Radar and Laser Calibration Issues in the State of Florida

If you receive a speeding ticket in the state of Florida, and your speed was measured via radar or laser, your Florida traffic ticket attorney may be able to challenge your ticket based on the lack of recent calibration for the device used. While radar and laser guns or devices are commonly used when issuing speeding tickets, there are requirements set forth by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles which must be followed. These requirements include:

  • The officer has completed appropriate training regarding the radar or laser device.
  • The officer made an independent visual determination that you were exceeding the speed limit.
  • The officer wrote your citation based on evidence obtained from the radar or laser device, taking into consideration prevailing weather conditions.
  • If a radar gun was used, the officer was using a radar gun with no automatic speed locks and no audio alarms.
  • If a radar gun was used, the officer had the audio Doppler setting engaged.
  • The radar or laser gun used to determine your speed meets the minimum design requirements.
  • The officer’s radar gun was tested according to Rule 15B-2.009, F.A.C. (tested within six months)
  • The officer laser gun was tested according to Rule 15B-2.016, F.A.C. (tested within six months)

In order for you to have your speeding citation dismissed, your attorney will need to be able to discredit the officer’s training, the ability to accurately assign speed to a specific vehicle (yours), or discredit the calibration of the radar or laser device used.

Radar and Laser Calibration

Laser Gun Calibration

A competent police officer will always take the following steps prior to using the laser gun to clock prospective speeders:

  1. The internal testing and calibration system of the instrument must be checked
  2. The sight alignment must be checked (by choosing an object and sweeping the gun past that object vertically and horizontally with the trigger engaged to ensure the laser beam and sight are coordinated.
  3. A test to check speed accuracy must be done (the simplest way is to drive the cruiser at a fixed speed, then fire the laser at a fixed object such as the flat side of a fence; the laser reading should be the same as the cruiser’s speedometer reading.
  4. If the sights are properly aligned and the tests show the instrument is working properly, the laser gun can be used with relative confidence, so long as it is used properly and has been calibrated regularly by an independent testing company.

While many laser and radar guns have an internal test calibration button, this is not the “official” calibration which is done by sending the laser gun to a certified calibration company every six months. Some newer laser guns have a feature known as Memory Log, which logs every citation event along with the daily tests performed on the laser gun, by time and date. Your attorney will want to ask for the certification of the laser guns, the recertification documents as well as the officer’s certification.

Radar Calibration

It is recommended by the International Chief of Police Association that police officers test the calibration of the radar gun prior to using it (at shift start) as well as at the end of each shift. The radar gun must be calibrated and tested by a licensed technician at least once a year—preferably every six months—as well. Stationary radar guns have one tuning fork; moving radars have two tuning forks. These tuning forks must also be tested for accuracy during the calibration process. Since the tuning forks tend to be extremely sensitive, they must be kept securely in a box which protects them from moisture and jostling, or they will not give accurate results. The tuning fork is gently tapped on a solid surface; it will begin vibrating and is then held in front of the radar gun antenna. The tuning fork is supposed to create a known reading on the radar unit, and the process must be repeated in stationary mode, moving in the opposite direction and moving in the same direction to ensure proper calibration.

Remember; flicking on the built in calibration switch at the beginning of the officer’s shift is not the same as actually calibrating the radar gun.  Further, even a radar gun which is properly calibrated can give false positive readings during snow, wind or rain, if there was a large building close to where you were cited, and whether there were larger vehicles around you when your speed was clocked. (A large 18-wheeler has five times the reflective capability as a standard motor vehicle, meaning the officer may actually have clocked the big truck rather than your vehicle. If the officer was moving when clocking your vehicle then the cruiser’s speedometer must have also been calibrated within the past six months.

How an Attorney from The Law Place Can Help You

There really is no such thing as a “minor” speeding ticket. Even if you were only going a few miles above the speed limit, you could end up with three points added to your driving record. More than fifteen miles per hour above the speed limit could get you four points on your driving record, and if you are additionally charged with reckless driving (which you could be for higher speeds), that is another four points in the event of a conviction. Those points can raise your automobile insurance premiums drastically and, should you accrue sufficient points, you could actually have your license suspended for one month, three months or even a year.

If you are like most Americans, losing your license would cause your entire life—including your employment—to grind to a halt. As you can see, it is important that you take your traffic citation seriously by bringing an experienced attorney from The Law Place on board who will take your charges equally seriously. With over thirty years combined experience and significant credentials to our credit, our attorneys will fight hard to have your charges dismissed, using calibration of the radar or laser gun as one of our challenge avenues. We know you have lots of choices for an attorney to handle your speeding ticket, however we believe The Law Place will consistently look out for your best interests, minimizing the damage to your future.

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