Reckless Driving PACE Defense Explained by Virginia Criminal Lawyer

Virginia Reckless Driving by Speed:
Defending Radar, LIDAR, and PACE Cases

This post provides an overview of devices used to measure speed in Virginia. Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer and Criminal Attorney, Brenton D. Vincenzes, has represented clients accused of reckless driving in many jurisdictions, including: Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington–and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions.

fairfax virginia reckless driving lawyerThere are many ways a lawyer can win a case.

In a Virginia reckless driving by speed case, the police officer probably used radar, LIDAR, or a pacing technique.

The device or method used by the officer is one of the facts that can drastically impact a case. Depending on the facts, circumstances, and the device used, your local Virginia reckless driving lawyer may want to turn to an entirely different chapter of their defense playbook.

You can usually determine how your speed was calculated by looking on your Summons.

 Fairfax reckless driving lawyer‘s recent case results.

Many cases are resolved by plea agreement, and the defendant makes this decision to avoid trial (uncertainty). Other times, less common factors can limit the use of a defense, but they are beyond the scope of this post.

Virginia Reckless Driving Device Defense,
Pros and Cons: RADAR vs. LIDAR

LIDAR is touted as a better option for measuring the speed of a vehicle in traffic, and is now very common. Despite advancements in technology, there are ways to attack the reading, operation, and functioning status of the device.

RADAR Calibration

We have posted extensively in the past on the calibration requirement issues when speed is at issue. The previous articles referencing this sub-topic can be visited via the prior link and the links from that page… or read the law itself, Virginia Code § 46.2-882.

LIDAR and RADAR Questions Virginia Traffic Attorneys May Ask Police Officers on Cross Examination

Virginia criminal lawyers and traffic attorneys  cross examine police officers after the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s have finished direct examination….but what do lawyers do when it seems as if the testimony from the officer is solid, and all that there is to attack is the device itself (or, as a good Virginia defense attorney will tell you, the operator of the device, and sometimes, the person who tested the device).

7 questions a Virginia reckless driving attorney might ask in one way or another:

  • self-test feature on device, and was it used?
  • many cars near the vehicle?
  • is the radar device hand-held?
  • one-piece or two-piece device?
  • how long was the suspect tracked?
  • where was the device aimed?
  • tracking vehicle from back to front, or front to back?

Any reckless driving violation in Virginia is serious, and can result in jail time and/or thousands in fines.

Pace Defense – Will it work for a Virginia Reckless Driving ticket?

While it is more common for a police officer to pull over a driver and charge him or her with a reckless driving offense based on RADAR or LIDAR output, the PACE method is used semi-frequently.

What is the pace method?

It refers to a method of determining (or, guessing) speed. The police officer may follow a driver, keep a steady distance for a period of several seconds, and note the speed of his or her cruiser.

The only way this can be said to be at all accurate is if speed is maintained; distance constant; and, the speedometer of the officer’s cruiser calibrated and accurate.

How canthe  PACE technique fail in court?

  • testimony about fluctuating speed
  • flaw in test
  • time and distance
  • speed up or slow
  • how long was defendant paced

Compared with RADAR and LIDAR, the PACE method is primitive. It is not easy to maintain an exact distance between a vehicle, when the subject is traveling at an alleged high rate of speed on a public highway, or if during the time of the alleged pacing, the vehicles (one or both) change speed. Obviously it is physically impossible for an officer to keep the exact same distance between his vehicle and the defendant’s vehicle. Similarly, it is impossible, literally and physically, to maintain the same speed as another vehicle for a period of time, even if off by hundredths of a unit.

Image(s) credit: 3D Police Officer” by David Castillo Dominici viafreedigitalphotos

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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.


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