Fast Lane To Trouble

By Jamie Neben

If you’ve been driving for any decent length of time, chances are you or someone you know received a speeding ticket at some point.  I’ve certainly gotten one (ok, maybe more).  In each case, the officer told me exactly how fast I was traveling—a fact I already knew.  The reason he knew was because my speed was captured on his radar gun.  It’s usually an open and shut case.  Black and white.  On June 2, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that radar is no longer necessary.

With a 5-1 margin, the court upheld the conviction of a speeding motorist based on an officer’s visual estimation of his speed.   Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote in her opinion, ““Rational triers of fact could find a police officer’s testimony regarding his unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed, when supported by evidence that the officer is trained, certified by OPOTA or a similar organization, and experienced in making such estimations, sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant’s speed.”

I believe this creates a slippery slope for Ohio residents and others if this catches on elsewhere.  Not because I suspect the police force is corrupt by any means.   On the contrary, most are good men and women who should be recognized more for their service and sacrifice.  But they are only human, and they can make mistakes like the rest of us.  And on a practical note, sometimes fines are increased based on how much over the limit a person is driving.  Five miles per hour can make a major difference.  Will the officers err on the side of the motorists?

My speedometer keeps me honest while inside my vehicle.  When somebody’s watching me from the outside, it’s only fair that they have an equivalent device.  President Reagan liked to use the phrase “trust, but verify” on occasion.  He definitely could’ve used it with this case.