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IN NEW YORK RADAR EVIDENCE IS ADMISSIBLE TO PROVE THE SPEED OF A VEHICLE WITHOUT THE NEED OF EXPERT TESTIMONY EXPLAINING THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES OF RADAR SPEED DETECTION [People v. Magri, 2 N.Y.2d 562]

Most officers who issue speeding tickets in New York will typically testify that they first made a visual estimate of the speed of the vehicle and then confirmed that estimate with either a radar or laser unit.

At a speeding ticket trial in New York, the prosecution need not present expert testimony to explain how radar speed detection works or its scientific principles. In People v. Magri (1958) the New York Court of Appeals recognized for the first time, the general reliability of radar speed detection thus making it no longer necessary for the prosecution to produce an expert at speeding ticket trials involving radar speed detection.

Accordingly, held the Court of Appeals, “the time has come when we may recognize the general reliability of the radar speedmeter as a device for measuring the speed of a moving vehicle. Therefore, continued the Court, “it will no longer be necessary to require expert testimony in each case as to the nature, function or scientific principles underlying [radar].” Id at 566.

Of course the prosecution still must show that the particular radar unit the officer used was in proper working order. Id. Usually the officer testifies that he conducted an internal calibration test. This is generally done by the officer pushing a “test” button on the unit. If it is working properly a specific number will appear on the LED readout. The unit can also be tested by tapping a tuning fork provided by the manufacturer and holding it in front of the unit. The tuning fork is set to a certain speed. If the unit is working properly it will display the speed the tuning fork is set for. Also, the officer can test the unit by having another vehicle drive through the radar beam at a known speed and see if the radar unit displays the correct speed.


If you have been charged with speeding (or any other traffic offense including DWI) anywhere in New York feel free to contact Tilem & Associates toll free at 1-877-DR-SUMMONS or visit us on the web at www.DrSummons.com.