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Are radar gun readings always accurate?

| Jun 22, 2020 | Traffic Violations |

Summer travel season is here in Virginia. Many residents will take a “staycation” this year and will drive to one of the state’s many parks or beaches for a fun weekend. However, the fun weekend can become not-so-fun if you are pulled over for speeding and issued a ticket.

The situation may seem especially unfair if the basis for the ticket is the reading on the officer’s radar gun, which you feel is inaccurate. You may wonder, if you believe you were not travelling as fast as the radar gun seemed to indicate, if there is any way to challenge this.

One way to challenge a radar gun reading in court is to show that the instrument was not calibrated properly or within the requisite timeframe. Officers are required to test and calibrate radar guns by using a tuning fork to ensure the radar gun is producing proper readings. While the manufacturers of these instruments have their own recommendations on how often the instrument should be calibrated — some even saying radar guns should be calibrated before every use — state requirements may be much less stringent.

Some radar guns use Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology to assess speed. It is like radar, but it is based on lasers rather than radio waves. Officers need to be trained and certified on how to use LIDAR technology before they can use these instruments. If the officer lacked training or made some other error while operating the instrument, it could lead to a faulty result that you can argue is inaccurate.

Ultimately, challenging a traffic ticket in court may seem simple, but it only takes one misstep to have your arguments thrown out and ticket upheld. This post is for educational purposes only, and it should not be relied upon as legal advice. For this reason, many people in Virginia who get speeding tickets and want to challenge them will work with a professional well-versed in this area of law.

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