Primer on Defenses to Speeding

Filed under: Criminal Law by Contributor @ August 8, 2014


One of the most frustrating things that can happen while driving is receiving a speeding ticket, especially when you were “just going the speed of traffic.” Many motorists believe that speeding tickets are impossible to fight because of how seemingly straightforward they are, but after you finish reading this primer, you will have an idea of some of the defenses that attorneys can employ to fight and beat a speeding ticket.

The Speeding Statute

In Pennsylvania, virtually all speeding violations fall under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3362. The statute says, in so many words: “Don’t speed!”. But a couple sections later in the vehicle code lie more rules, in 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3368 (Speed Timing Devices). In § 3368 are regulations officers must abide by when determining a vehicle’s speed, and more importantly, when a reading from a speed timing device cannot be used to determine speed for a speeding ticket. Many tickets are dismissed because the officers do not follow the rules, and a careful parsing of the statute reveals many possible defenses.

Types of Speed Timing Devices, and Defenses to Them

There are three main types of devices that officers may use in order to determine a person’s speed: Radar, VASCAR/ENRADD, and the officer’s speedometer. If ANY of the rules below are not followed, a driver will have a solid case against the speeding ticket.

Radar: ONLY State Troopers are permitted to use radar guns to clock a driver’s speed. The radar guns must be calibrated at least once per year. A State Trooper may not record a person’s speed using radar within 500 feet of a sign indicating that a speed decreased. There is also a statutory “leeway” that says that a driver may not be pulled over if he was driving 0-5 MPH over the speed limit if the speed limit is 55 MPH or higher, and may not be pulled over if he was driving 0-9 MPH over the speed limit if the speed limit is less than 55 MPH. The 500-foot rule and statutory leeway do not apply in school and work zones.

VASCAR/ENRADD: VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) and ENRADD (Electronic Non-Radar Device) are different methods of calculating how long it takes a driver to drive past two separate markers, usually white lines painted on the road. Using VASCAR, an officer will wait for a car to come, and will use a stopwatch to manually determine how long it took the vehicle to pass between the lines. ENRADD is the same concept, but uses two electronic sensors, one at each white line, to accurately determine how much time lapsed. Both types of devices must be calibrated every 60 days. VASCAR’s weakness is in the human error that invariably exists in every speed calculation. Even though the officer must be certified to use VASCAR, human reaction time is anything but consistent. ENRADD also can give a false reading if the two sensors are not placed at exactly the same height. The same 500-foot rule “statutory leeway” that applies to radar also applies to VASCAR and ENRADD, with the only difference being that the leeway with VASCAR is only 0-5 MPH at all speed limits.

Speedometer: The last type of mechanism officers will use to determine a driver’s speed is their vehicle’s speedometer. While the average car’s speedometer is reasonably accurate, police vehicle speedometers are required to be tested and calibrated every year. Also, the officer must have followed the driver for at least 3/10 of a mile for the reading to be admissible in court. Other factors can also be questioned by attorneys, including how far away the officer was, weather conditions, and whether the officer was distracted or multitasking. The 500-foot rule and “statutory leeway” do not apply to speed readings using a speedometer.

Other defenses: In addition to the rules and defenses above, there are some other general defenses available. Emergency is one, in that a driver was speeding because extraordinary circumstances required it. Another rule is that when the speed limit is less than 55 MPH, speed limit signs must be posted at least every half-mile.


We hope that this primer provides hope for any readers who have received a speeding ticket. In summary, many traffic tickets can be beaten if the device was not calibrated recently or other rules were not followed. Often, attorneys can negotiate a charge to a lesser offense. Here is the link to read more about traffic violations, and to speak to one of our traffic and criminal defense attorneys, contact us today.


  1. Hayler Osborn says:

    I was stopped for going 44 in a 25. The problem is that I wasn’t going that fast. I went thru it again at 21-22. The officer said I was going 29. That was 30% faster than I was going. I have asked the police to let me go thru the next set up with them driving my car or sitting in my car or following and they said “no”. What else can I do?

  2. You should definitely hire a good lawyer, plead not guilty, and either work out a deal that is closer to your true speed or educate the Judge about the margin of error for the speed timing device utilized.

  3. Hayler Osborn says:

    Thanks. But how do I educate the judge. I know that there are various loopholes but the only thing I can think of is if I could go through an Enradd setup and video my speedometer and show it to the police.
    I am trying to locate the township that will let me do that since the one in which I got the ticket won’t.

  4. Eric says:

    I just got a speeding ticket from an officer using an Enradd device. The thing is that I saw the device and looked at my speedometer. It read roughly 49 mph. Since I was in a 45 mph zone I was very surprised when I was pulled over and told I’d been going 64 mph and had hit the brakes hard going through the Enradd…..something I know I didn’t do. The officer claimed he had calibrated it that morning. How on earth do I defend against that?

  5. First we would try to work out a deal which normally can be done in the areas where we practice. If that doesn’t work then we point out the potential defects of ENRADD and argue reasonable doubt.

  6. J says:

    Am curious your take on this. I was given a ticket today at a speed trap using Enradd. I did not think I was speeding and had no idea why I was being pulled over so I asked and the officer said I was exceeding the speed limit and that “Residents in the area are complaining that people are driving too fast. So our hands are tied and I have to give you a ticket.” The speed limit right there was 25 although that road is more like other roads in the area with 40-45 limit. I was told I was measured as going 30-something (I 4get the #) but the office wrote it up as 30 “so that you will not get any points”. The fine is only $35 but all of the costs drive it up to over $150!!! Do I have any grounds to plead not guilty on the grounds that it seemed the officer was apologizing about the situation and that had this been on any other local road, even also at 25mph, I would not have been given a ticket? Seems like the normal discretion an officer has to write a ticket or not might have been compromised by local politics??? Since the ticket is written in such a way that I get no points, it seems like there is no deal to be made (no points to drop) and the fine + unfair charges cannot be changed no matter what (???).

  7. I agree that there might not be much to gain by pleading not guilty in this particular case. It depends in part upon the particular court, the officer, and the local politics at the time of the hearing. You can always contest the ticket on the merits but most cases are resolved by way of plea bargain to a lesser offense. Since this is still technically speeding in a moving violation even though there are no points, and your insurance rates could go up, you might plead not guilty and request that the citation be amended to a nonmoving violation like failure to exhibit a driver’s license. Best of luck. Steve

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