When it comes to the most common ways in which police officers interact with citizens, traffic stops come at the top of the list. One of the most common reasons why law enforcement officers stop drivers are exceeding the legal speed limits. Usually, the police vehicle seemingly appears out of nowhere, perhaps concealed behind a tree-lined curve in the highway. However, are these speed traps even legal?
Basic Speed Trap Laws in California
Just like other laws that are enforced at the state or local level, it depends on how the jurisdiction defines the term- “Speed Trap.” For example, the California Vehicle Code prohibits the use of “unjustified speed limit traps” and “marked road traps.” A “marked road trap” is described as a highway section “designated, marked, or otherwise determined” for measuring the speed of a car by calculating the time that it takes to travel that specific distance. An “unjustified speed limit trap” is a particular highway section with a very low-speed limit that is not justified by a traffic survey carried out within the past 5 years.
Drivers use the term “speed trap” to describe a range of stealthy tactics that the police use in enforcing speed limits and other traffic regulations.
A majority of these methods are legal, even in the state of California. Therefore, an officer with a radar gun parked behind a tree-lined curve in the highway, or even hidden from view is not always a violation of the traffic laws in California. Since speed enforcement laws differ from one jurisdiction to another, you should check your local laws for more guidance. Generally speaking, police officers are not required to hide when they are enforcing speed limits.
Hidden Police Officers and Hidden Cameras
Use of hidden cameras in the enforcement of speed limits is another different matter. In the state of Arizona, for instance, hidden radar guns were used in checking the motorists’ speed, and then photos were snapped of the speeding cars’ license plates. Those who exceed the speed limits will then get citations in their mailboxes. However, the governor stopped this program in 2010 in response to the complaints about civil liberties.
Police officers cannot use any methods of entrapment – the act of encouraging motorists to flout traffic laws- so that they can arrest them. Though the act of hiding by law enforcement agents is usually referred to as entrapment, this is not always the case. If you are pulled over for speeding, the fact that the police officer was hidden from view can be challenged.
Furthermore, a police officer who is hiding out in a private property must comply if the property owner asks him/her to leave. However, in case a dispute arises between the officer who refuses to leave and a property owner, any arrests or tickets made by the police officer will remain valid and they cannot be challenged on that single fact. Therefore, even if the police officer is trespassing, you can still be on the hook for that particular traffic ticket.
Property owners usually welcome police officers to their driveway for the sole reason of taming traffic near their properties. What if a police officer parks on a private driveway or road that has been marked with a “no trespassing” sign? Well, the same rule will apply. The homeowner can file a complaint against the police officer for disregarding the sign. However, any legal arrests or stops made from that particular location will remain valid.
Have You Been Subjected to an Illegal Speed Trap? What are Your Legal Options
Getting pulled over for speeding is never a pleasant experience. However, even if you never exceeded the speed limit, there are some circumstances in which the police officers may have overstepped their boundaries. In case you believe that you were subjected to an illegal speed trap, you will need to talk to the best traffic ticket experts in the area.
While defending yourself against a speeding ticket in a traffic court is possible, it is not always the best option for you. To begin with, there are some things that a driver needs to be aware of before going to court. These things will impact their ability to defend themselves in traffic court. The first thing is that you must know as a driver is the kind of speed law that you were ticketed under, was it absolute, basic or presumed?
When it comes to jurisdictions that use absolute laws, the traffic violation is straightforward. In case the driver exceeds the speed limit that has been posted by any measure, they will be charged with speeding. For counties that use presumed laws, things can be very complicated, as far as understanding the definition of speeding. Nonetheless, the flexibility which is created by this ambiguity provides an opportunity for the drivers to challenge the ticket in a traffic court. Essentially, under presumed laws, like those in California, drivers can exceed the speed limits on some roads, as long as they can demonstrate that they were driving safely.
For the basic speed laws, it can be very tricky to defend your case. This is because you can get a speed ticket even if you were traveling under the speed limit that has been posted, as long as the police officer determines that you were traveling at a speed which was unsafe to other road users under the present conditions.
The second thing that drivers must be aware of is the method that the officer uses in measuring speed, for example, VASCAR laser, aircraft, pacing, and radar. Many variables can be associated with speeding laws, it is almost impossible for a police officer to consider them all when issuing a speeding ticket. Therefore, it is possible that a officer can issue a speeding ticket that is in direct violation of a specific statute which can lead to a dismissal.