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

  8. Greg says:

    The officer used a V-spec timed me but he was pacing me for 0.2 miles only, in this case will the minimum 0.3 miles apply?

  9. No, the 3/10 mile requirement is specific to pacing you with a speedometer, whereas V-Spec measures your time between two points of reference.

  10. Greg says:

    but how does the v-spec measure the distance? he was following me for about 0.2 miles on the road, he can’t pre-measure the distance, this number must come from the speedometer

  11. Brad says:

    I received a ticket with the officer indicating he had used a “Robic Sports SC-808”. In the “Date Equip. Tested” box, the date entered was almost 5 months prior to the incident. Am I correct that this alone invalidates the ticket based on the equipment not having been calibrated in the last 60 days?

  12. I think you may be correct pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3368(d) BUT be ready for the prosecution to argue that if the Robic can be classified as an electronic speed meter then it would only have to be calibrated once a year.

  13. Rich says:

    I received a ticket last week from a local police officer. When I was initially pulled over, the officer stated that they were doing aggressive driving enforcement. I proceeded to ask did I do anything wrong. He stated that the officer clocked me doing 72 in a 55. I 100% knew I was no going that fast and in a fluster, I blurted out that I wont argue that I was doing 60, but there was no way I was going 72. The officer went back to his cruiser and came back with a ticket for 5 over the limit and still noted the times I was clocked at.
    The police had their enforcement set up that an unmarked cruiser was on an on ramp to the highway and three others were waiting to give tickets based on the unmarked cruisers readings.
    The ticket says stopwatch, so I don’t know the official method they used. Is there anyway I would be able to plead not guilty to the 5 over even though I blurted it out?

  14. You can always plead not guilty. The real question is whether you can win or not. If you can win then it might make sense to have a hearing. Otherwise you generally want to work out a deal. You could plead not guilty and appear at the hearing hoping to work out a better deal (5 over carries no points so it’s tough, although possible, to do better than that).

  15. Drew says:

    I got pulled over and cited for doing 73 (very reasonable speed) on a 55 highway. First off, it was almost midnight and I was the only car on the road so my reasonable speed was not a hazard to anyone or even myself. I was clocked using a stopwatch and the officer misprinted info; he entered 0.47 miles instead of 0.047 miles in the “miles timed” section and it took me 2.31 seconds to cover that distance. My biggest problem was that he used a stopwatch AT NIGHT to clock me. 1. How could he possibly have seen any painted lines on the road when it was pitch black except for my headlights? 2. The judge can correct the misprint in court, right? 3. Can I possibly get off because 0.047 miles or 2.31 seconds isn’t long enough to guarantee no errors in the calculated speed?

  16. Unfortunately for you, whether you were a hazard is not an issue most judges will consider in speeding cases. The issue is did you exceed the speed limit (can the officer prove that beyond a reasonable doubt). I think most judges, at least with a lawyer present, would find you not guilty due to the officer’s mistake and the argument about the lines, assuming there were no street lights, etc. Also, you might be able to use that to work out a favorable plea bargain. Steve

  17. Esso says:

    I was pulled over and officer said I was driving 56mph in a 35 zone. He timed the distance on the ticket as 0.0057, but did not indicate how much time he timed me for. I know I did not drive that fast, I drove 42 (not 56). Without the amount timed how can he prove how fast was I going. Can I fight this and what are my chances? Thanks

  18. Unless his device does the calculation for him I’m not sure how he can prove the case without revealing the time. You need to find out which device he used and whether he recorded any notes anywhere.

  19. Esso says:

    He used ENRADD

  20. Esso says:

    He used Enradd, but the whole thing felt sketchy. The only note he entered was that I disputed it.

  21. Steven Ward says:

    My ticket states a VASCAR was used to determine speed and I was followed for a distance of 0.1932 being rounded off is 2/tenth of a mile. Does the VASCAR apply for the minimum of 3/tenth of a mile law?

  22. No, VASCAR does not require that you be “clocked” for 3/10 of a mile – that pertains to police using a speedometer to measure your speed by following you at a steady pace for a minimum of 3/10 of a mile.

  23. Adam says:

    I was ticketed for doing 54mph in a 30. I was timed for .0437 miles over 2.9000 seconds by a VSPEC system that was tested on that same day. My complaint was that it was dark outside and the cop was sitting off to the side without his headlights on so how could he have seen the lines on the road other than my headlights. Also, at the top of the hill the speed limit is 45 mph and I know I was going 5 over at the top. When I descended down the hill I switched my foot to the break and began to break at the towards the bottom of the hill where I began to break because I knew it changed shortly after the bottom. Therefore I accelerated by 4 mph going down the hill and that’s where the cop was sitting and caught me. Do I have any fighting chance to take this case to court and plead not guilty before paying?

  24. Often if you plead Not Guilty, especially with a good attorney, you can negotiate a plea to a lesser offense with no points and a lower fine. If not, then you may be able to win by making the points you mentioned such as inability to see lines in the dark.

  25. Noah Rinker says:

    I was clocked at going an obscene speed on a road I have drove everyday for 4 months. I was clocked at 78 in a 35. I have no idea how this was possible because I have never gone that fast even on a highway. He used a stopwatch to time me and timed me 0.016 miles in 0.64 seconds. Is there a good chance the process he used was inaccurate and what is the minimum length and time he has to measure for a citation to be valid? This seems like it is too small and hard to not make an error in that short of time.

  26. 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3368 (PA Motor Vehicle Code) authorizes and regulates police officers’ use of speed timing devices. While there is a three-tenths of a mile minimum distance requirement when an officer is using his/her vehicle’s speedometer to measure another driver’s speed, there is no prescribed minimum distance over which a police officer must clock a driver when using a stopwatch/mechanical device to determine speed.

    It is required by 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3368(d), however, that all such devices have been tested for accuracy within 60 days prior to the alleged violation. The citing officer must provide a certificate from the station showing that the calibration and test were made within the required 60-day period and that the device was accurate.

    The use of a mechanical stopwatch is, of course, open to challenge on the grounds of human error in reaction time starting and stopping the device, and the possible effect of human error on the calculation would be magnified the shorter the timed distance.

  27. I’m an attorney and was cited for speed with a speed timing device after I was timed going a distance of 0.026 miles for a period of 2.06 seconds, which is a little over 100 feet. I’m surprised that there’s no statutory requirement that officers using speed timing devices have a minimum distance that a defendant would have to travel in this situation.

    Do you know if there has been any court challenges to the lack of distance requirement? Sadly this is probably one of these things that doesn’t get litigated much in higher courts due to the expense of litigation vs cost to the defendant of just paying the fine.

  28. Agreed. I haven’t researched the caselaw, but most of these cases are defended based upon the probability of human error over such a short time/distance.

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