Laser Speeding Ticket Versus Radar: What You Should Know

Not all speeding tickets are created equal: if you’ve been ticketed for speeding, it’s important to know how your speed was calculated. Here, the legal professionals at Scholnick Law explain the difference between laser and radar calculations, and how they will impact your defense.

Radar Speeding Ticket

Radar stands for “Radio Detection/Direction and Ranging.” For determining car speeds, Radar sends and receives radio signals that bounce off the moving vehicle. Through consideration of the Doppler Effect, the radar device can then calculate the speed of the vehicle based on the changes in the value of the returning signal.

There are many ways that a radar speed reading can be challenged in court. For one, a radar device requires the use of a tuning fork to keep it calibrated and ensure it is sending out accurate signals—if one wasn’t used to recalibrate the device within the correct timeframe, its reading could be inaccurate. Radar devices are also more prone to error than other speed detection devices, as they can be seriously impacted by the metal in surrounding cars and road signs, as well as by electromagnetic emissions from power lines and roadside transformers. Lastly, it is required under Maryland law for officers using radar devices to take a course on how to properly use it: if the officer was not properly trained, it is possible to argue that human error caused a faulty reading.

Laser Speeding Ticket

Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Infrared light is emitted from the device, targeting the vehicle in question, and bouncing back to the device. A calculation is made based off the time the laser takes to travel back, and by the difference in laser burst distances. Laser guns can be very accurate—some models boast an accuracy of within one mile per hour up to 60 miles per hour, and an accuracy of within three percent for speeds over 60 miles per hour. That being said, laser guns are not infallible.

Excessive cloud cover, rain, wind or fog can negatively impact a laser’s reading. Laser guns are ineffective through windshields, and must be kept stationary to provide accurate speed readings. Other nearby reflective surfaces can divert the laser, and if it lands on a non-reflective surface of the vehicle it is measuring, a reading won’t be accurately produced. As with radar guns, laser guns require calibration and testing to maintain accuracy. Officers are also required to be trained in laser use—if they haven’t, they could negatively impact the reading.

How a Traffic Attorney Can Help

It is obvious that laser and radar speed recording devices are not perfect, and receiving a ticket based on one of these device’s measurements does not make for automatic guilty verdict in your speeding ticket case. An experienced traffic attorney will fight for you in court, asking all the critical questions regarding the accuracy of the speed measurement device used. If you have been given a ticket for speeding, or any other traffic-related offenses, don’t simply accept it—fight it! With the help of Scholnick Law you can get the chance in court you deserve. We urge you to contact us today for a legal consultation.

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