1. Make sure the officer signed the ticket. If the officer forgot to sign the ticket, you can win, because the ticket is no longer admissible.
2. Make sure the ticket properly lists the offense. Sometimes, the officer accuses you of the wrong infraction. Look up the RCW and list the elements out.
Request Discovery from the prosecutor.
The ticket will not contain the facts of the case. You need to file a request for any and all evidence the prosecutor intends to submit at trial. File such a request at the clerk's office and a copy with the prosecutor. Make sure the request is at least 14 days before the contested hearing. Make sure you put down an address to send the stuff.
Under court rule IRLJ 3.1(b), if the prosecuting authority provides any portion of the discovery less than 7 days before the hearing, such untimely discovery shall be suppressed only upon a showing of prejudice in the presentation of the defendant's case. If the prosecuting authority, without reasonable excuse or justification, fails to provide any portion of the discovery prior to the day of hearing, the portion of discovery not provided shall be suppressed.
If the report is supressed, then the State has no evidence. The state has the burden to prove its case, not you.
Examine the Discovery
1. First check to see when the actual report was filed with the court. Under IRLJ 2.2(d), the notice of infraction must be filed within 5 days of the issuance of the infraction. So, if its not filed timely, it is grounds for dismissal.
2. Check to see the officer stated he was qualified to operate the radar/lidar. The officer can't just say you were going 10 mph over the limit with his SMD (speed measuring device). He needs to state that he was trained and properly used it. That goes with pacing. He needs to state that speedometer was checked to be in working order before and after the shift.
3. Did the officer state that your car was the only one in the SMD beam? If not, the officer did not properly employ the radar.
4. Did the officer use both tuning forks to properly calibrate the radar gun? Each radar gun has specific tuning forks assigned to it. Check with the clerk's office to find out if the proper forks were used.
Check the Radar Certifications
Talk to the clerk's office and find out if they keep the SMD's calibration records. The manufacturers usually require that the SMD be calibrated every year. You can mount an attack on the SMD if they were not properly calibrated.
Mount Your Defense
While you might be able to poke holes in the State's case, make sure gather favorable evidence. You need more than excuses to win at a contested hearing. It the cop states you did something that defies the laws of gravity, then you need to prepare a case of your own. Gather witnesses (declarations are fine, if you can't get them into court), take photos, draw a map. Judges want to see proof not excuses.
Subpoena the Officer?
Take caution in subpoenaing the officer. If there are defects with how the ticket was written or there are problems with SMD, do not subpoena the officer. They can correct any defects and sink your case. Yes, you might win if the officer does not show. So if you don't have anything, subpoenaing the officer might be the right call. However, note, officers are usually paid overtime (Spokane Police Department 4 hours overtime) for appearing in court on a traffic ticket, even though they may only testify for 15 minutes. They have incentive to be there.
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