Issues with Accuracy or Range of Accuracy
Many times, lawyers ask for the calibration sheet because they feel they should. But they either never actually examine it or do not understand what it says. Often times, the calibration sheet will show that the officer's speedometer (in a PACE case) is off by one or two miles per hour. Moreover, certain radar/laser calibrations state that they are only accurate within one or two miles per hour. That means the speed stated on your summons could be overstated by one or two miles per hour. This may not mean much if you are far in excess of any statutory limit. But, for example, if you are observed driving 75 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone, you will be charged with reckless driving under Virginia Code Section 46.2-862 because you are driving at least 20 miles per hour over the limit. However, if the calibration is off by just one mile per hour, this alone may get you out of the criminal reckless driving grade offense and into a simple speeding charge.
The term "PACE" has been mentioned a number of times. This is a procedure police officers use to determine the speed of a vehicle without using a radar or laser unit. An officer initiates a PACE of another vehicle by either positioning himself directly behind the other vehicle or slightly behind the vehicle in the second lane over. The officer then attempts to keep himself equidistant from the other vehicle, neither gaining nor losing ground. As the officer does this, he looks at his speedometer to determine the speed of the other vehicle. The officer must have a properly calibrated speedometer in his vehicle for this method to be admissible in court. This is probably the procedure people charged with reckless driving find the most controversial. Most people are shocked to learn that a PACE is a very commonly used - and regularly accepted - method of determining speed. However, it also can be fertile ground for cross-examination in a reckless driving case.
Continue to Part C of this article.
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