BLOG: Speed radar not always right

A lot of people get caught speeding in NSW every year and most of those are legitimate fines being imposed on people breaking the law.

But there is another group of people who either readily admit that they were speeding but dispute the speed allocated to them by the police, or say they were not speeding at all.

Now you probably ask yourself how can I fight the police? They have the most sophisticated radar equipment, there is often two of them, they measure the speed of vehicles for a living….how could I beat them in court? The odds are stacked against me.

Yes, the odds generally are in favour of the police, but if you honestly believe you weren’t speeding or not speeding to the degree as alleged by the police, you should have no hesitation in taking the police on. The police case may not be as impregnable as you think.

I will give you a recent example of such a case that I worked on. I acted for a young woman who was travelling home late at night, whom the police alleged was doing over 50kph over the speed limit. The young lady right from the outset denied that she was doing anywhere near that kind of speed, and said at worst she may have been travelling 10kph over the limit.

Like any driver in NSW caught speeding 30kph or more over the limit, if convicted it means you lose your licence for 3 months, if caught 45kph or more over the limit it's an automatic 6 months off the road, not even counting the $2000+ fine.

For this young lady the loss of her licence meant the loss of her job, and with the enormous fine, it meant she would be in deep financial trouble.

At the time she was pulled over by the police, she questioned the speed alleged by the police. She was invited by the police officer to view the radar reading in the car which she declined.

After she came to see me, I contacted the police officer to obtain some more specific details of the alleged incident and to attempt to negotiate with the police to amend the facts to a speed that my client consider more accurately reflected the speed she was travelling at the time.

The police officer refused to confirm any details to me of the incident, most specifically whether she was being charged based on a radar reading. This immediately raised my suspicions, so I issue the police with a lengthy subpoena seeking information on a range of matters including the use and service of the radar, through to the experience of the police officer.

The response I received provided me with the information that the police had not operated the radar properly when tracking my client’s vehicle, so that they were not going to be able to rely on the radar reading to prosecute the case. The police would now be relying on the visual estimate of the speed of my client’s vehicle by the police officer.

Suddenly the police case that looked rock solid based on a properly operating modern piece of radar technology was looking decidedly more shaky relying on the visual estimate of an officer, stationary at the time, in the dark and on the opposite side of the road to my client’s vehicle.

I was eventually able to negotiate with police to have them amend the police facts to reflect the speed that my client said she was travelling in excess of the speed limit at the time. It allowed her to keep her licence and therefore keep her job.

It made me reflect on how many other poor people out there simply accept the police’s estimate of their speed, and pay an enormous prize for doing so , when that police estimate is either manifestly wrongly, or there is enough significant doubt over the estimate that it could be successfully challenged in court.

Don’t always accept the police assertions of your speed if you dont believe they are accurate. The estimates are not always accurate, and the basis for those estimates may be faulty.

Craig Borg, Borg Lawyers - www.borglawyers.com.au

The CrimeTime blog has been prepared to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice  and should NOT be relied upon as a substitute for detailed legal advice. Borg Lawyers, Craig Borg, the Illawarra Mercury, or any related parties are not responsible to any user or anyone related to a user of the CrimeTime blog, for any loss suffered in connection with the use of the CrimeTime blog.   

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