• Sep 18th 2009 at 8:30AM
  • 53
It seems as though there may just be a positive side to those unwelcome GPS-based vehicle tracking devices... especially if you are a teenager. Shaun Malone, a 17-year-old California resident, was cited by radar-yielding authorities for driving 62 mph in a 45 mph zone in 2007. Faced with a $194 fine (and some inflating insurance premiums), Shaun's parents fought back arguing their son's vehicle was equipped with a satellite-based tracking device that monitored Shaun's speed – and it showed he was doing 45 mph when he was stopped.

While they can be affected by poor reception or noise in the radio signal, GPS-based speedometers are generally considered the benchmark for measuring velocity. On the other hand, radar measurements are also considered very accurate, as long as the human at the other end of the device is correctly trained and is tracking the proper vehicle. At stake is the credibility of radar. As Doppler-based speed enforcement has become a primary source of revenue for law enforcement agencies nationwide, police don't want their technology challenged. With that in mind, the local Petaluma police have spent a reported $15,000 on the trial. The case is to be decided in the coming weeks.

[Source: Christian Science Monitor]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      Davey Hiltz
      • 9 Months Ago

      That is really interesting that there was a case on that. I had a car once that the GPS I was using was actually more accurate than my speedometer. I did get pulled over once for speeding but I actually deserved that ticket that time. http://www.wedefend.ca/en/company_profile.html 

      • 5 Years Ago
      If the fine paid for traffic violations went to a charity, or other "good cause" there would be no incentive for anyone to get a ticket any more.

      If I was in government this would be one of my top policies.

      All Traffic Fines become donations to a charity, or research facility for medicine or alternate energy.

      For a government body to DEPEND on a income based on people violating laws is just insanity.

      Someone should organize a NO VIOLATION WEEKEND or something and have everyone in a state be extra carful not to violate any traffic laws. Then see how the town likes having that reduced income.

      Please challenge me and say that traffic fines should go to the government body for some real reason.. I dare you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        For the same reasons that people that make more money pay higher taxes; because the government know how to spend your money better than you do. /sarcasm
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aside from being in total agreement, I also happen to be in disagreement with the concept of speed traps.

        It's like police being only *present* after someone does a crime. Enforcing the law is showing presence, not hiding and wait until someone does something wrong to give them a financial penalty.

        Erm, maybe that was inadequate. In other words I mean that I don't feel it's normal for police to wait by someone's window and wait until some murders/attacks someone else to arrest them. In a proper world, they'd be patrolling, displaying their existence/presence and so forth, not hiding or literally speed-stalking people. You have to discourage people from speeding, and merely having a couple of cop cars driving around does that. (although in Quebec part of them go to another government entity responsible for part of your insurance - aka the money goes to people victim of car accidents and such, but still, there's still a part of it going to the government).

        Sorry if you've had a hard time understanding the point I've been trying to make. I just didn't really know how to put it properly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There are even worse examples than that. How about the cities that install red light cameras because of 'safety concerns' and the added revenue that they will bring in. Then it turns out that the systems fail because they become to costly to operate when people no longer break the law.

        If nobody ever broke the speed limit or unethical police couldn't find a way to make it look like you broke the speed limit they would have to scale back their budgets significantly or raise taxes to keep their budgets at the current levels. The last thing police want is their golden goose challenged or more greatly regulated with additional changes to the radar gun that would require something like video with a live feed of the radar speed indication on the video similar to dash board video cameras.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aprime, I get what you're saying.

        As a corollary, here in Florida, drivers sometimes warn oncoming traffic of a speed trap by flashing their headlights. Doing so is against the law. However, such warnings accomplish the stated goal of speed enforcement, which is to get motorists to obey the speed limit.

        The police lobby is very strong and they don't like anything that cuts into their revenue.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The part about this that bothers me the most is the "Conflict of Interest" section, questioning what "stake" both the defense and police have in this case. Granted, something like this could set legal precedence, so there are "stakes" to be had for sure. But this kind of misses the whole point: if the case cannot be proven that the kid was in fact speeding, then no law was broken, regardless of who has an interest in the outcome.

      I only hope this section was written for journalistic/reader interest, and not on some sort of legal claim.

      Right is right, and wrong is wrong; it doesn't matter WHO it was or for what REASON. Spending time and effort figuring out WHY someone is defending the issue seems like a scapegoat and distraction from the real legal issue.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes, you CAN be off by a mile in accuracy, but that's going to be a very, very rare case or perhaps your reciever just hasn't found enough satelites to accurately computer your location yet.

