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View Full Version : Can anyone clarify: Interstate Speed Traps



savafan
04-29-2006, 02:35 AM
I was always told that the highway patrol was required to have their headlights on while sitting in the median trying to catch speeders. For about the last month now, I've noticed many a dark car with the radar gun hanging out the window on my late night/early morning drives home from work. It's also not just the OSHP, I've seen patrol officers doing this in several cities lately as well. Before the last month, I can't really recall having seen police cars trying to catch speeders without their headlights on. Has something in the law changed that they are now allowed to do this? Has it always been this way, and I was ignorant about it? Someone help me on this, I'm perplexed.

GAC
04-29-2006, 06:06 AM
I was always told that the highway patrol was required to have their headlights on while sitting in the median trying to catch speeders. For about the last month now, I've noticed many a dark car with the radar gun hanging out the window on my late night/early morning drives home from work. It's also not just the OSHP, I've seen patrol officers doing this in several cities lately as well. Before the last month, I can't really recall having seen police cars trying to catch speeders without their headlights on. Has something in the law changed that they are now allowed to do this? Has it always been this way, and I was ignorant about it? Someone help me on this, I'm perplexed.

I've asked the same question of a friend of mine who is a HW patrolman. He says there is no such law.

But even if there was, and you got stopped by a patrolman who didn't have his lights on, how are you gonna prove it in a court of law? It's your word against his, and a vast majority of the time the judge is gonna take the officer's word over yours. ;)

SunDeck
04-29-2006, 08:36 AM
Never heard of such a thing.

StillFunkyB
04-29-2006, 09:31 AM
I was also told once that they are not allowed to sit on private property as well. Never believed it, just like the headlight thing.

FWIW, I was always told it was the parking lights that had to be on. Anyhoo, I never really believed that one either. It's like GAC said, your word against his/hers.

Yachtzee
04-29-2006, 10:36 AM
I always heard that they had to be in a marked car, visible from the roadway. Whether that means having the lights on or just having reflective material on the side, I don't know. I heard the reasoning behind it was to avoid accidents. A dark patrol car can be very difficult to see at night when it's pulling out from a direction you don't normally expect cars.

On the other hand, the Ohio turnpike has a set up that can be scary. Ever since they expanded to 3 lanes each way, many sections have a concrete barrier separating traffic instead of a median. At regular intervals, they have openings in the barrier with little concrete flares that extend toward the roadway. Highway Patrol likes to duck into those concrete openings to watch for speeders. The problem is that, at night at least, it makes it very hard to seem them, because the reflective parts of their cars are hidden behind the concrete flare. There have been a couple times where an officer has pulled out from one of those at night and forgotten to turn on his lights right away. It's really startling to suddenly see a dark patrol car pulling out almost right in front of you with no lights on.

cincinnati chili
04-29-2006, 10:50 AM
I was also told once that they are not allowed to sit on private property as well.



Do you mean sit on private property WITH the permission of the owners or WITHOUT the permission of the owners?

If it's the latter, the police are never allowed to station themselves on private property unless they're doing some type of search based on probable cause or warrant, or if they're there under some other type of court order. Private property, by definition, gives you the right to exclude others. "Others" includes the government, with only a limited number of exceptions.

In terms of speed traps, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy on public roads. This is true in the U.S. constitution, and as far as I know it's true in every state constitution as well. Therefore, I would assume that police can hide behind bridges, guardrails, or whatever they want to do in order to catch you doing an unlawful act. There's also a lot of case law involving helicopters. That may very by state. But I do know that both the U.S. constitution and the Massachusetts constitution allows the police to fly over your house without a warrant or probable cause (to search for marijuana, speeding motorists, etc.).

cincinnati chili
04-29-2006, 10:53 AM
I always heard that they had to be in a marked car, visible from the roadway.

Do you recall if that was an internal Ohio Trooper POLICY or an Ohio statute?

If it's the former, it's not going to prevent you from getting a ticket. Even if it's the latter, it might not help you in court, since it sounds like the PURPOSE of the policy/law is safety, rather than privacy.

creek14
04-29-2006, 10:57 AM
My B-i-l does some work with the patrol here in Ohio. I'll get the scoop from him.

