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Eye In The Sky

Those signs along the Grapevine and Highway 395 that say “Speed Enforced By Aircraft” really do mean that there are patrolling aircraft overhead which are empowered to issue traffic tickets.

Longtime CHP pilot Jim Andrews says there is not as much aerial traffic ticket enforcement today as there was ten or fifteen years ago, mostly due to better technology on the ground and budget cuts in Sacramento. But he and the other pilots definitely maintain a presence, especially when it comes to infractions like street racing and failure to maintain a single lane. From his base near San Francisco, he and the other pilots use two helicopters and two small airplanes to cover most of Central California. Officer Andrews uses high-definition cameras to help spot speeding cars, but he says they stand out at high altitudes. To verify speed, he and the other pilots rely on those perpendicular painted white lines to help them estimate a vehicle’s speed. Then, they radio ahead to ground units that issue traffic tickets.

Officer Andrews says he and the other pilots also assist with disabled motorists and other emergency situations.

Legal Issues in Speeding Tickets

Aerial enforcement raises some interesting questions. For example, using the marks on the side of the road sounds suspiciously like using a clock or timing device to calculate vehicle speed based on distance travelled, which is illegal under the speed trap law. So, if you get a ticket from an officer who got a tip from an aircraft, you may have a valid defense.

Pacing is also rather controversial, because the officers essentially guess vehicle speed based on their experience. Judges nearly always side with the officers in these cases. In fact, there was a case from San Francisco several years ago in which an officer who was standing still paced a vehicle. An aggressive and experienced attorney can normally expose the flaws in this method during cross-examination.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive lawyers at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-859-1177 or email attorney@markbigger.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-376-0214.