The attorneys of the Gordon Law Firm have helped clients charged with speeding and Reckless Driving throughout Northern Virginia. Part of our law firm’s success has been dependent upon learning about the equipment used by law enforcement when they issue citations for Speeding and Reckless Driving in Virginia.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia more than 200,000 speeding tickets and Reckless Driving charges are issued each year by local police and State Troopers. There are three main methods law enforcement officers in Fairfax County use determine the speed of our cars and trucks. These methods are Radar, LIDAR (or laser), and/or by pacing the speeding vehicle.
How Radar Guns Work
The word “Radar” is an abbreviation for “Radio Detection and Ranging”. It is imperative that police officers who use radar guns are well-trained and have a good working knowledge of how radar works.
The typical police radar gun uses radio waves and the Doppler Effect to determine the speed of a moving car. The Doppler Effect states that the measured frequency of a wave is relative to the motion between the source and the observer. When a radar signal hits the object that is moving toward the police vehicle, the returning frequency will be higher than the original. When the signal hits a car that is moving away from the police vehicle, the returning frequency will be lower than the original frequency. The frequency change is used to determine the speed of the target vehicle.
For instance, when a radar gun is used by Fairfax police on the Dulles Toll Road, the radar sends radio waves of specific frequencies in a chosen direction. The waves then bounce off all objects, including vehicles, and return to the radar gun’s receiving station in the squad car. When the waves reflect off a moving vehicle, a measurable frequency shift, called the Doppler Shift, occurs. The radar gun computer then uses the frequency shift to calculate the speed of the moving vehicle. The Fairfax police officer or State Trooper hears the squelch of the frequency change that alerts him to the speeding vehicle.
The beam that emanates from the radar gun is conical in shape and continues outward indefinitely from the antenna until it is reflected, refracted, or absorbed. This radar beam transmits low level, non-ionizing radio frequency electromagnetic radiation. According to scientific research, the emission levels resulting from traffic radar do not pose risk to the operator of the radar or the occupants of vehicles being targeted.
There are five types of radar guns that are regularly used in Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions: the Kustom Pro-1000, the KR-12, the Talon, the Stalker, and the Golden Eagle.
The Golden Eagle, made by Kustom electronics, is used in most State Trooper vehicles in Northern Virginia for speeding and reckless driving tickets. Because many of our clients have been stopped by Troopers using this device, the Gordon Law Firm purchased its own Golden Eagle radar. We have used the Golden Eagle and its operations manual to learn how the radar is properly used, the requirements for calibration and testing. and to be able to present to the court demonstrative evidence of how the device can produce inaccurate results through computer or operator error.
How LIDAR Works
LIDAR (Laser Radar, Ladar) is an acronym for Light Detection And Ranging.
According to scientific research, Lidar (laser radar, ladar) does not emit any harmful radiation. The Lidar laser beam shoots 280 pulses per second and at 1,000 feet the beam is 3 feet square. The Laser Radar Beam travels 186,282 miles per second and that is 1 foot per billionth of a second.
The beam is usually aimed at the front of the car or rear license plate of a suspected speeding car. The LIDAR cannot be effectively operated from a moving police vehicle. Unlike RADAR, the LIDAR can target specific vehicles to determine the speed. Judges believe that the Lidar is more accurate and we at the Gordon law Firm have been working hard to dispel that myth.
Because the LIDAR is a precision instrument the testing, calibration, and operation in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications is very important. This is especially true when a person can be convicted of a Class One Misdemeanor for Reckless Driving by simply speeding.
The Pro-Laser III, made by Kustom electronics, is used in many police vehicles in Northern Virginia to issue speeding and reckless driving tickets. Because many of our clients have been stopped by law enforcement using this device, The Gordon Law Firm purchased its own laser speed measuring device, the last generation Pro-Laser II. We have used the Pro-Laser II as demonstrative evidence at trial and we have reviewed and the operations manual of its newer cousin, the Pro-Laser III, to learn how it is properly used. We are also very familiar with the requirements for calibration and testing of the Pro-Laser III. This is important in order to be able to present effective arguments in court concerning how the device can produce inaccurate results through computer or operator error.
We hope that the following information assists you in understanding how the officer came to believe that you were exceeding the speed limit in Fairfax County. Our criminal defense firm uses this information to attempt to successfully challenge Reckless Driving and Speeding charges at trial or obtain a favorable resolution of the case prior to trial. If you have any questions or would like a free consultation, please us at 1.703.218.8416.