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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

Can you contest radar evidence in court?

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2019 | criminal defense

When a North Carolina law enforcement officer writes you a speeding ticket, (s)he likely used a hand-held radar gun to “clock” you going over the posted speed limit. But while radar gun results seem to be an open and shut case of compelling evidence against you, is this always true?

FindLaw explains that if you truly do not believe you were driving over the speed limit at the time the radar gun says you were, you can — and probably should — hire a criminal defense attorney, plead not guilty at your arraignment, and challenge the radar results at your trial. Before you head to court, however, you and your attorney will need to do some diligent investigation.

Training and calibration

The first thing you will need to discover is what type of radar device the officer used. Each kind of radar equipment comes with its own set of instructions as to the training required to properly use it and the calibration needed to obtain a valid result. Once you know the device used, you can obtain the manual that sets forth these guidelines.

Virtually all radar gun manufacturers recommend that an operator receive a specific number of hours of training in its proper use. Did the officer who stopped you receive that amount of training?

Radar devices also require routine maintenance, including calibration, in order to work properly. Many instruction manuals recommend that the operator calibrate the device prior to each usage. In addition, the operator must perform this calibration in a specific manner, usually by means of a special tuning fork. Did the officer who stopped you calibrate his or her device before using it on you? Did (s)he actually use the recommended tuning fork to perform the calibration?

The answers to these and other questions may well make the difference between your ultimate conviction or acquittal. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.