LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Judith Michael Fouladi | Feb 21, 2011

You've Been Cited for Speeding - How Must it Be Proved in Court?

The vast majority of traffic infractions are for speeding. Drivers are typically cited for violating the basic speed law (VC section 22350), or for driving over the posted speed limit (VC section 22349). Typically, law enforcement may use a radar devise, or engage in a vehicle pace to determine a prima facie speed violation. These are some things to bear in mind with respect to law enforcement's burden of proof:

1.) If radar was used, the arresting officer must establish that he or she has successfully completed a radar operator course of at least 24 hours, on the use and operation of police traffic radar devices. This course must have been approved and certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training ("POST").

2.) If a laser device - e.g. "LIDAR" (light detection and ranging) was used, the arresting officer must establish he or she completed the 24-hour POST-certified radar course, plus at least 2 additional hours of POST-certified training on the use of the devise.

3.) The radar, laser or other electronic devise used to measure the arrestee's speed must meet or exceed the minimal operational standards for the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, and has been calibrated by an independent, certified laser or radar repair and testing facility within 3 years of the date of the violation.

4.) Your speed was unsafe for the conditions present at the time of the citation (unless the violation is for exceeding the posted speed limit - VC section 22349, or for exceeding 55 mph in certain specified vehicles - VC section 22406). See Vehicle Code section 22350 (law enforcement must prove either that the defendant drove at a speed that endangered people or property, or that the defendant drove at at speed that was unreasonable for the driving conditions).

5.) The evidence or testimony presented must establish the violation was not based upon a "speed trap" as defined within Vehicle Code section 40802 (a).

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