Sunday, March 15, 2009

Laser Readings Inadmissible in Florida?

Challenging speeding tickets has been the subject of many websites that are used by pro se litigants who don't want to pay their speeding fines, but the tools are especially valuable to lawyers who practice in the areas of DUI, Drug Cases, or any other crime involving a traffic stop. Civil lawyers may also benefit from challenging a laser or radar reading if it is to be presented as evidence in an accident case.

Section 316.1906, Florida Statutes, deals with the admissibility of "Radar speed-measuring devices" and comes complete with definitions, defining the term "Radar" as meaning:

(e) "Radar" means law enforcement speed radar, any laser-based or microwave-based speed-measurement system employed by a law enforcement agency to detect the speed of motorists.

It is clear from the definition of radar in the statute that laser readings are governed by the same rules and regulations as radar, at least as it pertains to the language of the statute. Of course, the regulations of the administrative code still apply and those make clear the distinctions between radar and laser requirements. The specific authority which make those administrative code requirements so effective in the admissibility of the speeding tickets is subsection (2)(f) of 316.1906.

However, section 316.1906(2) has a total of six subsections, and the state must prove them all in order to admit evidence of any radar-speed measuring device. Remember again, that laser is included in the definition of "Radar."

One clear issue which presented itself during preparation for a speeding trial involving laser, is 316.1906(2)(e) which requires that the officer "Is operating radar with the audio Doppler engaged."

Anyone who has ever been in a police car with a radar unit engaged knows the sound that audio doppler makes with its increase in pitch correlating to the speed of the vehicle being clocked by the radar. The statute also defines what the term audio doppler is, by stating:
(a) "Audio Doppler" means a backup audible signal that translates the radar's Doppler shift into a tone which can be heard by the radar operator.
While light has a doppler shift, no laser units (to the best of my knowledge) are made with an audible signal that translates that shift into a tone which can be heard. Is all evidence of speed measured by laser in Florida inadmissible?