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Laser and radar serve the same purpose but they are really different entities, which are achieving a common goal. Radar uses a radio beam and measures at the speed of sound while laser uses a light beam and takes measurement based on the speed of light. A typical radar beam is between 15 and 18 degrees wide. Laser is considerably more precise with a beam width of one sixth of one degree. At a distance of 1 mile a radar beam can expand to over 500 feet wide. A laser beam will only expand to 19 feet wide. At a more common distance of 1000 feet radar will expand to over 100 feet wide, while laser expands to only 3 feet wide. Despite its accuracy, laser is not unbeatable. It is affected by weather conditions. Fog, clouds and rain can significantly reduce the operating range. You may not use it through a windshield, and it must be used as a stationary set up. Calibration and maintenance may only be done by a factory trained specialist at an authorized repair facility. Laser beams usually target a vehicles license plate. In order to work properly, light must reflect off the surface of the vehicle and the license plate is designed to be highly reflective for that purpose. If you have a low vehicle with little or no chrome, it is difficult for a laser to detect you. In order to avoid a laser, you should coat your license plate with a high gloss clear coat so as to deflect the beam.

Before using a laser beam, it should be calibrated by using all three of the following methods:
The self test button should be used and the resultant should be
Pointing the unit at a stationery target should result in a reading of 0 mph. The audio and sight tones should be tested by sweeping across a telephone pole.

In this country, the most commonly used laser detector is the Marksman LTI 20.20. The manufacturer says that they will have a beam width of two feet at a distance of 1300 feet. The accuracy is claimed to be precise within 1 mph up to 60 mph and within 3 % for speeds over 60 mph. This unit does have some downfalls. The Marksman has an unusual distribution of beam intensity which gives you changes in the aiming point. The Marksman can actually detect another vehicle within five feet of the target vehicle. In order to prepare against a laser defense you have to know what the jurisdiction for laser cases is in the area that your citation was issued. There are only a few states that have given laser judicial notice, which basically is a legal ruling that establishes specific evidence as beyond dispute. Radar has judicial notice in every state. If there is no judicial notice entered in the state in which you are appealing your ticket, the prosecutor needs to have an expert witness testifying to the accuracy and reliability of the unit. If that witness is the manufacturer’s representative you can have him disqualified since his company has a financial interest of that particular case, and he may be impartial. New Jersey Superior Court Judge Reginald Stanton stated in his June 13, 1996 ruling that he was not convinced of the accuracy of the LTI Marksman. He ruled that any readings taken with that unit would not be accepted as evidence in any pending or speeding ticket cases. If the state in which you are appealing your ticket has been awarded judicial notice you might want to review the New Jersey case when you prepare. The rest of the case is very similar in how you would handle a radar defense. Concentrate on the training of the officer, the self test methods and the calibrations of the unit, what the weather conditions were, and the amount of traffic that was traveling at the time the citation was issued. Your best bet still is that the officer does not show up in court. You should however, be properly prepared in case he does.


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