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police keep radar calibration records

Police RADAR calibration records

One of the most common things do-it-yourselfer lawyers want the police to produce is the police RADAR calibration records. We see it all of the time. People are in the hallway of the courthouse arguing with the police about obtaining the records of the RADAR calibration. In the end their request gets them nowhere and ultimately they end up running a trial focused on that issue and they find themselves convicted. Why do they fail?

Many people have some idea that a measuring device requires periodic calibration. When you step on your bathroom scale, it may calibrate itself by zeroing itself. When you buy gas, you can see a sticker on the pump speaking of calibration. Breath test devices require calibration tests and recalibration. It makes sense, therefore, that RADAR calibration would be a significant concern in a speeding ticket case. Except it isn’t.

The functioning of the RADAR device is important. Remember, police RADAR doesn’t measure speed. It considers changes to the frequency and wavelength of a radio signal that has bounced back to the device that sent it. The RADAR then interprets the results and indicates on a screen of some sort the estimated speed of an object, presumably the one that reflected the radio signal.

RADAR is quite reliable which is why the police use it and the courts generally accept it, barring evidence that can raise a reasonable doubt. Unlike a breathalyzer, however, calibration in not an issue the courts will entertain. There are good reasons for this.

Unlike breathalyzers, RADAR speed devices come pre calibrated and the police never recalibrate them. They are tested. In BC the testing requirements are fairly significant. They are not, however, calibrated in that the police have no capacity to adjust the calibration or change the calibration. Police RADAR arrives in a box at the police detachment fully calibrated by the manufacturer. The police do not calibrate them.

They are required to test them and maintain records of having done so, however. This is where it can be fruitful to search for records. How many times has the RADAR device been in for repair? Does the officer know the service requirements of the RADAR unit? Does the officer know how to properly test the unit?

A lawyer skilled in cross examination, usually with the manual for each and every RADAR device in their briefcase, can call into question the reliability of the RADAR reading in any particular case. The goal, after all, is to raise a reasonable doubt about an essential element of the case. Does police RADAR calibration come into play? Do the records of the RADAR calibration become an issue? Almost never.

Meaningful disclosure or foolish endeavour

A fool requests disclosure of something that everyone in the room knows doesn’t exist. Often self-represented folks argue in the hallway for the officer to disclose their calibration records. Turns out there aren’t any. For the police it can be an irritant to be asked this over and over. But what it tells them is that the person before them doesn’t know what’s important in a speeding ticket case. And that can be very useful for a police officer. The officer in such a case knows that the person before them is not likely to advance arguments that would succeed in the trial.

For the officer, it’s a cakewalk. People who ask for the officer’s RADAR calibration records do not understand the process and the officer will have a good chance of success prosecuting the matter in court. Police RADAR calibration records for the officer who operated the RADAR will never be disclosed because they don’t exist. If you ask for such records, the message you send to the officer is this will be an easy day in court for them because you don’t know what to ask for.

If you want to be defended by lawyers who know a lot about speeding tickets, the operation of RADAR speed devices and know what disclosure to ask for in a speeding ticket case, just give us a call. We help people from all over British Columbia to defend their speeding tickets.