What’s the Proof Level for a New York Speeding Ticket?


The proof level that the prosecution must use for all traffic tickets in NYS is the criminal level of "beyond a reasonable doubt." 

Meaning that the prosecution must prove that you were, in fact, speeding based upon some or all of the following:

  1. A police officer must testify that s/he has experience and training with estimating speed by visual confirmation. He gauged your speed, was able to see your car clearly, explain physical markers used (a confirmed distance), timed you (clocking), and then made out an estimated speed.
  2. If he used his car's speedometer, to track you and you car, that his car's speedometer was calibrated and checked prior or right after the citation was given.
  3. Lastly, if he used Radar (Upstate Troopers and Police use the Stalker Dual), then the following must be shown for a successful prosecution:
  • The officer must have adequate training (this is pretty minimal-hours) and experience in the operation of the Radar unit.
  • The officer must testify as to how the unit was set up and the conditions the unit was operated under.
  • It must be shown that the unit operated with a minimum possibility of distortion from external interference.
  • The unit must be tested with an external source, such as a tuning fork(s) or an actual test run with another vehicle that has an accurately calibrated speedometer. Usually they have two tuning forks, 25 mph and 40 mph, they may even check with an 80 mph one.

NOTE: One primary New York State case established the use of a tuning fork to check Radar before and after a speeding ticket is given. In New York v. Perlman (1977) the Suffolk County District Court ruled that a Radar device was NOT proven accurate because NO tuning fork (external) test had been performed either before or after the arrest.

A successful prosecution may also include testimony from the officer/trooper on the following:

  • Location of the perpetrator (offender), i.e. the target vehicle.
  • Location of the patrol car at the time of the observation and/or Radar.
  • Other cars/trucks/vehicles on the road or near the target vehicle.

Many states place the prosecution's level for traffic infractions with a civil standard of proof, "preponderance of the evidence," meaning a little more likely than not (a pretty easy standard). However, in New York it is the higher criminal standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

There are also some negatives to upstate speeding tickets:

  1. Part time courts with part time judges with part time staff (clerks), did I mention they are part time, it might be awhile to get to your trial...
  2. Night court, 7:00 or 7:30pm Court begins and lasts until... ?  In many of these small towns and villages your trial may be at 9:00pm, or even 10:00pm.
  3. Judges tend to favor (give credibility) the local police/deputy/trooper when it comes down to conflicting testimony between trooper and defendant.

Every case is different.  If you have questions about your New York Speeding Ticket, call us:  607-229-5184

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