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BEATING A SPEEDING TICKET WITH MATH

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by Challenge, Jul 26, 2004.

  1. Challenge

    Challenge Formula 3

    Sep 27, 2002
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    OK, all you [civil] engineer types I need your help.

    I received a nice little yellow summons for speeding (40 in a 25, how lame) on my way to work this morning. The method used was "ESP," a two-laser contraption that measures the time it takes for your front tires to cross the lasers which are only 3 ft apart. I want to prove that 3 ft is not a statistically accurate distance to measure my speed if I was accelerating.

    Now I know the old "rate = distance / time" formula, but I'd like to go beyond that with a judge. It's a long time since engineering calculus in college (I started as a mechanical engineer but switched to ECON later) but I do remember that acceleration = (distance / time) squared. I want to prove that it is mathematically possible for my rate per the ESP device to be 40mph, while registering less than that on my speedometer. For intance, if I accelerated quickly from 10mph to 25mph (rate of change) across that 3-ft span, could that device not kick out a falsely high reading (rate)? I mean...there's no way I know of for a device to measure acceleration, only rate. Am I onto something here?

    If it makes any difference I was in my Jeep, not a sportscar. (I'd prefer not to get into calibrations if I can help it). Thanks for any and all creativity.
     
  2. Doody

    Doody F1 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2001
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    hmmm.. three feet is a REALLY small distance. and they presumably use such a very small distance on purpose.

    let's say you were going 25MPH. that's 36.66667 feet per second. that means you crossed those three feet in .08182 seconds - that's 81 milliseconds.

    for the sake of argument, let's say your jeep can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 6.0 seconds. if you assume linear acceleration (obviously not the case) that's 10 MPH per second, so in .08182 seconds you could accelerate 0.81820 MPH.

    i think you'd have to be able to argue an order of magnitude faster acceleration than that (8MPH increase in that 81 milliseconds) - which you almost certainly cannot do - in order to impress the judge.

    and then you'd probably have to explain to the judge why you were driving a Jeep as if you were on a NASCAR track.

    though it's QUITE possible you could confuse him or her with math - i don't know too many judges who were physics or math majors in college!

    doody.
     
  3. hwyengr

    hwyengr Formula Junior

    Apr 9, 2004
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    You don't happen to have a winch on the front of your Jeep, do you? And if so, could the hook have been dangling near the ground, swaying gently back and forth?

    I don't think you're going to be able to fight it based on math. Despite whatever acceleration variations there might be, distance/time will always give the average speed over the distance. So, you might have been going faster or slower than 40 when you triggered each of the lasers, but your average speed over those 3 feet was 40 mph.

    To beat this one, you'll have to find some way that something on your car broke the 2nd laser before whatever broke the first laser broke the 2nd laser. If the laser was broken by two items, not in the same lateral location on your car, then you have a time measurement over an unknown distance, thereby invalidating the system.
     
  4. RacerX_GTO

    RacerX_GTO F1 World Champ
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  5. MarkG

    MarkG Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
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    quote: " want to prove that it is mathematically possible for my rate per the ESP device to be 40mph, while registering less than that on my speedometer"

    Moot point; law in most states does not stipulate that you need either a speedometer OR an accurate speedo. Traffic laws for the most part are 'strict liability' laws, i.e. no real defense, the fact that you were speeding is considered in and of itself proof of guilt; Mens Rea / intent are not a necessary element of the offense, and as such an inaccurate speedometer is not a defense.
     
  6. need4speed

    need4speed Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2003
    1,597
    Pacific Palisades
    I did this when I was going to college. I prepared my case using all the formulas and calculations. I took pictures of the street. I made graphical charts of acceleration curves and everything. Poor starving students cannot afford speeding tickets.

    In the end...the officer didn't show up in court.

    Moral of the story, if you have the time to contest a ticket, you have a 50/50 chance of the officer not showing up.

    Good luck
     
  7. Alxlee

    Alxlee F1 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2002
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    In my state, that theory doesn't work. With the State Troopers they get docked a days pay for not showing up to a court case. Don't think that applies to the County/Local police though. I know another local agency in a state north of me offers officers $100 for each case they show up to make sure they get to court on time.

    You might be better off arguing that the equipment wasn't set up properly. How can they guarantee that it was three feet between trips? Or that it picked up something other than your car.
     
  8. Challenge

    Challenge Formula 3

    Sep 27, 2002
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    Thanks for all the responses. I think I have formulated a case based on some other factors. I'll keep you posted.
     
  9. bobafett

    bobafett F1 Veteran

    Sep 28, 2002
    9,193
    You can show that your intent was not to speed (ie you were not conscious of if speedo read slower).

