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Moving Radar in Ohio

On Lawyer & Legal » Traffic Law

11,856 words with 6 Comments; publish: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 09:10:00 GMT; (800234.38, « »)

I was "clocked by on-board radar" (quote by the officer) at 53 in 40 mph zone, in a small village in Metro Cleveland area. Since I myself live in Georgia, and come to OH for business about 1-2 times a month, I've not heard of "on-board" radars before. So, I did some research and found out that those display 2 readings: patrol car's speed and target's speed.

Question 1: How does radar determine patrol car's speed?

Question 2: How wide is the sweep area of a moving radar? I doubt that it has stationary 12 degree beam pointing into one direction, so it must sweep the area in front of the patrol car.

So far, here are some of the interesting things that I discovered, which makes me believe that I can beat this thing:

  • I was traveling on that road for a distance of approximately .5 mile (and I actually have proof that demonstrates where I turned from!)
  • This was my first time taking that route and I was looking for my destination, which was .9 mile from the turn (I have proof of that too).
  • -- (So based on these 2 factors, I had no reason to go faster than 40 while looking for my intended destination).
  • The road has 4 lanes (2 in each direction), divided by a line of small trees, which do not obstruct vision, but make it impossible to visually estimate vehicle's speed (got proof of that too).
  • The citation shows "medium" traffic density, which means there were other cars on the road.
  • -- (Question 3 -- Is it possible that radar locked on a car 100-200 feet behind me?)
  • The citation shows "rain", "wet pavement", "cloudy visibility", while I have proof that rain was over for at least 30 minutes prior to citation issuance (I was really surprised by that "Rain" check-mark, since I knew there was no rain when I was driving). Visibility was 5-6 miles.
  • I have requested a bunch of documents, but received only following:
    • Officer's notes (color and make of my car, radar type, and patrol hours -- NOTHING ELSE!!!)
    • Tuning forks and radar's calibration records and certificates
    • Officer training certificate
  • Here is the kicker: officer is trained on Decatur Genesis, forks are certified by Decatur Electronics, his notes say that he operated Genesis, but RADAR ASSIGNED TO HIS CAR is Kustom Pro 1000!!!!
  • Also, Prosecutor told me that Operating Manuals, Training Manuals, State Regulations, etc. are not available through the police department and that he could not obtain them for me even though I requested them.

So, with so many angles to spin, and considering that this is a Mayor's Court, what would be my best questioning/fact presenting strategy be? I don't have sufficient legal education to use appropriate language, I am not quick at the draw when presented with questions or witty responses (I can think of a good approach and come back to you after 5-10 minutes, but not right on the spot), and, therefore, look for a bullet-proof presentation of the facts.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  • 6 Comments
    • Quoting
      I think most of the details you provided are meaningless...with the exception of your question as to whether the officer was properly trained in in the use of the equipment he used in his accusation. If you can show he's not properly trained, I think you've got a pretty good case. Without that, I think you'll lose. Good luck and, as always but rarely answered...let us know!
      So, here is the follow-up to what happened in court. First of all, they tried to throw me off-guard my changing the time and the venue without my concent (from mayor's court during after-hours to municipal court during business hours). Luckily, I have received the letter in time and made arrangements to be there on-time.

      After the officer answered prosecutor's questions, saying that he saw me going over a hill ahead of other vehicles when his on-board radar went off. he proceeded saying that as soon as I saw him I slowed down (should've objected to that on the grounds that this was his opinion, not fact, but I don't have a good reaction to this type of things), then he said that he saw me pulling away from other vehiclesa behind me (should've grilled them on how could I slow down AND pull away at the same time).

      When I got a chance to cross-examine him, I first asked him if his view was obstructed. he said no. Then I introduced the sattelite photo of the location as an evidence and he agreed that it was the same spot where he clocked me. I asked him what were the dark dots in the middle of the road. He said "trees". I asked if they obstructed his view and he said "No, since they are small, about 6 feet tall". I should've pressed him further asking if the little hill that he mentioned earlier was higher than his spot and if that would put his line of sight directly behind the top part of 6-foot tall trees, but I gave up, as judge kept giving me hard time with almost every question.

      So, I started another pass, this time following his admission that he was wearing "exactly the same uniform as in court". I asked him if that meant no rain gear. He confirmed. So, I asked him if it was raining, since he marked "raining" in the ticket (should've kept that fact to myself). he said that it was raining. I tried to introduced weather report for that day as evidence (no rain), but judge refused it (I probably could have done it after cross-examination, but I never had a chance to find out). So, I told him that he is not giving me a chance to defend myself and pulled the last available card -- wrong radar unit.

