Should I request the radar calibration records to contest my speeding ticket?

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Question:

I got my first speeding ticket last weekend, for doing 70 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. The cop had radar but shot me from three lanes and 1,000 feet away during moderate traffic.

I've been driving six years and had a clean record. I heard something about requesting calibration records on the radar gun and wonder if this would be worth the effort. I'm not interested in getting out of the fine. I just don't want any points.

Answer:

Using the radar calibration records won't ensure that you'll get out of the ticket.  However, because radar guns have to be calibrated regularly, it might be worth the effort if you can show that the gun in your case wasn't calibrated properly.

According to the operations manuals that come with police radar, to ensure accuracy every radar unit is supposed to be calibrated with tuning forks before each and every working shift and also before and after being used to detect each speeding violation. The forks used to tune are also sensitive creatures: If not kept in a box protecting them from moisture and jostling, they become inaccurate.

But, if you attend a few traffic court trials, you'll notice that almost all officers of the law swear they calibrated their radar units just before issuing the ticket. What they usually mean is that they flicked on a switch built into the radar unit itself, then switched it back to regular operation.

What is actually required is calibration by tuning fork, and that difference may be important to you. If you ask about calibrating with a tuning fork, and the officer who ticketed you has not testified to doing so, it may be enough to get you off the hook.

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