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.
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.
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.
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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- How to beat a speeding ticket by attacking visual estimate of speed - August 9, 2015