In California it is illegal to admit evidence in a speeding ticket case when a “speed trap” is involved. Evidence obtained from use of a speed trap is inadmissible in proceedings on a charge involving the speed of a vehicle. See Vehicle Code §§40801, 40803(a), 40805. So the important question is what is considered a speed trap? A “speed trap” is defined under law as either of the following:
• A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that a vehicle’s speed may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance. Veh C§40802(a)(1); or
• A particular section of a highway with a prima facie speed limit provided by the Vehicle Code or local ordinance that is not justified by an engineering and traffic survey conducted within five years before the date of the alleged violation, and when enforcement involves the use of radar or other electronic devices that measure the speed of moving objects. Veh C §40802(a)(2). This provision does not apply to local streets, roads, or school
zones as defined in Veh C §40802(b). Veh C §40802(a)(2).
According to one Kern County Speeding Ticket Lawyer, when radar or another electronic device is used to enforce a prima facie speed limit on a nonlocal road, the speed trap law is invoked, and a current engineering and traffic survey is needed to justify the speed limit. People v Cooper (2002) 101 CA4th Supp 1, 7. If there is a survey conducted within five years before the date of the alleged violation that justifies the prima facie speed limit, the speed trap law does not apply. A survey may be extended to seven or ten years, and the speed trap law will also not apply if the prosecution proves all of the following (Vehicle Code section 40802(c)(1)):
• If radar was used, the arresting officer has successfully completed a radar operator course of at least 24 hours on the use of police traffic radar, and this course has been approved and certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST);
• If laser or any other electronic device (e.g., light detection and ranging (LIDAR)) was used, and the arresting officer has successfully completed a 24-hour POST-certified radar course, plus at least two hours of additional POST-certified training on use of the device;
• The arresting officer who wrote the ticket has complied with these training requirements and that an engineering and traffic survey that justifies the prima facie speed limit has been conducted within the past seven years or within the past ten years if a registered engineer evaluates the section of the highway and determines that no significant changes
in roadway or traffic conditions have occurred (Veh C §40802(c)(2)(B));
• Before the arresting officer issued the ticket, the officer established that the radar, laser, or other electronic device used to measure the defendant’s speed meets or exceeds the minimal operational standards of the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, and has been calibrated by an independent certified laser or radar repair and testing or calibration facility within three years before the date of the alleged violation; and
• The accused’s speed was unsafe for the conditions present at the time of the violation—unless the citation was for a violation of Veh C §22349 (exceeding 65 mph or 55 mph), §22356 (exceeding posted 70 mph), or §22406 (exceeding 55 mph in specified vehicle.
Citations in this article were taken from the California Judicial Benchguide and all legal authorities are deemed reliable, however should specific advice be required regarding a particular case, contact a Kern County Speeding Ticket Attorney who can explain the options in any given matter.