    Also - fudge the math. I have done this before (used 3 for pi, etc) - it works.

    --Dan
     
  10. DrStranglove

    DrStranglove FChat Assassin
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    Speaking as an Engineer you dont have a chance if the judge knows any math at all. Plus, like Doody said, you car cannot acell fast enough to give a really odd reading, IE +/ say 5 MPH in the 3 feet in question.

    That said, this is REALLY true;

    ""though it's QUITE possible you could confuse him or her with math - i don't know too many judges who were physics or math majors in college!""

    If a person in LawSchool did math at all, they would be in Med School!!!
     
  11. infraredline

    infraredline Formula 3

    Mar 15, 2004
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    While confusion may be a goal once you get to court, don't confuse yourself with the math.
    Acceleration is not a legitemate mathmatical defense because the device in question measures only average speed over the distance.
    In fact, to suggest that your speed was not constant is actually an admission that you were at some point going FASTER than the measured 40 mph.
    For example if you accellerated linearly accross a distance from 38 mph to 42 mph, the average speed would be 40 mph.
    There has got to be another way to defend yourself - good luck my friend.
     
  12. Challenge

    Challenge Formula 3

    Sep 27, 2002
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    I agree with Doody & Infraredline wholeheartedly that my Jeep can't accel like a NASCAR or even do a 6.0-sec 0-60. (more like 15!) You really can't argue with the r=d/t equation and I'd have to believe that since here in PA only state cops can legally use RADAR (I was nabbed by a local pig) that any local judge would be familar with basic speed enforcement devices and their corresponding math. To show up armed only disputing this would be a total waste.

    I spent some time researching PA law re: speed timing devices. One requirement is that cops cannot monitor speed within 500 ft after a speed limit sign which indicates a decrease in speed limit. well, well! The street I was on WAS posted as 35mph for many blocks prior to dropping to 25mph. I got lasered roughly 300-350 ft after the 2nd 25mph sign. But here's the kicker: the FIRST 25mph sign was completely obscurred by a tree! I will argue that the 'effective' drop in speed limit was the 2nd sign (the only one visible to drivers) and therefore the speed trap's location violated PA distance requirements for speed timing devices.

    Oh, and my photos of the tree blocking the sign should be developed by now...
     
  13. Doody

    Doody F1 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2001
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    i've gotten off before on signs obscured by unkempt foliage. it's a totally fair argument. it is not reasonable to prosecute someone for a sign that's not visible!

    doody.
     
  14. DrStranglove

    DrStranglove FChat Assassin
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    Last time I was in court for a ticket, I just plead insanity.

    "But you Honor, who in their right mind would park in the passing lane?"
     
  15. davem

    davem F1 Veteran
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    Jan 21, 2002
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    If you take this all the way too the judge....Good luck...And bring a lawyer.
    Math will be the least of your problems.
    OTOH plea innocent and the prosecuter will hopefully cut this down saving points on your liscense.
    Last ticket i recieved they simply nulled in the mail since they were so behind!
     
  16. richard_wallace

    richard_wallace Formula 3
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    Feb 6, 2004
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    Another avenue to travel - and a little trick that fools another aspect of the process.

    Say your ticket is 67 dollars... Pay it with a check written out for 70 dollars (or any amount over 67 - even 67.50 would work)

    The court system will kick out a refund check - for the difference... Don't cash it. The courts computer systems will hold this "account" in limbo for whatever the state maximum time is for check validity (normally 3 years). Until that time is past or the refund check is cashed - this will remain in "limbo" - AKA not reported to insurance - since it is not cleared. Most insurance companies will only poke around 3 years for rate increases.

    *** Note and discalimer - I have not tried this nor do I condone this type of behavior ****

    With that said - pretty sure this works from what I have heard :) Oddly I have not had a "ticket" in years...
     
  17. Billy10mm

    Billy10mm Formula Junior

    Nov 11, 2003
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    Wives tale. Doesn't work. You pay, you guilty. If you're too stupid to cash a refund check, that's your own problem. This "trick" has been around the net more often than the governor of California around the Heidy Fleiss masion ... quite a few people have tried to use this and gotten wonderful points for it.

