Understanding Police Radar Used in Speed Detection
Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) works by using microwaves and has been in use since the early 1950’s, going through multiple generations throughout the years. The first radar units used vacuum tubes and were very bulky, transmitting S-Band at 2.45 GHz, which is very close to today’s microwave ovens. Police radar is based on the Doppler effect; when the police officer targets a vehicle with his or her radar gun, the speed of the vehicle results in a tiny shift in the reflection’s frequency as compared to the original beam. The Doppler effect is caused by the motion of the wave source or an object the waves bounce off of. The first police radars emitted a constant stream of pulses, allowing for much easier detection, but later models implemented an “instant on” mode, making it much more difficult for those with radar detectors to receive a signal and slow down prior to being “nabbed.”
The second type of radar was X-Band radar detection which was a relatively low-frequency high-power radar used primarily in New Jersey and Ohio. X-Band operates at about 10.525 GHz X-Band is the easiest type of radar wave to detect, and in some cases, X-Band radar can be detected as far away as four miles. The average distance speed readings are taken, is a half a mile, meaning the X-Band radar can be detected long before the police officer can get an accurate speed reading. Those who had older radar detectors may also have figured out that supermarkets use X-Band motion sensors on their automatic doors—causing radar detectors to give off plenty of false positives in a city area.
K-Band radar operates at a much higher frequency than X-Band, however has a shorter range than X-Band. The K-Band radar can be used from a moving police cruiser or a stationary point, and is sometimes used in motion sensors. The K-band can be detected up to two miles, however its primary problem is that the frequency is close to a band of frequencies readily absorbed by water (22.24 GHz). This means the K-Band can be significantly reduced when fog, mist or heavy rain is present.
Next, Ka-Band radar detection was introduced; Ka-Band radar operates at an even higher frequency than K-Band and was initially used in photo radar. “Stalker” guns using Ka-Band can operate at any frequency between 33.4 and 36 GHz. Radar detectors provide better distance coverage than laser detectors, however suffer more false positives than laser. Radar speed detectors cannot see around corners or through a hill, and cannot see you when you are behind another vehicle. The higher frequencies are much more accurate as the narrower beam width improves range and accuracy.
Continuous radars remain “on” and are generally used, unattended, in a roadside trailer next to the LED speed display that informs you of your speed. Pulse-mode radars produce a short pulse every few seconds, but the timing is manually set. Pulse-mode radars are generally used in traffic monitoring in a police cruiser which is moving. The instant-on radar is usually a gun device which is manually triggered by the police officer.
Problems Associated With Radar Speed Detection
There are a number of issues associated with radar speed detection. Your Florida traffic attorney may be able to use one or more of these issues in your defense, such as:
- Larger vehicles reflect more strongly than smaller vehicles, meaning the officer may have measured the speed of the wrong vehicle.
- Traffic radars tend to be more cheaply made, making them vulnerable to interferences which result in false positive readings.
- Speed radars, because of their simplicity cannot tell one car from another; the police officer must do that, yet because the police officer cannot see an invisible beam, he may target the wrong vehicle.
- Police officers must be trained and certified to operate radar units—and periodically recertified in order for the radar to be accurate.
- The radar units themselves must be scrupulously maintained and calibrated regularly; if this does not occur, the readings may be inaccurate.
- The radar beam is similar to a flashlight beam, meaning the further the beam travels, the more spread out it becomes. This spread-out beam can hit two vehicles rather than the one aimed at, as the beam width can be two lanes wide at only 160 feet away from the radar gun. This can cause inaccuracies when the officer believes the radar was picking up your speed, but was actually picking up the speed of another vehicle. This is one of radar’s primary failings and is known as “lack of resolution.”
- Wind, rain or stormy weather can cause bogus readings; in one test, a handheld radar gun pointed at a tree blowing in the wind was clocked at 70 mph. Windblown rain can reflect enough energy to send out a false signal, and even atmospheric electrical charges associated with the weather right before a thunderstorm can interfere with the radar unit.
- If the radar unit is left on “automatic” rather than being turned on and off by the police officer when a car traveling at a high rate of speed is noticed, the unit could pick up one of several cars going in either direction.
How an Attorney from The Law Place Can Help
You may feel that a speeding ticket is really nothing more than a minor annoyance, however in truth, there can be long-term repercussions associated with simply paying that speeding ticket. Once you pay the ticket you have a conviction for the offense—along with accompanying points on your driving record. You will receive three points for speeding under fifteen miles above the posted speed limit, and four points for speeding over fifteen miles above the posted speed limit. Those points can result in huge increases in your auto insurance premiums as well as a revocation of your driver’s license should you reach a certain number of points.
There are many good reasons to choose The Law Place to represent you in court for your speeding offense. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing people just like you, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of local, state and federal laws related to your charges. Our firm’s attributes will work in your favor when we become part of your team. As your Florida speeding ticket attorney, The Law Place will fight aggressively on your behalf, always looking out for your best interests.