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GPS-TicketChallenge 10-25

GPS vs. radar gun in court

Given the option of contesting a traffic ticket, most motorists — 19 out of 20 by some estimates — would rather pay up than pit their word against a police officer’s in court.

A retired sheriff’s deputy nevertheless hopes to beat the long odds of the law by setting the performance of a police officer’s radar gun against the accuracy of the GPS tracking device he installed in his teenage stepson’s car.

The retired deputy, Roger Rude, readily admits his 17-year-old stepson, Shaun Malone, enjoys putting the pedal to the metal. That’s why he and Shaun’s mother insisted on putting a global positioning system that monitors the location and speed of the boy’s Toyota Celica. Shaun complained bitterly about his electronic chaperone until it became his new best friend on July 4, when he was pulled over and cited for going 62 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Rude encouraged him to fight the ticket after the log he downloaded using software provided by the GPS unit’s Colorado-based supplier showed Shaun was going the speed limit within 100 feet of where a Petaluma officer clocked him speeding. Though traffic courts do not routinely accept GPS readouts as evidence of a vehicle’s speed — and many GPS receivers aren’t capable of keeping records anyway — some tech-savvy drivers around the world slowly are starting to use the technology to challenge moving violations, according to anecdotal accounts from defense lawyers and law enforcement officials.

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