Q&A - Evidence of Radar Calibration

Q&A ImageQuestion: The police officer used a radar gun to check my speed. According to him, there are no records for radar calibration on it. This is a real, live issue for my trial. If the radar gun does not have service records, then how do we know that it is functioning correctly?

Answer: we don’t. So, that brings us to the next issue: is that going to matter for my trial?

At my trial, I will not have  provincial court judge presiding.  Instead,  have a Judicial Justice of the Peace. The difference is that a judge has a law degree (and used to be a lawyer).  And, a justice of the peace was not a lawyer and does not have a law degree.  The significance of that is that traffic court doesn’t strictly apply the rules of evidence (quite frankly) in the same way that provincial courts do.

So, that leaves me with a good argument. But, at the end of the day, the JP might just say, “That is a real issue, but I think he’s guilty. So, here’s my verdict: you’re guilty.” 

Appreciate any info that would help me with my case.

Image asking about police radar calibration

Formal Radar Calibration Records

The radar equipment that I used over my service was rarely sent away for repair. It's pretty durable.

When it was, it was checked for calibration before the service facility returned it, but all that was received was an invoice showing the repair and the test.

The only certificate that I have ever seen came with the device from the manufacturer when it was new.

The Officer Tests the Radar

The lack of service records or a calibration certificate to present is not fatal to the case. The officer will testify that the radar was tested using the procedure required by the manufacturer and was found to be operating properly.

Once that is done, it's up to you to try and show that this was not the case, which I expect is going to be somewhat difficult. You would have to question the officer about how the testing takes place, what the expected results would be and what actually resulted.

If this is all covered adequately by the officer, you would have to move on to something else to call the radar reading into question.

Daily Test Requirements

All radars require tuning forks to be struck and held in front of the antenna that then must produce a specific reading within error limits.

They also do power on self tests and may have a test button of some sort that again produces an expected result. This will vary from unit to unit and manufacturer to manufacturer.

To know what the steps are, the best bet is to arrange to attend at the detachment to examine the radar manual. Take notes on the procedure and examine the officer after their direct testimony if you wish.

Traffic Court Justices

Yes, more often than not the JJP is not a lawyer but they all have legal experience prior to taking the job of working in traffic court.

While personality quirks do show up, for the most part I have only seen a couple of justices that I really wondered about. No doubt there were cases when they thought the same about me.

Fortunately you do have the avenue of appeal to the Supreme Court if you can show that a mistake of law resulted in your conviction.

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Driver's Guide to Police Radar by Craig Peterson is a good book. You'll learn how radar works.

Far as I know the officer technically visualizes you breaking the law and then uses the radar as backup evidence. You might be able to discredit their radar evidence but if they say they saw you speeding you have to also discredit their testimony.

OK..Thank you. So here is the pickle I am in. I need my license for work or I am out of a job. I received an excessive speeding with my "N" license. I won't be able to apply for my full license until October 2014. I have already delayed court once because disclosure wasn't received....it did arrive recently. The officer claimed I was speeding yet he was able to tell me the car right behind me wasn't.....how is a car right behind me not speeding yet I am going excessive......he must have been quick on the draw because he had to flag me over to the side of the road....something I want to know from the officer. If I am able to delay until after October and apply for my full license, will I be able to keep my license if I lose my case? With a current "N" my license would be suspended but it wouldn't be with full. (I will lose my car - 6 years left on loan) and not afford rent/food if I lose my job so keeping my license is crucial....I don't suppose the courts will even care about that.

I appreciate your website and info you have been able to provide....Thank you

Generally, visual observation of vehicles on the highway will give anyone some indication of how fast the vehicles using it are traveling and which are faster or slower than others. We all have this ability to a greater or lesser extent because of our experience. Long time traffic enforcement officers have a lot of practice with this, so you will want to consider asking the officer to elaborate on this, particularly if it appears that the experience is not extensive.

When the officer is on foot, more often than not these days laser is being used rather than radar to measure speed. These are two completely different devices, the laser being highly accurate at targeting vehicles and radar including most if not all of the traffic stream. If the officer was using a laser it is simple to accurately measure the speeds of all vehicles approaching in a group.

Depending on your driving record, if you get your class 5 licence before a conviction for this takes place it is very possible to keep your licence.