      However, once your system has communicated with enough satelites(usually within a minute or so), your accuracy will be very good, on the order of within a few feet. Nowhere close to a mile off as you claim.

      I also routinely use a GPS system for my job. We have a GPS system which is mounted on our airplane and is used to calculate our altitude, attitude, heading, speed, and location. This system is used by other equipment in our airplane and it is necessary for it to be as accurate as possible. It's a fairly sophisticated system but is not far off from a typical dashboard GPS unit. It also still recieves it's data from the same satelites.

      The unit in our plane also allows us to see the accuracy in real-time and once it has communicated with enough satelites, the accuracy is very good. In most cases, I'll see variances of less than a meter (our system is from Europe). In any case, I've never once seen our accuracy be off anywhere close to a mile, usually at worst it is off by 50-100meters and that's right after it is turned on and maybe has info from 1 or 2 satelites. It quickly drops as more satelites come online though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've been pulled over for 48 in a 25 (was doing about 33) back when I was in high school. The next day I found out that 2 other people were pulled over doing 48, from the same cop, all within an hour.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't you love quotas?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was pulled doing 62 in a 55 a couple years ago. I was driving a beat up pick-up truck that wasn't even capable of pulling 55 up the incline I was ticketed on. The officer was driving the opposite direction and had just gotten over the hill and was heading downhill. He immediately turned on his lights and made a U-turn in the grass median and across three lanes. He cut me off while my truck was struggling to even get up the hill. I nearly went off of the road and there was no pull-off. My ticket was thrown out when I went to court and explained to the judge that the truck couldn't go that fast up that hill and I noted that all of the people before me were also ticketed for 62mph. Fortunately it was a small town and the judge actually knew the truck I had before it was under my ownership. He threw out the rest of the cases by the officer after me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ha, that sucks...I've got you beat, though! When I was in high school, my friend and I were pulled over for street racing because we were "suspiciously" riding side-by-side. The speed? A steady 34mph. The speed limit? 35mph.
        The cop said he would do us a favor by dropping the street racing charge and ticketing us for 44 in a 35. Awesome, right? We both took our ticket to court and, unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to fight it because the cop didn't show for either of our court dates.
        I guess when he wrote the tickets, he thought we'd be stupid enough to just pay them and when that didn't happen, he knew there was no real way to logically explain in court why he'd given us the tickets in the first place.
        ...and cops still wonder why people don't like or trust them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Speeding tickets are one of my most frustrating topics. I am one to get stupid tickets, I have a clean driving/criminal/etc record, yet I am one to get silly speeding tickets, rather than those with unsafe vehicles/accident producers/bad drivers or other laws they are breaking. Some people do some really stupid things while driving, those I can spot rather easily in my daily commute, why aren't they pulled over? Just watch: that person who can barely keep in their lane? almost hits another car? Yep, they're on their cell phone, doing their makeup, texting, just plain doing something other than driving.

      I know for a fact everyone speeds. Remember going 1 mph/kmh over the speed limit is "speeding" and can be fined. And why am I picked out of the crowd in speeding when I have a car and that truck next to me is doing the same speed? Who can stop faster? Who is more dangerous going at faster speeds? That doesn't matter.

      30 mph on a major divided two lane road is just stupid. There are no houses, no kids running around, nothing, but they have the speed limit at 30. Why? To make money, purely the only reason for such a speed. And yes, cops sit on this road all the time, hiding in bushes, parking lots, etc just waiting for the person who doesn't normally travel this road to come by.

      Being this topic infuriates me, I have done much research on radar and lidar. Radar has so much room for human error. Newer guns are better, but still, it is very hard to tell which car you are getting that speed on, it is far from perfect, even if the cop is honest. Lidar is more accurate, but very limited, the cop has to be like exactly in front of you or behind you, otherwise the accuracy is way off. So they will stand with the gun on sidewalks, sides of roads, anywhere to be sneaky.

      Anyway, there's no perfect solution to speed vs safety. In vehicle speed limiters, which limits speed based upon specific roads, is a better solution than just giving someone a fine. I'm glad this person had a speed recording system of their own. I think GPS is a more valid way to prove speed anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago

      "why you people in america CAN'T trust the police?"

      First: people in America don't trust GOVERNMENT, that actually writes the laws police is obliged to enforce.

      So, it actually becomes: "Why you people in America CAN'T trust people who write the laws?"

