People whom receive New York speeding tickets often enthusiastically call our office when they believe that the police officer who ticketed them for speeding did so without the use of a radar or other mechanical speed measuring device. While radar or mechanical evidence of speed is useful for the prosecution and persuasive upon a finder of fact, it is not indispensable.
Rather, what is required is NOT electronic, radar, laser, or mechanical evidence of speed, but the police officer’s expert testimony of visual estimation of speed. See, People v. Olsen, 22 N.Y.2nd 230 (1968). In Olsen the only evidence of speed were 2 police officer’s visual estimation uncorroborated by any mechanical device. The Court of Appeals in Olsen held that expert opinion evidence of speed is required to prove speeding, and is admissible so long as the witness shows training and experience in estimating the rate of speed of moving objects.
Consequently, before an officer may testify regarding visual estimation, the officer must first be qualified as an expert by the court. To do that there must be evidence that the officer has training and experience in visual estimating. This can be proven through documents as well as testimony, and any such evidence is subject to cross examination and challenge by the defendant.
When the prosecution cannot proffer such evidence of expertise, or it is so grossly undermined by the defense, any testimony as to visual estimation must be suppressed from trial. See, e.g., People v. Mandato, 195 Misc. 2nd 636, 760 N.Y.S. 2nd 809 (Appellate Term, 2nd Dept. 2003). In that case the appellate court ruled that a motion which was denied to suppress and dismiss DWI charges should have been granted when police officer’s initial probable cause for stop for speeding was based on visual estimation and the officer testified that he had no training in visually estimating the speed. In People v. Lavalley, Greenburgh Town Court, 2012 (unknown docket number), applying Mandato, the court suppressed evidence of DWI when evidence of DWI was gleaned after a motor vehicle stop for speeding based on visual estimation and no evidence of training in visually estimating speed of moving vehicles offered.
Challenging the expertise of any witness in any expert area is a highly technical endeavor. As you can see, in many cases having expert opinion precluded or not allowed at trial can lead to a dismissal. Precluding evidence of visual estimation from trial can lead to a dismissal of your NY speeding ticket. If you received a speeding ticket call our NY speeding ticket lawyers now. We are on standby 24 / 7 / 365 to take and answer any question you may have about your NY moving violation, so call today!