Blimpie
04-29-2006, 11:07 AM
Most enforcement agencies do NOT have to be in marked vehicles. In fact, the agency writing most of the speeding tickets on the interstates around KY is Vehicle Enforcement. They used to focus primarily on overweight truckers at highway scales, but now they are enjoying the windfall revenue that is passenger speeding tickets. The are almost exclusively in unmarked passenger vehicles. Although many of their vehicles now possess daytime running lights, I do not think that is a requirement to have their headlamps on either. I dunno about Ohio, but in the Commonwealth of Kentucky an enforcement vehicle CAN be hidden--so long as it is situated along the state right-of-way (i.e. NOT on private property).

Yachtzee
04-29-2006, 11:43 AM
Do you recall if that was an internal Ohio Trooper POLICY or an Ohio statute?

If it's the former, it's not going to prevent you from getting a ticket. Even if it's the latter, it might not help you in court, since it sounds like the PURPOSE of the policy/law is safety, rather than privacy.

I checked the Ohio Revised Code, but haven't keycited/shepardized the statutes. ORC 4549.13 requires officers on duty for monitoring misdemeanor violations of motor vehicle and traffic laws to be in a marked car with a flashing light on top. Under 4549.15, such officers have to be in uniform. An officer who fails to abide by either of these restrictions at the time of arrest is incompetent to testify against the violator (4549.14, 4549.16).

http://onlinedocs.andersonpublishing.com/oh/lpExt.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=PORC

That I can see on such a short search, there is nothing about keeping their lights on or having to be visible from the roadway, so those may be OSHP policy, or may have been at one time. Or they could be common misconceptions.

While Ohio could recognize a greater expectation of privacy than the US Constitution or other states, I suspect the policy behind them is more likely to be public safety based.

Caveat Emperor
04-29-2006, 12:23 PM
I checked the Ohio Revised Code, but haven't keycited/shepardized the statutes. ORC 4549.13 requires officers on duty for monitoring misdemeanor violations of motor vehicle and traffic laws to be in a marked car with a flashing light on top. Under 4549.15, such officers have to be in uniform. An officer who fails to abide by either of these restrictions at the time of arrest is incompetent to testify against the violator (4549.14, 4549.16).

http://onlinedocs.andersonpublishing.com/oh/lpExt.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=PORC

That I can see on such a short search, there is nothing about keeping their lights on or having to be visible from the roadway, so those may be OSHP policy, or may have been at one time. Or they could be common misconceptions.


There is no requirement that the officer have his lights on in his car or be visible in order to make the elements of a traffic offense.

In order to convcit someone on a traffic stop, the prosecutor in the case must prove the following facts:

* Identification: The officer must be able to identify the defendant sitting in court as the individual he pulled over.

* Jurisdiction: The officer must testify that the action occured in the county/city that the court sits in

* Uniformed Officer: A traffic stop can only occur by an officer who is in uniform at the time of the stop

* Marked Car: The officer must be driving in a marked police cruiser. Other states DO NOT have this requirement -- such as Indiana, where you can be pulled over by an unmarked cop car.

* Elements of the Offense: Prosecutor must get testimony on the record that you violated all of the statutory elements of the offense.

That's it. As long as the prosecutor gets all of that ony the record, you're busted unless you can offer evidence that raises reasonable doubt about the veracity of the officer's testimony.

cincinnati chili
04-29-2006, 01:06 PM
The more I think about it, the purpose of requiring the car to have police lights is probably to prevent imposter policemen... like that guy from the NBA who used to pull people over for fun.

GAC
04-29-2006, 01:22 PM
The only people that want police officers visible (car in the open and lights on) are those whose intent is to not obey the law. Face it! ;)

Yachtzee
04-29-2006, 04:49 PM
The more I think about it, the purpose of requiring the car to have police lights is probably to prevent imposter policemen... like that guy from the NBA who used to pull people over for fun.

I agree somewhat, but it might also help avoid unnecessary pursuits. It ensures that people know that the person trying to pull them over is a law enforcement officer. Are you going to stop just because some guy in an unmarked car pulls up to you going 70 mph and flashes a badge at you? At night, on a highway, with no one else around?

WMR
04-30-2006, 02:35 AM
The more I think about it, the purpose of requiring the car to have police lights is probably to prevent imposter policemen... like that guy from the NBA who used to pull people over for fun.

Are you talking about Shaq? I know he's an officer of the law. lmao, imagine getting pulled over by shaq.

cincinnati chili
04-30-2006, 08:13 AM
Are you talking about Shaq? I know he's an officer of the law. lmao, imagine getting pulled over by shaq.