    I go to court more often than most people speed ... not get caught speeding, but actually speed. Case in point I was in traffic court at 3PM yesterday. Don't get a lawyer unless you're dealing with something more than 4 points ... you won't need one. Just go to court, talk with the prosecuter, and most of the time he'll reduce it to a non-moving violation and you'll pay a fine + court costs if you haven't been slapped with a DWI, reckless, a 5+ point violation, and your speeding didn't involve an accident. If the prosecuter is unwilling to negotiate or only wants to knock it down to a 2-point violation, refuse the deal and when you get up in front of the judge, inform him that you need more time to retain council as you were unable to find a traffic lawyer in your community who could attend today's hearing. The judge will reschedule you. Now begin the delaying process.

    Delay, delay, delay. I once delayed a 6-point violation (77 in a 50) for a little over 4 years and by the time I went to court the cop had no notes at all on my case, no recollection of my incident, and couldn't answer any of my questions. In NYC it's easy because the cop must prove his case to the judge first, then the defendent defends. Not all juristictions are like this, but remember, you are innocent until proven guilty. Ask the cop to produce the calibration charts for that radar unit on that day (all radar units should be calibrated at least once a day, some require calibration 2 or 3 times a day). If it was a highway, ask him what mile marker he was stationed at when he clocked you speeding. If it was in the city, ask what the cross street was (if it's not written on the ticket). If he's unable to answer any important question, ask for dismissal on due to insufficient evidence. In a traffic case, the cops testimony is 90% of the evidence unless they keep video of the incident or something (which I've never seen) ... so if you can prove that the cop doesn't properly rememer the scenario, you go home with an un-touched license. Most of the time, if the cop can't find notes on the ticket, he won't bother showing up for it anyway. This is why delaying works.

    I once had a cop state in testimony in a Manhattan court that he approached the driver's side window on my "red Honda" (he read the make/color off the ticket) and collected my driver's license and registration after making an illegal left hand turn. After his testimony I asked him one question, "Did you say that you approached my driver's side window?" to which he replied yes. Without another word I handed my registration to the judge and pointed to the line for "vehicle type". I walked out the door point-free less than 15 seconds later. I was on a motorcycle.

    You can also try the resonable and prudent card (which I used yesterday and won). I went to court yesterday for a 53 in a 30 in Yonkers from a little over 2 years ago. (Delay!!!!!!) The cop actually showed and still had his notes (dammit!) but I had taken pictures and explained my situation to the judge. I had taken the exit ramp off the Cross County Parkway West onto Rt 87 South. Not being familiar with that area, I was let off the exit ramp into a 4-lane wide single-direction non-residential road that served as a service road to the highway. I however, thought it actually WAS the highway being 4 lanes wide. I was hit with radar 50-feet after entering the roadway, about 30 feet after I had passed the 30mph speed limit sign. I explained to the judge that I originally argued with the officer that there was no speed limit sign and was shown that in fact there was. But I mentioned that the placement of the speed limit sign was such that I missed it because I was merging left onto a 4-lane road and was concentrating on traffic on my left side, not the sign on the right side of the road. Given the fact that it's a 4 lane wide non-residential road that I had believed was Rt 87 (which was not a lie), I felt that my speed was reasonable and prudent. To be honest, I didn't think it would work ... but it did.

    I currently have no points on my license ... and before I get flamed to high hell for my "recklessness". I don't speed through residential areas, I don't weave through traffic, I don't even play when there's traffic around. I have a huge distaste for even coming close to tailgating so I give everyone plenty of room. I'm not a big drinker and have never driven drunk, and I've got quite a few track events under my belt with the BMW CCA so I believe myself to be a "safer than average". I also tend to keep everything I drive in tip-top shape. I've never caused an accident aside from a few minor single-vehicle mishaps regarding a motorcycle and a sudden loss of traction.

    Bill in Brooklyn
    '03 K1200LT-C
    '02 K1200LT-C
    '01 CBR929
    '01 CBR929
    '00 CBR929
    '98 Valkyrie Tourer
    '97 VFR750
     
  18. hwyengr

    hwyengr Formula Junior

    Apr 9, 2004
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    Jeremy
    The Illinois Secretary of State's offices (at least the Chicago-North location) have a placard at the payment window stating something to the effect of, "By signing your check, you authorize the Secretary of State to decrease your payment amount as applicable."
     
  19. millemiglia

    millemiglia Formula Junior

    Jan 14, 2003
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    Great post, Bill!

    // Peter
     
  20. tifosi

    tifosi F1 Veteran
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    Sep 5, 2001
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    yeah but this means you will get a 40 in a 35 :)
     
  21. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
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    Measuring the time it takes you to go a certain distance is used to give your AVERAGE speed. It doesnt matter if you are accelerating or not. The speed quoted was your average speed between the two points so you were speeding no matter how you cut the cake. If you plead not guilty you can probably end up with no points and just pay a fine for something else.
     

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