Skip to main content
calibration checks are important

Why you should always request calibration checks in speeding cases

When mounting a defence against a speeding ticket in traffic court, it is essential the accused obtains all of the evidence against them. This includes calibration checks of the device used in the investigation.

Ostensibly, speeding is black or white. You either exceeded the limit or you didn’t. In reality, however, in order to convict someone of the offence, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual drove over the limit.­ In order to do so, they need evidence.

The defendant is legally entitled to disclosure of all the evidence used against them. This includes calibration and repair records of the speed measuring device the police used.

How police calculate speed

In order to calculate the speed of a vehicle, police in BC use a combination of visual estimation and the reading from a speed measuring device. For the visual estimation part, officers are trained to eyeball a moving vehicle and judge how fast it’s moving. They’re usually pretty accurate. However, a visual estimation is usually not enough to secure a conviction. For the most part, an officer needs to corroborate their guess with a laser speed detection system.

Police measure the speed at which a vehicle is travelling by pointing the instrument at the target. Laser signals bounce off the vehicle and return to the device. The device measures the time taken for the signals to return to calculate its speed.

Why calibration checks are important

Understandably, if these devices are used to convict people of speeding, at the very least, they should work. Speeding tickets result in a fine, penalty points, added insurance costs. In some cases, speeding contributes towards a driving prohibition. With so much at stake, all devices undergo regular calibration checks to ensure they are working as they should. Not only that, but police must keep a record of these checks. If the Crown fails to provide calibration checks, it is enough to establish a reasonable doubt that the device is not in proper working condition.

If the Crown does not prove a device is accurate, the Court will dismiss the speeding charge.

What if there are no calibration checks?

A good traffic ticket lawyer will be able to look at calibration records and identify any holes in the evidence. If the police officer fails to disclose the records altogether, count your lucky stars.

In this case, a driver convicted of speeding lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court of BC. The central issue of the driver’s defence was the investigating officer’s failure to disclose the manual of the speed measuring device used to calculate his speed.

The appellant argued that the length of time since the device’s last calibration, 40 months, contrasted with the regular checks called for in the manual. The Supreme Court judge granted the appeal and overturned the conviction.  

Why a lawyer can help

If you want to challenge a speeding ticket, you would do well to hire a lawyer. Disclosure of information such as calibration checks is crucial to a good defence. Call the BC Driving Lawyers, free, on 604-608-1200.