No, not Shaq. I looked it up, it was Olden Polynice. He TWICE suffered road-rage, then impersonated a cop to pull someone over.

"Olden Polynice was charged with impersonating a cop after chasing down a motorist in Utah and flashing a fake badge. The giveaway? There are no black cops allowed in Utah. "

http://as.wwc.edu/collegian/story.html?id=426

TeamCasey
04-30-2006, 12:15 PM
Someone was doing that locally just recently.

TeamCasey
04-30-2006, 12:18 PM
I'm not sure if it was allowed or not. The police set up a DWI check point in front of my house in N.Y. (partially on my front lawn). No one asked my permission.

I did go out and ***** at them by about 3:00 a.m. They were out there lights flashing all night, stopping cars. It was impossible to sleep.

OldRightHander
04-30-2006, 06:34 PM
The only people that want police officers visible (car in the open and lights on) are those whose intent is to not obey the law. Face it! ;)

Which if you interpret the law literally, is just about everyone of us. I interpret the words "speed limit" as "minimum requirement."

savafan
04-30-2006, 08:16 PM
I've also been told, and not sure if this is true or not, that if the officer tells you he/she clocked you at such and such a speed, you can request to see the reading on the radar gun. If they are unable to show you that speed registered on the radar gun, you had a valid argument to fight the ticket in court. Again, not sure if that is true or not.

The only time I've received a speeding ticket, the police officer was parked on private property in a residential driveway. I didn't argue though, I knew I was guilty, so I had no problem paying the fine.

GAC
04-30-2006, 08:40 PM
Which if you interpret the law literally, is just about everyone of us. I interpret the words "speed limit" as "minimum requirement."

Tell that to the judge.

And his response will be that your fine is the "minimum requirement" :lol:

GAC
04-30-2006, 08:49 PM
I've also been told, and not sure if this is true or not, that if the officer tells you he/she clocked you at such and such a speed, you can request to see the reading on the radar gun. If they are unable to show you that speed registered on the radar gun, you had a valid argument to fight the ticket in court. Again, not sure if that is true or not.

I had a similar situation happen to me a few years ago. I was driving home from work and had a sheriff come flying up on me and pull me over. He said I ran a 4 way stop. I was kinda befuddled, caught off guard, and asked where was it was at, and he said at the intersection about 5 miles back. 5 miles back? And it took you this long to catch up to me and pull me over? Since we were so far down the road, and I had already passed through several other intersections, it took me a few minutes to determine which 4 way he was talking about.

He said he had me on camera if I'd like to see it. I said I would. Turned out it wasn't my car. ;)

I don't know if he was trying to pull a fast one or figured I wouldn't ask to see the camera. But I drive this same route (out in the country) every day. And one thing I don't do is run stop signs.

RBA
04-30-2006, 10:36 PM
I've also been told, and not sure if this is true or not, that if the officer tells you he/she clocked you at such and such a speed, you can request to see the reading on the radar gun. If they are unable to show you that speed registered on the radar gun, you had a valid argument to fight the ticket in court. Again, not sure if that is true or not.

The only time I've received a speeding ticket, the police officer was parked on private property in a residential driveway. I didn't argue though, I knew I was guilty, so I had no problem paying the fine.


No, they do not have to show you the gun. It's an argument in court, but not very valid.

Yachtzee
04-30-2006, 10:50 PM
In Ohio, they do have to show you the in-car video. Whether that includes the radar gun or not, I don't know. In fact, you should be able to go down to the station and view the video for the officer's entire shift. Ohio has an open records policy, so you can see whatever the prosecutor gets to see.

Blimpie
05-01-2006, 09:48 AM
I've also been told, and not sure if this is true or not, that if the officer tells you he/she clocked you at such and such a speed, you can request to see the reading on the radar gun. If they are unable to show you that speed registered on the radar gun, you had a valid argument to fight the ticket in court. Again, not sure if that is true or not.If you go to court to fight a ticket, you can also require said officer to produce as evidence:

1) recent dates of radar device calibration (log showing dates)
2) certificate from authorized agency showing that officer has passed training course on how to operate that particular model of radar device

Most of these items are available, but rarely will an officer think to bring them to court for his/her appearance. If the officer cannot produce these documents you requested, then the judge has the authority to either throw out the case or to request a re-scheduled court day. Officers hate to appear in court even once for a citation, so twice really is tough for them to do.

remdog
05-01-2006, 10:31 AM
I was once sited for failure to wear a seat belt (even though I was). It ticked me off so I decided to appear in court. The officer in question didn't show up so, as soon as it was apparent that he hadn't bothered to appear, the Judge tossed the complaint. :D

Rem

dman
05-02-2006, 08:21 AM
O.K., Here it is from the horses mouth. I'll try to dispell some of the myths surrounding "speed traps".

