I was sitting in traffic court the other day, waiting for contested cases. Not having been in traffic court but once before in 25 years, I arrived early for an education. Over the two and one half hours sitting there, I acquired very valuable information.
State troopers appear to have all of their cases assigned to designated days so that they may be out on the road for the remainder of the days in a month. The trooper for the day was present to testify under oath about the facts of the speeding tickets he issued. He admitted that his radar equipment had not been timely calibrated and that all of the speeding tickets for the time frame involved were not based on reliable evidence. Kudos to the officer for not perjuring himself. But what does this mean?
Knowing that the equipment was faulty and the evidence did not support the citation, the trooper pulled over and issued speeding tickets to motorists. The motorists who contested the speeding tickets had their cases dismissed. What about the motorists who did not contest their tickets? Their failure to contest means that they admitted guilt, paid fines, are paying higher insurance premiums, will carry points on their driver’s licenses for many years and may suffer loss of license or other penalties depending on their prior infractions. Some of the drivers present testified that, without their licenses, they would not be able to drive to work, would lose their jobs and would not be able to pay their debts.
In Virginia, fraud is defined as a false representation of a material fact, made intentionally and knowingly, with intent to mislead, with reliance by the person misled and resulting in damage to the party misled. So, in our situation, the radar device was known to be unreliable. Motorists were informed that they were detected as exceeding the speed limit. The motorists relied on that information. Those who did not contest the speeding tickets suffer payment of the fines, increased premiums, license points and a variety of other penalties. Hmmm.