Written by Gregory Monte.
One of the most popular ways to fight a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania is to argue that the Commonwealth failed to fulfill one of the requirements of Title 75, Section 3368 – Speed Timing Devices. Usually this means suggesting that the radar gun wasn’t certified or properly approved by the Department of Transportation.
Defendants take this approach because they understand that the only sure-fire way to beat a ticket is to find a technicality that the judge has no choice but to accept. No one with any experience in traffic court thinks that a judge is going to believe his testimony over that of a police officer.
Two blog posts ago, I discussed one particularly creative way of fighting a speeding ticket that I had read about. The defendant claimed that the tape measure used to mark off the section of road he was timed over hadn’t been tested in the previous 60 days to make sure that it was still working properly. The basis for his claim was Title 75, Section 3368(d):
“Electronic devices commonly referred to as electronic speed meters or radar shall have been tested for accuracy within a period of one year prior to the alleged violation. Other devices shall have been tested for accuracy within a period of 60 days prior to the alleged violation.”
His point was that the tape measure used by the police was one of the “other devices” that required testing.
Needless to say, the judge didn’t buy this line of thought, and he lost his appeal.
Well, I found another court case where a creative strategy was used – Commonwealth v. Gilbert, 36 Pa. D. & C. 3d 100 – Pa: Court of Common Pleas 1984.
Mr. Gilbert was issued a speeding ticket way back in September of 1983. A PA State Trooper, using his speedometer over a distance of 4/10 of a mile, determined that Gilbert was traveling 72 mph in a 55 mph zone. In court, the Commonwealth provided proof that the speedometer was properly tested and certified. In addition, it properly argued that the distance over which Gilbert was timed was appropriate, since the law only requires 3/10 of a mile.
Mr. Gilbert’s creative idea was to argue that, although the speedometer was certainly tested, the odometer was not. If you think about it, this sounds like a legitimate contention to make. After all, if an odometer is not working properly, how can the police officer know if he has really timed a suspect for the correct 3/10 of a mile? Gilbert argued that 3368(d) applied in his case:
“Other devices shall have been tested for accuracy within a period of 60 days prior to the alleged violation.”
Just like in the tape measure case, Gilbert considered the odometer to be one of the “other devices.”
On the surface it would appear that Gilbert had a much stronger case than the guy with the tape measure, but the judge disagreed:
“Those contentions are devoid of merit. Defendant’s counsel has failed to cite and this court has been unable to find any authority for the proposition that the Commonwealth is obligated to prove certification of the accuracy of a police vehicle’s odometer.”
I see the judge’s point here, but am not convinced that he is correct. I have only just started my research into Title 75, Section 3368 (I have at least 50 other cases to review), so I want to leave open the possibility that another judge also ruled on this technicality.
Don’t Be A Sheep
What I can say now, for sure, is what I said in my earlier blog post.
You have to hand it to Mr. Gilbert. He had some serious balls to try to get a judge to accept this defense in a court of law. I think that he should be applauded for the effort.
Unlike Mr. Gilbert, most citizens of our Great Commonwealth choose to act like sheep when they are issued tickets. They feel guilty that they got caught doing what the state has forbidden, and meekly hand over their hard-earned money when they get a traffic ticket.
I started Stop-Sign-Ticket.Com in order to change the minds of citizens when it comes to traffic tickets, and I am writing these blog posts in order to encourage as many as possible that they need to fight back.
Hopefully I will inspire many to “be a sheep no more.”