First, OSHP has a policy that states when it is dark and we are working traffic, we have to sit with headlights on so as to be seen. We also have a policy against "deceptive" enforcement techniques which includes sitting "blacked out". OSHP realizes that credibility is a huge issue in court and we feel that would impede any case that would come about from those kind of enforcement techniques. Now a many agency in this state do have policies that allow their officers to sit "blacked out".

Second, in the State of Ohio, unmarked cars are not used for any enforcement purposes by any police agency in this state, that I know of.

Now, on the issue of "speed traps" and the OSHP. First, we don't participate in speed traps. Speed traps are places like what New Rome used to be. Now what the Highway Patrol does do is set up areas known as Problem Site Identification areas (PSI's). These areas are set up based upon crash statistics, volume of traffic, severity of crashes, and severity of violations normally found on these areas of road. We usually will take part in saturation enforcement on these roads and that is where people think that it is a speed trap. Post commanders of each post will set up different PSI's through each county that their post covers. Just about all of the posts have idntified areas that are such big problem areas that they have put in "airspeed zones" for enforcement from the Patrol's Aviation section.
Enforcement from the air is also an area where people believe are speed traps. Enforcement from the air though, is where some of the absolute worst violations are observed. The post involved will get with ODOT and typically have a 1 to 1 1/2 mile stretch of roadway surveyed out. From there, ODOT will survey that down to 1320ft. sections (1/4 mile) by laying down 2ftx4ft white lines on each berm of the roadway. Patrol pilots, using calibrated stop watches will then time cars through each 1/4 mile and if violations are observed, they will follow that vehicle down to where a marked ground unit is and direct the gorund unit to stop that vehicle giving them the time of violation and what the violation was. Very accuarate way of measuring speeds.

And Sava, to answer your question about the officer showing you your speed on whatever device they used, this is a myth also. The Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement does not have to show you the violation. Since most speeding violations are only minor misdemeanors, the officer must only view the violation, in this instance view the speed readout along with being able to accurately estimate that the vehicle identified was indeed speeding. If an officer permits you to see the speed on the measuring device, it was done as courtousey rather than being required.

paintmered
05-02-2006, 08:32 AM
One time I was traveling down I-75 and there was a cop on the backside of an overpass clocking people as they went under the bridge. I was fortunate as I could only see the top lights of his car, but there was another squad car a mile or so down the road picking people off as the first cop clocked them.

The patrol car was barely visible. I bet the state made a killing that day.

dman
05-02-2006, 08:36 AM
One time I was traveling down I-75 and there was a cop on the backside of an overpass clocking people as they went under the bridge. I was fortunate as I could only see the top lights of his car, but there was another squad car a mile or so down the road picking people off as the first cop clocked them.

The patrol car was barely visible. I bet the state made a killing that day.
When it comes to the fines collected from tickets, believe it or not, the state sees very little of the fine money. The county in which the ticket was wrote sees nearly all the revenue from the tickets. Believe me, as hard as some of troopers go out and work, if the state would have been seeing even an eighth of that money, Ohio wouldn't even be bothered by budget shortfalls.

Blimpie
05-02-2006, 09:03 AM
One time I was traveling down I-75 and there was a cop on the backside of an overpass clocking people as they went under the bridge. I was fortunate as I could only see the top lights of his car, but there was another squad car a mile or so down the road picking people off as the first cop clocked them.

The patrol car was barely visible. I bet the state made a killing that day.What you are describing is a pretty common practice on I-64 east of Lexington. I have seen as many as six "chase cars" lined up along the shoulder of the acceleration lane (on-ramp) taking cues from the "radar car" which is situated on top of the bridge overpass.

