Aircraft Speeding Tickets in the State of Florida

A fleet of seven Cessna fixed-wing aircraft patrol the skies above Florida, delivering over 45,000 citations per year, with about 38,000 of those being speeding tickets. Due to the expense of monitoring vehicle speeds via aircraft (approximately $150 per hour) it is actually used very sparingly, generally more often on holidays when there are a higher number of vehicles on the roadways. Some areas use aircraft speeding regularly once a month, while others much less frequently. Aircraft speeding tickets require a fixed wing aircraft flying over the interstate, measuring the speed of a specific vehicle, then radioing that information to a ground patrol unit.

The airplane office monitors and measures your speed from one fixed point on the roadway to another. A speed measurement table is used, and your speed is calculated. This information is relayed to ground patrol along with your approximate location, the type of vehicle you drive (including make, model and color).  The ground patrol is then required to independently verify your speed, then stop you and issue a ticket. Aircraft speed detection is being used less and less frequently, due to the exorbitant costs involved in maintaining and manning the aircraft. A second method of determining your speed involves a kind of “pacing” of  your vehicle by the aircraft, using a stopwatch to time the aircraft’s passage from the one fixed object to the other, then the aircraft “paces” your vehicle’s speed. The second method is much less accurate than the first.

Potential Issues Associated With Aircraft Speeding Tickets

There are a number of issues you may be able to use to your advantage in order to have your aircraft speeding ticket dismissed. Some of those include the following:

  • Both the aircraft and ground officer must be present on the day you appear in court. The aircraft officer must testify how your speed was measured, and the ground officer will verify that you were the driver of the vehicle and you were exceeding the speed limit. Generally speaking, if only one of the officers appears, the state will be unable to prove its case against you. Your attorney may request that your case be dismissed if either officer fails to appear.
  • The prosecution may attempt to introduce the absent officer’s report, however your attorney may object to this tactic on the basis of hearsay.
  • Assuming both officers appear, your attorney may be able to challenge whether the timing was properly performed from the aircraft. If the aircraft officer hesitated prior to pushing the timer as you passed the first fixed marker, the speed calculation is less likely to be accurate.
  • The greater the distance between the ground markings, the higher likelihood the speed calculation will be correct; if the distance was less than a mile, your speed reading might not have been accurate.
  • On the flip side, if the two ground markers are a mile or more apart, it can be argued that it is hard to stare continuously at an object (your car) for the amount of time it took you to go from one marker to the other—particularly from an airplane.
  • If the airplane officer kept a log of every vehicle paced, your attorney might be able to argue that while the aircraft started out pacing your vehicle, he or she may have mistakenly focused on another car that was similar in looks to yours.
  • If the aircraft officer used the second method of pacing, your attorney can argue that the wind conditions can greatly affect the speed of the aircraft. As an example, if a headwind arose after the aircraft officer timed the airplane’s passage between the two markers, the airspeed would be decreased, making it look like your car was going faster than it actually was.
  • Because there are so many vehicles on the road which resemble one another, it is always a possibility that the ground officer stopped the wrong car—after all, the aircraft officer would not have been able to see your license plate or any other specific, identifying markers on your vehicle.
  • If the aircraft officer maintained a log on the day you were ticketed, your attorney may want to ensure there are no references to multiple vehicles (raising identity issues), no hard-to-believe identical speeds for multiple vehicles and that the markers were neither exceptionally short or exceptionally long.
  • A prospective aircraft pilot must have logged at least one year as a regular Florida state trooper, have a minimum of 500 hours of flight time as well as a commercial or instrument rating.
  • Your attorney may be able to challenge whether or not the stopwatch used by the aircraft pilot has been calibrated within the past six months.

How an Attorney from The Law Place Can Help

If you received an aircraft speeding ticket, it is likely it was for a fairly high rate of speed. This in itself can be a problem, as you could garner four points on your driving record for going more than 15 mph above the speed limit, and another four if charged with reckless driving. Those points could result in exorbitant auto insurance premiums—that is, if you are not dropped by your insurance company altogether—as well as the loss of your driving privileges if you have other points on your record. The attorneys at The Law Place work aggressively and passionately on your behalf.

We don’t believe it is “just a speeding ticket,” as we fully understand the repercussions which can accompany that speeding ticket. The experience our attorneys bring to the table on your behalf can result in a dismissal, or a lessening of the charged offense. Our goal is to minimize the amount of points which are placed on your driving record, and we have learned our successful tactics and strategies, fighting for clients just like you. We know you have choices in the attorney you choose to fight your aircraft speeding ticket, however we also believe you will be impressed by our credentials and experience.

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