Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Former Traffic Court Judge

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Why do police make mistakes when giving out speeding tickets?

Speeding tickets seem like some of the most cut-and-dry cases you can get involved in. If you were speeding and the officer caught you on a radar gun, they have proof that you were speeding. Isn't that the end of the case?

If you think so, you may want to think again. A lot of tickets -- maybe as many as 25 percent -- actually get given out in error to drivers who do not deserve them.

Why does this happen? There are a few reasons, such as:

  • RFI interference
  • Shadowing
  • Mechanical interference
  • Cosine angle error
  • Lack of calibration

This list comes directly from a retired police officer who used the same devices police use today to track the speed of drivers on the road. He saw how easy it was to make mistakes, whether motorists knew it or not.

In many cases, ticket errors are largely avoidable. Police are supposed to calibrate all of their equipment on a regular basis, from radar guns to breath tests. When they neglect to do so, they can get inaccurate results -- or at least results that can't be trusted in court.

They also need proper training regarding how to use these devices. Even if the device itself is functioning properly, the evidence may not hold up in court if the officer using the device isn't well-trained.

As you can see, there are definitely some reasons to challenge a speeding ticket -- yet only five percent of people actually do. Make sure you know all of the options you have to challenge a traffic ticket in court. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.

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