RBA
05-02-2006, 09:19 AM
Thank DMan, you pretty much laid it out. Most leaders in Law Enforcement know it's better to be seen than to hide. A very visible patrol vehicle going up and down the road will slow traffic down and make the roads safer than any speed trap will. Yes, you'll get more speedster that way, but the overall goal is to slow the speed down and make the highways safe.

dman
05-02-2006, 11:07 AM
A couple more things to clarify about OSHP. Our budget is not based on how many tickets we write, nor is there a "quota". The Patrol's funding will be there whether we write 1 or 100,00 tickets. When you see us out there doing our jobs or if you get a blue copy as a result of us doing our jobs keep in mind we are a "Highway Patrol". Saving lives through traffic enforcement is what we do. A lot of people always make rude comments like "why aren't they out catching murderers, rapists, and thieves?" not realizing that we have removed a many of these kinds of criminals from the roadway as a result of aggressive traffic enforcement. Take a look at some of the enormous drug seizures that we have had all as a result of aggressive traffic enforcement.
Also, we are one of a few, if not the only, agency in the state that goes face to face with loved ones and family members of those killed in fatal crashes to let them know of their loss. Although difficult, we do this because we feel that since we know the facts of how it happened we can let them know as much as our investigation will let them know. Plus, it's just not right that family members of the deceased find out second hand from the coroner or someone else.
This is probably the most difficult part of my job as possible and it is my professional goal to do this as little as possible.

Sorry to ramble on so much.

We have a great superintendant of the Highway Patrol right now, and I hope he stays for a while longer, but if anybody has questions about what the Highway patrol stands for and to see the goals for reducing traffic fatalities go to www.ohio.gov/ohiostatepatrol and look at the Lifestat 1.0 areas.

savafan
05-02-2006, 11:41 AM
Thanks for all of the info dman, I appreciate it!

GAC
05-02-2006, 08:09 PM
O.K., Here it is from the horses mouth. I'll try to dispell some of the myths surrounding "speed traps".

First, OSHP has a policy that states when it is dark and we are working traffic, we have to sit with headlights on so as to be seen. We also have a policy against "deceptive" enforcement techniques which includes sitting "blacked out". OSHP realizes that credibility is a huge issue in court and we feel that would impede any case that would come about from those kind of enforcement techniques. Now a many agency in this state do have policies that allow their officers to sit "blacked out".

Yep. I got a buddy who is a HwPman, and he says there is no law, but simply a departmental policy.

I also asked him about sitting on private property. The HWP can't. But city/county can. You can go out and request they leave, and they probably would; but what people don't understand is that from the street, and 12 ft in, you don't own it (forget what it's referred to).

dman
05-02-2006, 08:31 PM
Yep. I got a buddy who is a HwPman, and he says there is no law, but simply a departmental policy.

I also asked him about sitting on private property. The HWP can't. But city/county can. You can go out and request they leave, and they probably would; but what people don't understand is that from the street, and 12 ft in, you don't own it (forget what it's referred to).
You mean the easement that the state/county or township owns?

Yachtzee
05-03-2006, 10:02 AM
I also asked him about sitting on private property. The HWP can't. But city/county can. You can go out and request they leave, and they probably would; but what people don't understand is that from the street, and 12 ft in, you don't own it (forget what it's referred to).


That's an easement. You still own it, but the municipality owns a right of way over the property. So, for example, the city doesn't have to mow the grass in the "devil's strip," but often it can build a sidewalk over it and charge you for maintaining it. What the city can or can't do within the area of the easement is limited by the instrument creating the easement. That may well differ depending on the community in which you live and how the easement was created.

RBA
05-03-2006, 10:34 AM
I think in some towns there are easement in the backyards too. I heard stories al the time how the cable company would go in people's back yard and dig a ditch and some homeowner would just cut the cable because they didn't think the cable company had a right to do it.

edit: corrected Here to Heard. Heard that!

Yachtzee
05-03-2006, 02:30 PM
I think in some towns there are easement in the backyards too. I here stories al the time how the cable company would go in people's back yard and dig a ditch and some homeowner would just cut the cable because they didn't think the cable company had a right to do it.

Yep, your property may be subject to any number of easements, but each easement is most likely limited to certain uses. For example, if the city has an easement to build and maintain electrical lines across your property, they wouldn't be able to use that easement to build a bike path across your back yard.

GAC
05-03-2006, 08:53 PM
You mean the easement that the state/county or township owns?

That's it. He told me that if the city/county wanted to, a police officer/deputy could park there. But HWP can't.

He was not saying they necessarily would, since it would cause trouble probably; but technically, they could if they wanted.