I got a speeding ticket Dec 2006 on I-35e in Hickory Creek, TX (between Dallas and Denton - map). The officer used LIDAR. Posted limit is 60mph and the ticket was 82mph. The weather was perfect and the traffic while heavy was moving at its usually fast pace (70-80mph). Note that while most of Texas highways are 70mph the DFW area was politically reduced 5mph in 2000 just when the Federal Government stopped the federally mandated highway speed law. 2000 the Texas Council of Government (COG) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reduced the speed limits in an effort to combat air quality standards and continue to receive federal highway money. So this part of highway is not regulated based on Avg Traffic speeds nor the 85th percentile rule.

My Speeding Ticket Research

For the past month I researched the LIDAR and speeding ticket angle a lot. I found this website, which helped a great deal. So I went to the initial municipal court date to plead not guilty and request a trial. By this time the Public Records request that I had mailed to the court, prosecutor and the officer had arrived. I waited my turn and then stepped before the Judge. I had already received an extension from the court's office and was attempting to make another extension so that the prosecutor could "respond to my open records request". At this point the Judges assistant said that they had received the Open Records Request form, but that it was "quite extensive" so they "had turned it over the the city attorney" for Hickory Creek. At this point the Judge said that I should submit a 'not guilty plea' and then speak to one of their attorneys. The attorney said that they should respond to my Records Request in about 2 weeks and that the trial is set for April. He said that I could change my plea later based on the findings from the records request.

Here is a copy of the Hickory Creek Open Records Request form.

Here is my Case Argument:

  1. LIDAR doesn't have Judical Notice (thanks radardetector.net!)
  2. Argue that the I-35e 60mph speed is Prima Facie (or 'suggested') and that the officer must show that I was driving dangerously fast for the conditions.
    1. 22mph IS rather fast but I will ask at what speed it is not.... 10 over?
    2. Then I ask if the officer has ever witnessed traffic traveling 'faster' than 10 over.
    3. I then argue that I had been traveling at a more reserved speed (one considered 'safe' by the officer) but that when passing a much slower vehicle I increased speed to match faster traffic in the passing lane.
  3. Based on the Discovery Documents:
    1. Argue that the officer didn't follow LIDAR procedure
    2. Argue that the LIDAR could not be accurately aimed at my vehicle.
    3. The police officer was never certified to use LIDAR
    4. The officer never even completed the RADAR policy training
    5. Argue that the officer's log shows traffic traveling at speeds similar to mine.


Update=The Court Room:

First of all never try to defend yourself in a tiny town. The judge is never elected but rather 'appointed' (hired) by the city and its the city that gets the revenue from tickets that the Judge oversee. I recall Government 101 where the Judge is part of the Judical branch and not the prosecution. OH WELL....

The prosecutor immediately had the Judge throw out all of the evidence that the Prosecutor himself had sent to me. NEXT TIME I need to subpoena the original evidence to the court room. So I couldn't use anything I had collected. The city attorney, Vanzant, told the jury that I had 'downloaded documents off of the internet' not that they came from HIS office but I was not allowed by the city appointed judge to defend my case.

I questioned the officer:

  1. He claimed to have read the LIDAR manual but couldn't recall one thing it said
  2. He confirmed that there was a chapter regarding daily and monly LIDAR maintance but admitted that he had NEVER done ANYTHING to the LIDAR gun. No testing at all!
  3. He had no idea what Cosine Error was or Sweep Error
  4. He said that the LIDAR unit never gives errors
  5. He claimed that the company that sold them the LIDAR guns trained them on it
  6. He has never tested the LIDAR unit for speed or distance (Manual says to do this every day

Basically the city of Hickory Creek has spent thousands of dollars on LIDAR unts for the sole purpose of making money of the Texas Highways. They have never spent money training officers or testing LIDAR units because they have more interest in revenue generation not accuracy.

In my close I tried to defend myself by reviewing the in-accurate testimony of the officer, but the Judge told the jury that she was giving Judical Notice of everything the officer said and to disregard my observations. I feel sorry for the local residents... I only pass by their city they have to live with it.


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