      Asking officer which unit he used turned out to be pointless. I tried to use copies that assistant prosecutor made for me, but officer said that "he doesn't know what prosecutor office did". So, I asked judge if I have to call prosecutor to the stand if I wanted to question him about those copies. After a brief stunning look, prosecutor said that he would be disqualified if he came to the stand, but that he was not the one obtaining documents, so his assistant can testify instead. So, I asked assistant if those were the documents that he compiled for me, he said "yes". Then I asked if all the technical specs apply to Decatur Genesis, and if Decatur Genesis is a product of Decatur Electronics, and if the training certificate is from them, and if the forks were tuned for that radar... And he kept saying "Yes" to all of them. So then I asked "how come the radar that was installed on-board of the patrol car is listed as Kustom Pro"? And before the judge could object, I wipped out two pictures of those radars and said "THEY DON'T EVEN LOOK THE SAME" and then "if you tune one radar with forks that were calibrated for another radar, you'll get it out of whack!" Prosecutor weekly objected to this last statement, but cross-examined officer, asking what the word "Genesis" means on his notes. The officer responded "radar type, but I might have been mistaken, as I used all of them and I am trained for all of them..." At that point, judge asked me for my copy of the documents, looked through them carefully (in the meantime prosecutor was eyeing his assistant with a look "I cannot believe this is happenning") and dismissed the case...

      So, I feel like all my attempts to intelligent approach of challenging officer's testimony and assessment where fruitless and in the end I got off the hook on a technicality. Not too satisfactory to my ego, but definitely beneficial to my vallet

      #1; Thu, 13 Mar 2008 00:00:00 GMT
    • If you want to know the specs of the radar device, contact the manufacturer.

      I'm looking for the part of your post where you state, "I wasn't going 53 in a 40". Did I overlook something?

      #2; Fri, 17 Aug 2007 14:42:00 GMT
    • evreitor,

      If you like reading, to address your original questions, may I recommend a book that will likely provide you the answers: Driver's Guide to Police Radar written by STH's resident online traffic enforcement guru. The book covers the evolution of the early stationery police radar models to the latest digital (DSP) Ka moving radar units...

      Speed Trap Hunter

      #3; Tue, 01 Apr 2008 23:14:00 GMT
    • I agree with your premise. Whether or not you were exceeding the speed limit or not, your purpose by consulting this forum is to prevail in court...nothing else matters to you, at this point, nor should it.

      I think most of the details you provided are meaningless...with the exception of your question as to whether the officer was properly trained in in the use of the equipment he used in his accusation. If you can show he's not properly trained, I think you've got a pretty good case. Without that, I think you'll lose. Good luck and, as always but rarely answered...let us know!

      #4; Fri, 17 Aug 2007 18:48:00 GMT
    • Quoting
      If you want to know the specs of the radar device, contact the manufacturer.

      I'm looking for the part of your post where you state, "I wasn't going 53 in a 40". Did I overlook something?

      If I was, I wouldn't be in front of the judge, would I? It would be easier to pay out-of-state fine than going through the trouble of appearing in court twice (arraignment hearing and the actual trial).

      On a serious note, is it more imperative to state that loud and clear than to actually explain why there was no possibility that I was?

      #5; Fri, 17 Aug 2007 16:15:00 GMT
    • One of the things that I am really curious about is whether officer's testimonial can be stroked down. Since his notes are non-existent, and I did subpoenaed Standard Operating Procedures, which prosecutor refused to share (his excuse: "Police Dept. does not keep them"), can it be argued that
      • Without proper notes, officer cannot possibly remember his exact actions
      • Therefore, he recites operating procedures which he "supposedly" followed
      • Those procedures were subpoenaed, but not provided...
      It appears, that his claims of "estimating my speed" or "checking his speedometer against radar reading" would be unsubstantiated, would they? Once again, what is the right way to play this angle?

      I am hoping to be able to argue that radar reading by itself is meaningless, as you really do not know what target it shows (especially moving radar, as it sweeps a wide area in front of the patrol car), unless you can visually verify all the readings; since officer's vision of the opposite side of the road was obstructed, it would be impossible for him to estimate my speed, or speed of other cars behind me.

      And as far as radar goes, everyone says that radars are very accurate. I would say that they are "precise", showing very accurately whatever they perceive to be the source of Doppler Effect. However, when radars are tested by a tuning fork, they surely display target speed of 35 or 65 mph, while the fork hardly moves. So, that's a perfect illustration of a stationary object emitting waves, which confuse radar. Is there any value in this argument?

      #6; Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:06:00 GMT