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An Informal Discussion of
California Radar/Laser Speeding Tickets

The Speed Trap Law
Traffic Speed Surveys
(Also called "Radar Speed Surveys")

Please note that this page is about speeding tickets, and will not help you with a red light camera ticket.

Based on an Actual Internet Discussion

This discussion is long and, at first, may look complicated.  But it's not complicated, it's just long.  And, like in all Internet discussions, some of what one guy says is incorrect -- and gets rebutted by the next guy. 

When you're done reading, you will end up with such a clear understanding of radar speeding tickets that your friends - and even your children of driving age - will begin to regard you as a Guru.  (Who else can promise you that?)  You will also learn some other things that will help you in all your business and legal endeavors.

Please note that the Speed Trap Law does not apply on freeways or other roads posted at the state maximum speed of 65 or 70.

With a few notes - in double square brackets [[  ]] - by the editor of  And added links.

This discussion first assembled 6-1-05, expanded 6-10-05, updated 9-7-11, 11-18-13, 3-21-17, 5-28-17.

SafeDriver wrote:

I received a ticket for going 40 in a 30 mile zone. I asked the officer to show me the radar readout and he said that he had already cleared it!

I have the following dilemma:
- I can go to traffic school and forget about everything.
- I can fight it out and risk getting a point after all the hassle.

[[Warning - scientific explanation follows!  But it is an argument that won't work in court, so you don't need to understand it.  I have put it in italics.]]

I have a degree in EE and know enough about radars and mechanics to know that it almost impossible to do what he claimed I did. I know the PD uses a K band radar. He was at least 25 or 30 ft on the other side of my car. Assuming a beam angle of 15 degrees the officer needs a minimum gap of 150 ft to keep me in the main lobe. This means that I had 90 ft to go from 0 to 40 mph which is equivalent to a 0-60 time of 4.60 sec!!

The other alternate is that he used an angular shot. However, that means that cosine acceleration becomes important. Assuming a cycle time of 300ms (between bursts of microwave), the minimum distance required with an offset of 30 ft to keep the error less than 1 mph between two consecutive readings is about 90 ft. This gives me about 160 ft to go from 0 to 40. And would translate to a 0-60 time of 8.5 sec.

NotMe wrote:

Go all the way.

You have a 50% chance the officer will not show up. Automatic dismissal.

[[Those are good odds, but you can make them even better by moving the case to a court in the county seat.  See Change of Venue on the Challenges page at]]
Here is what I would do. I would get a copy of Fight Your Ticket.

I would get a copy of the city's speed survey for the street you were cited on. After you scan Brown's book you will see why you want to get this document. Examine the survey carefully. See if they set the posted speed limit too low. If they did, that equals a speed trap. Automatic dismissal, even if you were radared doing 90.

SafeDriver wrote:

I have already talked to city public works department (PWD). The person there said that the last survey was done in 2001 and the 30mph was the limit determined by that. I have not seen whether the survey was certified by a licensed engineer or whether the 85% threshold was used or not. But the person said that the limit was set based on that survey. Note that this is primarily a residential street at this point.
As long as I can go to traffic school after filing a motion for discovery and finding the answers I do not mind doing the extra legwork. Perhaps the answers I get, will convince me that I was indeed speeding. Perhaps they will strengthen my case. But not being able to go to school just because I ask for more information somehow sounds unfair to me.

NotMe wrote:

Get a copy of the survey, including the field notes made by the surveyor. Those field notes will show the speed of each of the 50 or 100 cars whose speed was surveyed.

[[ has added the image below, to show what the field notes can look like.  Each 'X' represents the speed of one car, marked down by the field technician.  The field note format will vary a lot from city to city, but they will always have some way of indicating the speed of each individual car.   Note also that while this example includes a line where the 50th percentile speed is noted, some field note forms don't show the 50th, and if you want it you will have to count x's in order to determine the 50th. ]]

[[ notes that if it is not convenient for you to go by City Hall or the Department of Public Works to get a copy of the survey, you can send a written request to the City Clerk, for a copy to be mailed to you.  See's Getting Records/Discovery page for more info.]]

SafeDriver wrote:

I talked to the officer on the phone!

He said that he caught me doing 41 after I had passed him! He said that he had a hand-held radar and he pointed it to my rear. He said he got the tone and everything. Now all [[radar beam]] calculations I had earlier are no longer valid.

Now is it possible for the cop to twist around and aim the hand held gun through the car at the back of my vehicle? He also said that he did a visual estimate of my speed.

What is indeed questionable is whether an officer can aim a gun at a car going in an opposite direction and still get an accurate reading!

He can either twist to the right and aim it down the road through his rear window or twist to the left and aim it through the driver's side window.

The best part is that there were trees behind the officer's car so he could not have aimed it through the rear window. He must have aimed through the side window.  I think he never got a radar reading

Now all I need is a copy of his report.

NotMe wrote:

Get the survey, and look at Brown's book. Without both your sole chance of success will be if the officer does not show up for the trial.

When I refer to "the survey" I am not referring to some report written by the citing officer. I am referring to a speed survey done by the PWD.

SafeDriver wrote:

The first thing I did was to call the PWD to get information about the traffic survey. They gave me a date of 2001 and said that the speeds were set according to the survey. I will look it up to confirm.

CopBoss wrote:

A lot will depend on the device used. The handheld my agency uses can be used versus oncoming or away traffic. Not knowing the placement of the cars involved, I really couldn't say whether his reading was valid or not.

And while I think NotMe's 50% estimate for a no show is on the high side, it might still be in your best interest to go to trial and wait to see if the officer shows. If he shows, and you don't feel confident enough to win at trial, you can still likely plead nolo or guilty and take traffic school.

In my experience, the visual estimation tends to go a long way. But it depends on the court. I was never certified in radar, but I made quite a number of speeding cases on visual estimation in spite of no formal training in that area. It really depends on the judge.

NotMe wrote:

To SafeDriver -
Are you a teenager or something?

Repeat this back to me.

"I will go to the PWD and obtain a paper copy of the complete speed survey. I will then retire to my abode where I will examine the survey closely, using Fight Your Ticket as a guide."


CopBoss talked about visual estimation.  I say, visual estimation, shizzle estimation. If the officer used radar and the survey does not justify the speed limit posted on the street, then it was a speed trap. And the speed trap law says that if it's a speed trap, ALL of the officer's evidence, including any visual estimation, is poisoned and cannot be used.

So get the survey, will ya?

SafeDriver wrote:

CopBoss, thanks a lot again.

[[Warning -SafeDriver is getting all scientific again!  Again, I have put it in italics.]]

As I had written, there was a 20 ft lateral distance between his car and my direction of motion. The view through the rear view was obstructed due to hedges. If he took aim through the side window, he needs to aim at a very sharp angle to get me within 30 degrees and reduce the cosine error to less than 12%. Even at 30 degrees his stated reading of 40 mph will correspond to an actual velocity of 47 mph, which would lead to a 7 mph difference between his visual estimate.

Further it is not easy to aim a 7-9 inch long device backwards at such a sharp angle. Try aiming something of that size (perhaps your sidearm) through the side window at a sharp angle to get a perspective.

CopBoss wrote:

Of course, CVC 22350 can still be argued regardless of the posted limit ... one can be unsafe even if BELOW the limit. While it's not likely the case here, it is simply not true - in general - that without a survey that safe speed laws cannot be enforced.

NotMe wrote:

CopBoss may have his own agenda, and SafeDriver isn't listening because he is an engineer and has become so narrowly focused on the technicalities of the radar beam that he will most likely lose his case at law.

But for the rest of you reading here, who are not cops or radar engineers, I am going to repeat something that is very important, and is how you beat radar speed tickets in CA.

In a previous message, CopBoss wrote: "it is simply not true - in general - that without a survey that safe speed laws cannot be enforced."

That is a misleading statement. It would be true if no radar had been used, but this entire thread has been about a radar ticket. And the law is very clear for radar tickets. If radar was used  and there is no survey (or the survey does not properly justify the posted speed limit), NO speed law can be enforced, no matter how fast you were going. [[ It's not quite that simple!  Radar can be used, without any survey, on a "local" street.  See discussion of what "local" means, below. ]]

It is black letter law. Anyone who doesn't understand this should read Fight Your Ticket.

CopBoss wrote:

Only partially true.
The device may not be able to be used, but the issues surrounding a safe speed may still be applicable as can estimated speed.

The lack of a survey does NOT make zipping along at 100 MPH suddenly legal ... or driving at 50 MPH in a 35 MPH safe. While radar, laser and other such devices might not be admissible under some situations, visual estimation and pacing can still be used as can "unsafe speed for conditions" per CVC 22350.

The relevant sections and the various convoluted legalese can be found in CVC 40800 - 40808.

I have no particular agenda, but it is disingenuous to state that it is "black letter law" that the lack of an adequate survey will toss the speed violation out the window. It might. But it does not mean that speed cannot be enforced by other means in said area.

It may be that this thread was largely about a radar confirmation, but the original post-er also mentioned some other factors such as a school crosswalk that might change the dynamic of the argument from a prima facie speed argument to unsafe speed.

NotMe wrote:

If radar had never been used on the defendant, then yes, visual estimation, pacing or other methods could be used. But this thread is about a ticket where radar was used. Once radar is involved in a ticket, if the street is bigger than a "local" street a survey is required.  And if that survey is not up to snuff, then the use of radar on that street is a speed trap.  [[ See discussion of what "local" means, below. ]]

40804. "(a) In any prosecution under this code upon a charge
involving the speed of a vehicle, any officer or other person shall
be incompetent as a witness if the testimony is based upon or
obtained from or by the maintenance or use of a speed trap."

Per 40804, it is just like the officer didn't even show up for the trial. Nothing he says can be used. He has "poisoned" himself by his illegal use of the radar. Case dismissed.

Others may find CVC 40800 - 40808 "convoluted" but everyone I know is able to understand it quite easily. I have used it to beat a number of radar tickets.

Get the survey. Get the book FYT. Find the defects in the survey. Beat the ticket. No JD, EE or CrimSci degree required.

SafeDriver wrote:

I went to the city public works department and obtained a copy of the traffic survey. I did not take a copy of the notes though I looked at them.

-Time of Survey: August 2001
-Average Daily Traffic (ADT): 2100
-The 85th percentile speed on Vintner ranges from "35 mph to 37 mph"
-There were 2 accidents on Vintner in 2000.
-The survey results are signed by a Traffic Engineer.

Posted speed is 30 mph.

I also asked the public works guy why the crossing near my home is a School Zone and he mentioned that it is because there is a after school day care facility on a parallel street. That street is at least a 1000 ft away. So there is no school or day care facility within 500 ft.

The survey speed fudges by saying that the 85%ile speed ranges from 35 and 37. I cannot understand how a %ile speed can have a range. It has to be an exact number or if there were not enough samples, then the number should be a mean of the two closest numbers.

Is this survey acceptable?

NotMe wrote:

You are on the right track, at last.

The survey sounds fishy. I have never seen one, before, that gave a range for the 85th. Go back, get a copy of the field notes. Then you'll be able to tell how they fudged the 85th.  [[The 85th should be a whole number, no fractions, no decimals.]]

However, you need to understand that there is a way that they are allowed to reduce the posted by an additional 5 mph increment. That way is if the engineer cites, in the survey, a danger that would not be apparent to a new driver on the street. That danger could be a hidden driveway, or simply a higher than average accident rate. Using your situation as an example, lets say the 85th turns out to be 36.  That rounds to 35 so he could post a 35 without giving any justification for doing so. But he could only post a 30 if he said that the 2 accidents equals a higher than average accident rate, or that there is some other non-obvious danger. This is per the statutory law - the law as it was written by the legislators.  [[ Here is an example, from a survey in another town, of such a justification:

"UNUSUAL CONDITIONS (NOT READILY APPARENT):   Breaks in the sound wall allow pedestrians access to the roadway.  Some pedestrians cut across the roadway to avoid the pedestrian overcrossings." ]]

Then there is the case law. Look at the 50th% speed. Case law says (see Footnote 20 [[below]] from decision in People vs. Goulet) that they can't use radar enforcement if they have set a posted speed that turns the majority of drivers into violators. Thus, if the posted is 30 and the 50th is 31, the majority of drivers are exceeding the speed limit.  [[Here, courtesy of, is that footnote:

"FN 20. Review at trial or on appeal will tend to fall into patterns. Many speed limits will apparently be justified because, in accordance with the general rule, they are set at the 85th percentile speed or within 5 mph under that speed. Some speed limits may be justified because they are set five mph below the general rule, based on higher than expected accident rates or listed hidden hazards. Some speed limits may appear to be unjustified or questionable because:

1. The speed limit is set 10 or more mph under the 85th percentile speed;

2. The speed limit makes violators of a large percentage of drivers;

3. "Conditions" listed are not hidden hazards, that is, they are readily apparent to a driver;

4. There is no explanation how the conditions listed require the speed limit set; or

5. The accident rate is not higher than would be expected statistically."]]

[[ Also courtesy of, here is the full text of the Goulet decision. ]]

By the way, most of this is in Fight Your Ticket.

[[Note by, added 5-19-08, updated 8-21-09 and 9-7-11: 

In January 2008 the California Traffic Control Devices Committee ("CTCDC"), which advises CalTrans, began action to formalize the relationship between the posted speed and the 50th Percentile.  In a memo once published at [dead link] ( archived copy ), the CTCDC asked CalTrans to modify their Manual (the MUTCD) to reflect that "...Under no conditions a posted speed limit anywhere in California shall be less than the 50th percentile speed as determined by an Engineering and Traffic Survey."  In most cases, CalTrans adopts the CTCDC's recommendations, but they did not adopt this particular one.  The CTCDC held further discussions during three more meetings, but could not reach consensus about new language to recommend to CalTrans.  During a March 2009 special meeting attended by the director of CalTrans,  he said he would make a decision about the language by April 21.  The director's decision was published in the agenda of the 5-14-09 meeting of the CTCDC, and it read:

09-10  Section 2B.13 Speed Limit Sign (R2-1) of CA MUTCD

The Department recommends using the existing regulations in the CA MUTCD with added emphasis on the required documentation for applying the additional 5 mph reduction currently allowed.  Additional 5 mph reductions must be justified by a registered engineer in the Engineering and Traffic Survey with concurrence from the law enforcement agency responsible for the designated roadway.

On 6-29-09 CalTrans published  Policy Directive 09-04 formalizing the new decision.

2012:  Even Newer Rule

Assembly Bill 529 of 2011 (Gatto), effective Jan. 1, 2012, changed the rules again.  See the discussion of AB 529, on the Action/Legis page at]]


I also want to recommend that if you are going to be fighting tickets (or any other law), that you get familiar with West's Annotated California Codes. They allow you to look up any section of California law, including the vehicle code section you were cited for, and see what it really means. For more details about WACC, see this free website:

CopBoss wrote:

It appears to be in compliance.

Doogie wrote:

Naw, it isn't in compliance unless there are other written notations on the speed survey to justify a posted speed limit reduction of more than 5 mph from the survey's supposedly measured "critical speed" of 37 mph. Challenge the 35-37 mph vagueness which is improper.

Moreover, so what if you exceeded the posted speed limit? 41 is only 4 mph more than the 85th percentile... so that's not much faster than what other presumed reasonable drivers travel. Do you know about California's "Basic Speed Law" that allows a motorist under certain safe conditions and circumstances to travel faster than the posted speed?

Fiizbt wrote:

Check with the court, but I believe the survey is too old, therefore you could argue that the 40 mph is likely the 85th percentile, if it is safe under the basic speed law.

SafeDriver wrote:

I have requested a copy of the detailed survey and the notes.

The survey has to be five years old or less. There is also an automatic clause for extension for another five years.

I also talked to the court clerk. She said that the notes which the officer has are the same as what I have in my citation so filing a discovery motion will not help much. According to her, I can not question the officer with a written request for answers.  She also said the citing officer is pretty senior officer and is known to the court.

[[Warning! SafeDriver is getting scientific again.  But this will be the last time.  I have put it in italics.]]

I also noticed that the speedometer on my model of car shows a speed 3-5 miles more than your actual speed. I had read about this in different forums and personally verified that by using a GPS device and by driving at a steady speed in front of a road-side speed measuring device (which displays your speed as you pass by). The officer said that his radar gun got me at 41mph which would translate to a speedometer speed of 44-45 mph. No way was I going to be driving that fast with after seeing an officer and with a stop sign 300 yards down the road.

Unfortunately, Commissioner James Washington, who has won three Iggy Awards [[ given to bad judges by]] works in the court I am supposed to appear at.

Rational thought would suggest traffic school but this is becoming an emotional issue for me.

NotMe wrote:

Don't worry about Washington. You have the right to do a Peremptory Challenge, which will keep him off your case.

Read about Peremptory Challenge in Fight Your Ticket, and on the Challenges page at

SafeDriver wrote:

Traffic survey is here but it is weird.

I finally got a copy of the "Speed Zone Survey".
The survey is a 3 ft by 1 ft document, with a satellite picture of the area and other details. It has a notes section above the picture and a square graphed area below the picture. It is dated August 2001. The alignment is Straight, the gradient is Flat, the district is residential.

The speed was measured at three different points. In the first zone the road is 30 feet wide (first 1000 feet of the 3700 feet) and it is 40 ft wide for the rest of the 2700 ft. The officer was standing at the point where the road widens from 30 to 40 ft (and hence hidden to traffic coming from his behind). I was ticketed in the first zone.

1. The record which the city provided me does not have any details of the actual distribution of speeds. There is no distribution graph of individual speeds measured, actual speed samples, number of measurements taken etc.

2. The speed was measured at three different spots of the road I was cited in the zone covered by the first spot.

3. The Observed Speed: Critical was 37, 35 and 36 mph in the three zones.

4. The Observed Speed: Pace was 26-36 mph in Zones 1 & 2 AND 27-37 mph in Zone 3.

5. The accident rate is 4.0 accidents/million vehicle miles which I am told is very high.

6. The existing speed limit was 30 mph when the survey was taken.

Below the satellite image of the road, there is a square ruled graph area. This area plots the following speeds:
- Existing Speed Limit
- Critical Speed Limit
- Pace

I noticed that the Critical Speed Limit, in the zone I was ticketed is actually marked at 27 mph in the graph! The notes above say that the critical speed is 37 mph.

I am not sure whether the traffic survey, without the detailed notes is sufficient? Was the law changed between 2001 and now to require more detailed notes? Is it possible that the detailed survey notes are buried somewhere in the city and were not given to me?

In the absence of the detailed notes, do I have sufficient evidence (10 mph pace of 26 - 36) to show that at 30 mph most of the people would be speeding (Goulet?).

CatFancier wrote:

You mean if everyone does 75 on a freeway then that makes it legal, 45 in a residential area with kids riding their bikes?

NotMe wrote:

If the accident rate is high and the engineer has written in the survey "Speed limit should be reduced to the next lower 5 mph increment (30) because of higher than average accident rate," then the 30 speed limit can be justified - except where Goulet applies.

So you need to get the portion of the survey where they indicated what the 50th percentile speed is. Usually it will be listed right next to the 85th. But if not, you can figure it out by looking at the raw data of the 100 speeds measured. The raw data (field notes) is on a graphing sheet that looks like the examples given in the CalTrans Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), or has the same function. The CalTrans examples can be found in the most current edition of the California MUTCD.  The [April 2017] edition is at .  [[If the survey was conducted May 20, 2004 or after, see the bold-faced Note below.]]  Once you have downloaded that publication, scroll all the way to the bottom of Chapter 2B and look at Figures 2B-101 through 2B-105. [[And has added an example - scroll up to the big image.]]

[[Note added 11-3-07, updated 9-7-11 and 5-28-17:  The rules keep changing! 

The rules applicable to a survey conducted July 1, 2009 or later are at (LARGE file).  Once you have downloaded that publication, look at the pages on speed limit sign type R2-1, which [as of April 2017] are pages 134 - 135.

Here is's condensation of those pages.

To determine the speed limit that is to be posted, the 85th Percentile speed is to be rounded, up or down, to the nearest 5 mph increment, and then can be adjusted as follows. 

(a)  For a survey conducted before Jan. 1, 2012:  A 5 mph reduction was allowed but only if justified by a high accident rate and/or hidden dangers that were documented in the survey.

(b)  For a survey conducted Jan. 1. 2012 or later, if the 85th was rounded down (or didn't need to be rounded because it already was at a 5 mph increment), a further reduction of 5 mph can be made but it must be justified, as above.

(c)  For a survey conducted Jan. 1. 2012 or later, if the 85th was rounded up, a 5 mph reduction can be made without justification - see CVC 21400(b) or the discussion of AB 529 on the Action/Legis page at

(Hidden dangers should be things that would not be apparent to a driver passing through - Vehicle Code Sec. 627 uses the phrase "conditions not readily apparent to the driver."  It should also be noted that the extra 5 mph reduction has been heavily abused - many surveys cite dangers which would be apparent to a motorist, yet still take the 5 mph reduction. During a hearing before the legislature, one engineer described that reduction as being "rubber stamped." (Joint hearing, Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees, Oct. 28, 2009, at 1:47:30.))

SafeDriver wrote:

There are no field notes or raw data which the city gave me.
I asked them and they said that this is all they have.

What I have is Fig. 2B-103. I do not have Figs. 2B-104 to 106.  [[If the survey was conducted May 20, 2004 or after, see the bold-faced Note above.]]

The field notes and the cover letter do not explicitly state that the speed limit is being reduced further because of these reasons. They just state all the relevant facts.

NotMe wrote:

Here's your defense as I see it.

The Speed Trap Law (CVC 40802) says there has to be a survey if radar was used (and it is not a "local" road).  [[ See discussion of what "local" means, below. ]]

VC 627 says the survey has to be conducted per CalTrans requirements.

CalTrans Manual, at Section 2B.116 (in a subsection of Section 2B.116 titled "Engineering and Traffic Surveys") says they have to show the raw data of the individual speeds of the approx. 100 cars sampled.   It says that Figs. 2B-105, 106, or something having the equivalent function should be used.  [[If the survey was conducted May 20, 2004 or after, see the bold-faced Note above.]]

So, go to trial.  (If I was the officer and I had heard via the grapevine that the defendant was looking at the survey, preparing a good case, etc., I just wouldn't bother to show up.  I wouldn't want the judge to find out that all the tickets I'd written in my Cherry Patch were no good.)

Ask the officer if he has a survey. He will pull out a notebook with the survey in it. It may or may not have a Fig. 2B-105, 106 or equivalent. (If public works couldn't find it for you, maybe they couldn't find it for him either.)  [[If the survey was conducted May 20, 2004 or after, see the bold-faced Note above.]]

If the raw data isn't there, move for dismissal. Tell the judge that CalTrans requires that it be there. That if it's not there, it's a speed trap. If necessary, explain to him that the public is entitled to see the raw data so that they can determine the 50th% for a potential Goulet defense.

If the officer miraculously comes up with the raw data, ask the judge to recess your case for a few minutes, handle the next case, so that you can examine the data. Find the 50th% speed (if it was noted on the data sheet or elsewhere in the survey), or figure it out. Also look to see if the engineer wrote down, anywhere, his rationale for moving the limit down the extra 5 mph increment. Also check the date on the documents. If they have been revised after the date of your ticket, they are irrelevant, can't be used.

When the case starts again, if the engineer didn't write down his rationale (the officer cannot provide it verbally, it has to come from the engineer), move for dismissal.  [[Check to see if the engineer signed it!]]

If that didn't work, then argue (per People vs. Goulet) that the 50th% makes violators of the reasonable majority, or majority, (whichever is the case) of drivers.

[[Here are some other things to look for. 
1.  If the survey specifies that the surveyor made his observations while standing between Street X and Street Y, but isn't more specific than that, you could argue that the survey needs to be more specific so that a person reviewing the survey can confirm that the survey location was not too close to an intersection, and was on an uninterrupted section of road of at least whatever the minimum requirement is, probably 1/2 mile.
2.  Look at the time of day that the survey was made.  It should be a time when traffic would be expected to be flowing freely.
3.  Look to see if the survey indicates what the weather was.  It's supposed to be there.
4.  Look at how long it took the surveyor to do the survey.  I saw a survey where it took 90 minutes to sample 102 cars - on a busy 4-lane street.  That's just over one car a minute, and could indicate an accidental or purposeful selection of cars that are going slower.]]

If nothing has worked, throw yourself upon the mercy of the court and ask for traffic school. If I was the judge and a defendant had just done the best defense I had seen all month, I would definitely give TS to him - if the defendant had been polite, respectful, dressed nicely (no torn T shirts please).


[[ The Speed Trap Law does not apply to "local" streets.   The next 12 posts talk about what is, and isn't, a "local" street. The Speed Trap Law also does not apply to freeways or other roads posted at the state maximum of 65 or 70.]]

SafeDriver wrote:

I have hand delivered a letter under FOIA act to the city Public Works Department requesting all information about the survey. I have included the print outs of the relevant figures from the MUTCD. Either they do not have it or they are not giving it to me. If they not have it then I have a reasonable chance of getting out.

The street is not a "local" road since it is 3700 ft long and exceeds the half mile limit specified in CVC 40802 (b)(1)(B). There are no stop signs or traffic signals on this road except at the terminal end.

"(B) Not more than one-half of a mile of uninterrupted length. Interruptions shall include official traffic control signals as defined in Section 445."

"445. An "official traffic control signal" is any device, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is alternately directed to stop and proceed and which is erected by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction".

Kurt [[who is a police officer but isn't up front about it]] wrote:

Just out of curiosity, what do you do for a living?

Your salary works out to how much an hour?

You've spent how many hours pouring over this minutiae?
(The vast majority of which is of dubious value in a court trial.)  [[Kurt is right about the scientific stuff about radar beams - it would be worthless unless SafeDriver brought in a recognized expert to testify about it.]]

And you're doing all this... over a speeding ticket for doing 10 mph over the speed limit?

Okay... knock yourself out. If you can't battle 'em with logic, bury them in b*llsh*t.  [[This quip is attributed to Pres. Harry Truman.]]

SafeDriver wrote:

Kurt:  It is a matter of principle.
The Business Decision is to take the online traffic school.
The emotional decision is to prove that I was not doing 40 mph.

I have learnt a lot about how the system works during the investigation of this incident. Not just traffic law, but radar technology, role of the NHTSA, the civic and legal process followed. To me, this ticket is a lesson in the legal system here; something which will be useful as my roots in the community become stronger.

The City Hall is just 1 mile away.

It is true that I have spent a lot of time on this ticket. But in a way, that has help me come to terms with the whole situation (get a closure). Otherwise, I would have felt upset, every time I took the turn where I was ticketed.

NotMe wrote:

Most cities have a map as specified in 40802(b) - so to be sure of what the category of the street is, you would have to check the map. The map will have some (big) streets specified as arterial, and others (medium) specified as collector. The balance are "local."

In most cities, the map is part of the circulation element of the general plan.

You might wonder why a city would not simply choose to leave all its streets classified as "local" - since that would allow it to use radar without the restrictions of the speed trap law. But the reason that cities don't do that is that they get Federal Aid to Urban Highways money and they cannot use it on "local" streets.

SafeDriver wrote:

Section 40802 Says:
"(b) (1) For purposes of this section, a local street or road is defined by the latest functional usage and federal-aid system maps submitted to the federal Highway Administration, except that when these maps have not been submitted, or when the street or road is not shown on the maps, a "local street or road" means a street or road that primarily provides access to abutting residential property and meets the following three conditions:

     (A) Roadway width of not more than 40 feet.

     (B) Not more than one-half of a mile of uninterrupted length. Interruptions shall include official traffic control signals as defined in Section 445.

     (C) Not more than one traffic lane in each direction.

The street can not be classified as local since it has a continuous stretch of 3700 ft without any stop sign, which is more than the requirement of less than half a mile (2700 ft). I think that is the reason they did the traffic survey.

I am suggesting to public works that they could put a stop sign just before the half mile marker.  Then they can lower the speed limit to 25 mph and enforce it with radar without a traffic survey.

NotMe wrote:

The way I have always read that section is, if there is a map, the designation given on the map (arterial, collector, or by default, local) takes precedence. The only time you would use the dimensions (width, length, # of lanes) would be if there was no map ("no map" would include a situation where there was a map but it had not been submitted to the state and the feds).

SafeDriver wrote:

The extract from the Code says:

"... except that when these maps have not been submitted, or when the street or road is not shown on the maps, a 'local street or road' means... "

Even if the map does not show the road, it is not a local road if it does not meet any of the three conditions.

NotMe wrote:

So you still need to check the map. If the street is depicted on the map and it is not designated arterial or collector, then it is a local street no matter what the dimensions.

So get the map. Get it certified, by the way.

SafeDriver wrote:

Thanks. I will have to check that.
The city says that they actually want to reduce the speed limit on the street to 25 mph. Since they are doing traffic surveys there, it is likely that it is not a local road

SafeDriver wrote:

My FOIA letter had the desired effect. I received certified copies of the speed survey.

The 30 mph limit corresponds to the following percentiles at the three points where the survey was done:

Point A: 38%
Point B: 45%
Point C: 40%.

At all the points the 30 mph speed limit would mean that at least 50% of the drivers would be speeders.

I also talked to the traffic engineer (a different person). He had a different take on the local road rule. According to him, once a traffic survey has been used to set the speed-limit for a road, it can not be arbitrarily reduced by classifying it as a local road. That is why they need a valid traffic survey to reduce the speed further on this road (the residents want 25 mph) even if the road is classified as a local road.

NotMe wrote:

I could not tell from your last message whether the street showed on the map, or not. Or even if you saw the map.

Get your own copy of the map. Certified.

Impressive numbers though - roughly 62% of all drivers are violating the limit. A clear Goulet case.

[[ suggest that if you have assembled rock-solid evidence that your ticket was no good, you might be able to avoid having to go to court!  Contact the officer who issued the ticket.  Show him your evidence.  Ask him (nicely!) to dismiss.  He just might do it, because dismissing it now will save him embarrassment in court.]]