ticket immediately.
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      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 damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> 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 citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:21PM (#32451680)

    I recently fought a speeding ticket in BC. I went to court, was prepared with radar gun manuals and specs, what I thought was the regulations regarding calibration and many other defences.

    They were all struck down. Things that i learned:
    - going down a hill, moving with the flow of traffic, not enough posted signs, and many other "commonly accepted" defences were explicitly stated by the judge as not holding any water.
    - The police officer does NOT have to prove that the gun was calibrated in any way. His word that it was calibrated was "good enough" in the judges view.
    - Police are trained to make a visual inspection of the speed. They MUST make a guess at your speed in their head before firing off the laser or radar gun. Their experience in estimating speed is treated the same as laser evidence.
    - there is no "paper trail" on the gun, and they do not have to prove that the gun registered a certain number.
    - the judge makes or breaks your case. its pretty much the whim of the judge whether you will get off on a technicality or not.
    - bring some sort of previous case law that backs you up. I tried hard to find some relevant stuff, but obviously did not try hard enough.

    So I lost, but it was fun actually, going through the motions.

    Another thing i should say is that i was simply unlucky in the end. There were approximately 20 people there in the court fighting tickets, and 10 of them got to go scott free as their respective cops didnt even show up. No show = automatic win if you show up. So it is worth fighting every ticket and pleading not guilty, at least initally. Just dont expect to win if the cop shows up.

    Just my 0.2 cents as I just did this a few weeks ago in BC canada. ymmv.

  • Judges... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doug141 ( 863552 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:23PM (#32451706)

    My uncle got a ticket for a speed higher than he was traveling, and the officer testified in court that speed was determined by time over distance between two very close markers. The officer thought the closer his markers, the more accurate the measurement. My uncle, a professor, tried to explain that human timing error meant that the closer the markers were, the LESS accurate the speed measurement was. The judge didn't understand, was frustrated, and finally said he thought my uncle was a speeder, and let the fine stand.

    • 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 stanjo74 ( 922718 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:43PM (#32451966)

    I once got a speeding ticket for 10mph above 45 limit. The officer had "estimated" my speed. When I challenged him in court, he presented a training certificate, certifying that he could estimate speed with some ridiculous accuracy (forgot the actual number, maybe within 3mph).

  • 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.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell