This information was
written by a Police Officer from the "Ask-a Cop" website
MYTHS AND REALITIES
There are many,
many myths and misconceptions floating around out there
about RADAR (RAdio
and LASER (LIDAR or LIght
units and how they operate. As a certified RADAR/LIDAR
instructor, I can tell you that your best bet, regardless of
what you choose to believe, is to just drive the speed
limit. No matter who believes what about the reliability of
the equipment and/or the competence of the officer using it,
the only way to eliminate all doubt is to obey the law.
These are the most common comments I have heard over the
years concerning this topic. I do not consider myself to be
an "expert" in the workings of all RADAR/LIDAR equipment on
the market. I simply want to provide you with the best
information I can to allow you to make an educated decision
on what you do out on the road.
won't work in bad weather".
False. RADAR "accuracy" is generally
not affected by inclement weather, however the sensitivity
may be diminished somewhat. The main reason that you do not
see many tickets being written in bad weather? Cops do not
like to be out in the elements any more than anyone else.
detectors will prevent me from getting a speeding ticket".
No, you driving the speed limit
will prevent you from getting a speeding ticket. I think I
have defeated about every kind of RADAR detector on the
market. They are okay as a tool to help keep you alert
(maybe) but they are not very effective as a tool to keep
you from getting nailed with the RADAR gun. Nearly every
RADAR unit on the market today has a "hold" feature which
allows the officer to prevent the RADAR beam from leaving
the unit until he/she wants to check the speed of a vehicle.
It is very common for the beam to be released, a speed
obtained, the speed locked in, and the beam held again all
within a matter of a second or two. That is much faster than
you can react, brake, and get your car slowed down enough to
avoid being stopped. In fact, the majority of detectors
cannot even be activated in that short time. So, if the
officer is using the unit to its full potential, you'll get
nailed every time.
cannot hide when running RADAR".
While I very seldom utilized this
tactic, it is perfectly legal. Sneaky, maybe, but legal. I
once had a lady tell me that "that's not very fair". My
response was "What is not fair about posting that big black
and white sign back there telling you how fast you are
allowed to drive?" Some people are very good at speeding
while watching out for the cops, so we have to even the
playing field somehow. Unfortunately, most speeders combine
that violation with not paying very much attention to much
at all, so they are easy to catch even in the wide open.
"If I ask
to see the RADAR, the officer has to show it to me".
To my knowledge, there is no
law in effect making it mandatory for the officer to show
you the RADAR. My feeling has always been that if I had a
legitimate speed locked in and it was them, why not show it
to them? I had nothing to hide and even though they had no
idea what they were looking at (most units allow a speed to
remain locked in for an indefinite period of time, so it
could be a speed from 2 hours ago) and if it increases my
credibility in their mind, so be it.
unit must have my speed locked in to make it a legal stop".
False. I normally tried to have the violator's speed locked
in if I stopped in just in case they wanted to see it, but
many times after locking it in and pulling out to pursue the
vehicle, the locking trigger would bump into my clipboard
lying in the seat where I had just laid my RADAR and
viola!...no speed. They still got their ticket.
get more speeding tickets".
Whatever. I cannot make a red car go
over the speed limit any more than I can a purple one, so I
do not know where this one came from. I suppose it may be
because red sports cars look really cool, but traffic cops
do not care about cool, they care about violations. Now that
is not to say that if you are driving some hot, eye-catching
machine that an officer may not give you a second look, but
if you are obeying the law, who cares?
the officer stop me out of a group of cars that I was
driving with?" There
are certain criteria that an officer uses when determining
which vehicle is actually giving the speed shown on the
RADAR. They are too involved for me to go into here, but
suffice it to say it is possible to "pick a car out" of a
group, it is just usually very difficult. I had a guy tell
me one day that I must have gotten one of the other cars
because he was not speeding. I asked him "If the other car
is the one I got going 57 in a 35 zone, and you were passing
him and every other car in the group, how fast were YOU
going?" He did not answer me. LIDAR, however, is another
story. These units have a sight similar to a rifle that the
officer lines up on the vehicle to be checked, holds the
unit steadily on the target, and gets only that car's speed.
The unit that I am certified in has a beam width of
approximately 3' at 1000', so it only hits one car at a
time. Compare that with the approximate 250' width of a
RADAR beam at the same distance and you can understand why
this new technology is a favorite among law enforcement
officers in the field and very difficult to go up against in
can I go over the limit before I will get a ticket?"
Depends on the officer and the
jurisdiction. Most officers have the discretion as to when
they write tickets. Most that I worked with allowed anywhere
from 6-10 MPH over before they actually cited the violator.
The best answer, obviously, is drive the posted limit and no
more. But, I know, we must be realistic here.
officers have a quota?"
I honestly have never heard of a
department ordering (in writing) their officers to write a
certain number of tickets in a given period of time. This
job, however, is not unlike any other with performance
standards. If I come in at the end of my shift with no
paperwork, the boss is gonna wonder what in the world I was
doing out there. If I work on an assembly line, I am
expected to produce "X" number of units per shift to show
that I am actually pulling my weight. Any smart departmental
administration will tell their officers that "if it is a
valid violation and you feel that it needs to be written up,
do it". That may mean 30 tickets a month, it may only mean
3, but it should be up to the officer's discretion as to
whether or not a citation is issued. It also depends a great
deal on what the officer's primary assigned duties are. An
undercover narcotics officer, for example, is certainly not
going to go around writing tickets (unless one of his
neighbors blocks his driveway), but a traffic officer who's
primary responsibility is traffic safety could easily rack
up 15-25 per shift. Sadly, there is no shortage of
violations occurring. The key is, are they solid tickets
that make sense.