      Well, I could invite you to Google "US Constitution" and read the first hit (Cornell Law site, by the way), but I know that's too complicated, even if the actual text is very, very short, about 2 chapters of Harry Potter. However, it is not the text of the Constitution that is important for understanding, it is the underlying principle that is very important. I'll make it very short: "Any Government is the most devious criminal that ever existed in on the face of this planet so we will put all the provisions so that entity must behave and is never allowed to become a criminal danger to the population."

      This was great, but it didn't last. With a double whammy effect. ANY leeway given to ANY US Government entity is like a piece of a** to a 15 year old. European Governments already cozily replaced Kings and rule undisturbed and unquestioned to what they can or cannot do. But for this US Government, any leeway is as previously described (15 year old in a Pu**yland) and they are going to splurge on it - reasonable or not. You cannot expect this hormone ridden teen to have conscience and, unfortunately, they write laws the police needs to enforce, whether they like it or not and whether these laws make sense or not. Of course, it helps if senselessness of these laws fills the coffers from which they are paid, but it is NOT the first trigger.

      I hope this explains it for you.

      • 5 Years Ago
      "local Petaluma police have spent a reported $15,000"
      make that the local Petaluma tax payers. While i agree wrongful ticketing sucks, frivolous lawsuits suck even more because everyone looses except the laywers. The 17 year old is facing inflated insurance premiums because they already got a ticket this year and cant take $50 worth of defensive driving. I agree the $200 ticket sucks but burning thousands of tax payer dollars sucks even more. I urge the Petaluma tax payers to sue that family for wasting their tax dollars!
        • 5 Years Ago
        So you’re implying that citizens should just roll over and admit fault even though there is none. You sir, would make a great addition to the Petaluma police force.
        • 5 Years Ago
        obviously my statement about suing the family was in jest MR tC to point out the stupidity of most lawsuits.

        But hopefully something beneficial will come out of this beyond just dismissing the ticket. Hopefully this will result in better checks and balances for ticket writing; such as radars that print out what speed they recorded, at what time, with a picture of the car they are pointing at so the police cannot easily wrongfully use radar. It would suck if a citizen protesting money being taken wrongfully just manages to do more of the same to the taxpayers with no real changes coming about. In these days of tight budgets im just sick of money going to lawyers instead of something more useful like education.

        • 5 Years Ago
        You forgot the "/sarcasm" at the end.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There has to be some recourse to the cops going to trial about it. Dont sue the family for fighting a stupid charge. Put pressure on the police department for having crooked cops and then trying to cover it up.

        I got pulled over in Kansas on a road trip (i have california plates = instant target) and the cop "clocked" me (he was driving towards me so he somehow defies the physics of radar) at going 78 in a 70. I had my cruise set at 70.

        Cops have been trained and conditioned to act like this because they always win in court no matter if they are telling the truth or not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They shouldn't be mad at the family who is fighting the charges. If it has escalated to the point where the city is spending $15K to fight it, I'm sure that the family is probably paying an attorney $300/hr to fight on their side. If the comes out that the officer did falsely write the ticket, he should be fired and be made to pay for the legal fees to the city. I'm not saying all officers of the law are corrupt (more long the lines of being forced), but when they start using their position of trust from the community to reach a ticket quota or just hassle people, that's wrong.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, because opening up more lawsuits would lower taxes. You sir, are a bonehead.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Frivolous lawsuit? The parents aren't suing the county, they are disputing a ticket... something every citizen has the right to do.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will be very interested in the outcome of this case. I suggest others follow the results and post them when the judge gives the ruling.

      San Francisco blatantly stated in a memo a few years ago that required ticket quotas (parking and moving infractions). While this case is not in this jurisdiction, it does present a precedent to fight a case with the proper tools.
      • 5 Years Ago
      well, since the movie american graffiti was filmed in and around downtown Petaluma, it might have been one of those bumbling cops from the movie that wrote the ticket.....you remember the rope getting tied around the rear axle of their patrol car...............and pulled out from underneath when thet hit the lights...............
      • 5 Years Ago
      County spends 15k for a $194 ticket. Am I the only one that see's the problem here? Between paying ADA's, researchers, file clerks, the judge, the officer's double time for appearing for any hearings on this case, its just a bit much for barely a $200 ticket. If they elect the District Attorney the opponent in the next election is going to have one hell of a hand grenade about wasting the tax payers money.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is very interesting. I was just thinking about this the other day. Having a GPS system with real time tracking and velocity on my phone, I would have my speed at the exact moment in time at the exact location to potentially dispute with the radar report. Here's to hoping this case sets a precedent (in favor of the driver)...
    • Load More Comments