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Speeding Tickets
 

Traffic Violations and Speeding

 

You speed. I speed. We all speed. Lets face it.

The best advice is simply not to speed, at least not brazenly. If you are in that range of 5 to 7 miles per hour over the limit, in the metro area, you are fairly safe.

Based on recent statistics, everyday, an average of 125,000 people in the U.S. receive a traffic citation. Many of these people are victimized by faulty speed-reading devices, incompetent, overly-aggressive traffic officers and budget-strapped governmental agencies.

The most amazing statistic is that only 4-10% of all traffic tickets are contested. This means that at least 90% of the recipients simply send in their money without question. Let me tell you, that is a mistake.

If you get ticketed, fight it. You never know when the next ticket will come and it is much harder to fight a ticket if you have a prior record, whether it is speeding, an unlawful lane change or other violations. Sure, your ticket will cost you between $50 and $150. Generally, that will not break the bank. What you may not know is that a ticket can cost you thousands once your insurer gets wind of it. That may occur if you change insurance coverage or renew your insurance resulting in a check of your driving record. You may check your driving record online from Minnesota's Department of Public Safety.

Did you know that the same companies that make the police radar and laser apparatus that read your speed also make the laser and radar detectors that are purchased by the public. It is a commercial venture where every time they improve your detector, the also improve the apparatus purchased by the police to defeat your detector. The end result is that the detector you buy has limited use. That does not mean detectors are useless. In many cases a top of the line detector will be useful for detecting radar and laser readings for several years. You should know, however, that their usefulness is limited. You can find some of the top of the line detectors in the column at the right which may be useful for several years.

The bottom line is that now in particular is a very bad time to have a lead foot. States like Minnesota and Wisconsin that are facing large budget deficits are finding new money by catching traffic offenders. Even filing fees have doubled in the last year. Minnesota has in many cases increased their ticket costs by 100% or more.

In a speeding ticket, many types of devices are used. there is radar, rolling radar, photo radar, reverse radar, laser instruments and stationary devices. There are also helicopters and planes that time vehicles between marked points on the highway. In the latter cases, you may never be stopped and simply receive a citation by mail.

In almost all cases, if you have a fairly clean record, the ticket can be avoided. The downside is that you must take time out of your busy day to schedule a court appearance or speak with a ticket expeditor. Make no mistake, in most cases, it is well worth your time.

Often, you can swing a deal where you pay "prosecution costs" but the ticket never appears on your record. In other cases, the ticket can be reduced to a non-moving violation so that your driving record, and consequently your insurance, is not affected.

If you are caught and intend to fight you ticket, knowledge about the radar and laser units is critical.

RADAR UNITS. Think of a radar unit as a flashlight. Instead of emitting visible light, radar emits invisible electromagnetic waves at a certain frequency. Just like a beam of light, the radar is reflected back so that you can see the object. The electromagnetic wave that radar emits is called microwave, which will reflect off most metallic objects, concrete, trees, wood etc. Also like a flashlight, the beam widens as it moves farther away from the light source. As a result, at a greater distance, the radar unit can read objects within a wider area. At a distance of 200m, the width of the radar beam can usually cover all 4 lanes of traffic traveling in both directions. Obviously this creates a greater chance for error when there are multiple vehicles on the road.

Another draw back to the radar is that a radar instrument is subject to interference. A radar instruments antenna will accept any microwave that it is able to "hear". That would include radar images from airports, high voltage power lines, telephone lines, power stations, even neon lights.

There is also a variation of traffic radar, which is called moving radar. The moving radar has two readouts on the radar unit, one shows the target speed, one shows the squad car speed. The strongest return signal, usually reflected from highway signs, bridges or other objects, is assumed to be the cop car speed. The next strongest signal, is assumed to be from the target. Moving radar is subject to all the errors stationary radar has, plus the error of determining the speed of the squad car.


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