More info at http://www.njlaws.com/speeding_and_radar.htm
Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents persons charged with speeding more than 15 miles over the speed limit an other serious traffic violations throughout New Jersey.
It is well established that the prosecution of a defendant for a motor vehicle violation is a quasi-criminal proceeding. In such a proceeding the burden of proof is upon the state to establish all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
In every charge of a speeding violation, the complaint or summons must specify (l) the speed at which the defendant is alleged to have driven, (2) the speed which is prima facie unlawful, and (3) the time and place of the alleged violation.
A sign showing a speed limit is merely notice of the law or an ordinance or regulation prohibiting a greater speed. The sign itself does not set the speed limit. There can be no conviction for violation of the edict of a posted sign, but only for violation of the statute, ordinance, or regulation having the force of law. There are many unauthorized signs in the state which may serve as a warning but have no effect in creating an offense. Radar
Speed-measuring radar in various forms has been accepted since State v. Dantonio, l8 N.J. 570 (l955), where the N.J. Supreme Court held it is not essential that the court determine the precise speed at which the vehicle was being operated when the alleged offense occurred, and that the operator of the vehicle must be adjudged guilty if the evidence established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the drive exceeded the statutory speed limit.
It is not necessary for the trial court to make a particular finding as to the precise speed in excess of the speed limit at which the defendant was traveling at the time of the violation. State v. Bookbinder, 82 N.J. Super. l79, l83 (App. Div. l964).
However, if the defendant is found guilty, the trial court should determine the quantum of excess was so many miles per hour in exercising its discretion as to the penalty to be imposed within the statutory limitation. The precise speed a motorist was traveling thus is material only on the question as to the penalty to be imposed, not on the question of guilt or innocence.
State v. Readding, l69 N.J. Super. 238 (Law Div. l978), restated the general rule that in order for the radar speedometer reading to be admissible into evidence, it should be established that: (l) the device is scientifically reliable; (2) the particular speedometer used in the case being tried is accurate; (3) the operator is qualified; and (4) the device was operated properly in the case being tried. How Radar Operates
In State v. Wojtkowiak, l70 N.J. Super. 44 (Law Div. l979), revd on other grounds, l74 N.J. Super. 460, Judge Wells examined in detail the K-55 Radar, and his conclusions were incorporated by the Appellate Division. This case should be read and reread for a detailed explanation of Radar by a Court.
The traffic radar method speed detection measurement depends upon the Doppler effect. Simply stated a radio wave which strikes a moving object is reflected from that object at different frequency from that of the incident wave. A radar which transmits waves and receives reflected waves can determine their frequency difference and calculate the speed of the object which produced the reflective wave.
Courts have accepted as scientifically reliable MPH Industries K-55 Traffic Radar -- the primary system employed for the purpose of measuring the speed of motor vehicles in New Jersey.
In State v. Wojtkowiak, l74 N.J. Super, 460 (App. Div. l980), the appeals court held in all future cases the state should adduce evidence at the municipal court level as to (l) the specific training and extent of experience of the officer operating the radar, (2) the calibration of the machine was checked by at least two external tuning forks both singly and in combination, and (3) the calibration of the speedometer of the patrol car in cases where the K-55 is operating in the moving mode.
While it appeared to the court in State v. Wojtkowiak, Supra that the K-55 Radar is an accurate and reliable tool for the measurement of speed, its accuracy and reliability in any case are no better than the skill of the person operating the radar. Id. at l74. The court made this emphasis as a warning to all police departments that proper courses of instruction be developed before the K-55 Radar device is employed in any municipality.
A calibration check is accomplished with the use of two tuning forks and their accuracy must be the subject of the documentary proof. Use of the K-55 does not eliminate the need for such proof. State v. Wojtkowiak, l70 N.J. Super. at 50, n.l
KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817