How California Traffic Law Treats Speed Traps

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We all know that speed traps are tools for enforcing speed regulations in the goal of deterring traffic for safety reasons and/or maximizing revenue through speeding tickets. We have seen police officers hidden from motorists’ view on several road locations holding speed radar guns waiting for would be violators of the speed limit. In recent times, the position occupied by uniformed officers has been replaced by speed cameras that record information of speeding violations.

Speed traps have been used by governments for years. Ever since the radar gun technology came out, law enforcers have jumped on the opportunity to entrap motorists for violating speed limits that are often absurdly low by standards. At times, confusing or the lack of traffic/speed limit signs contribute to woe of motorists and are used extensively by uniformed officers to extort costly speeding tickets.

However, unlike other cities, California traffic law treats speed traps differently. According to California law, evidence obtained from speed traps is not admissible in court. Law enforcers need to prove at trial that you have been speeding by presenting certified engineering surveys justifying the posted speed limits. Moreover, the law considers the operation standards of devices and the police officers’ training.

Among the pertinent facts about speed traps in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) include the following:

40801 – Speed Trap Prohibition “”No peace officer or other person shall use a speed trap in arresting, or participating or assisting in the arrest of, any person for any alleged violation of this code nor shall any speed trap be used in securing evidence as to the speed of any vehicle for the purpose of an arrest or prosecution under this code.”

40802 – Speed Trap Definition A “speed trap” is either of the following: (a) A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that the speed of a vehicle may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance.”

This prohibition in the law has been the target of law makers for years. And the most recent of these actions was when State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Ellen Corbett re-introduced a legislation that called for the repeal of the law.

However, instead of just repealing the current laws on prohibiting the use of speed traps, the new proposed legislation tries to maintain the appearance of fair play by including the provision that speeding tickets can only be issued in areas where speed limits are too low by a police officer who would testify that the motorists’ actual speed was indeed unreasonable.

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