San Diego, California Speed Traps
I wanted to help others who get caught in this speed trap, as I successfully challenged this ticket. I found the entire process outrageous because it is nothing more (in my opinion) as a way to illegally shake down honest citizens for speeding tickets which cost well over $500. The police at this location hand out ticket after ticket (and this is not a rant against the police, who are just doing their jobs, I blame the city) using radar. First, I am an attorney, but knew nothing about speed trap defenses until my experience. Here is how it works.
Google Cal. Vehicle Code Section 40801 & 40802 (which will make your eyes glaze over) but it is key to understanding the law. The speed limit posted at this location is 30 MPH (this is Garnet St., between Balboa Ave and Garnet Ave), which is not the 85th percentile speed as required by the most recent Engineering and Traffic Survey. This can be obtained from the City of San Diego by email. As for the survey dated 4/11/03 between Garnet Av, from Balboa (W) to Morena Bl. Overpass, it shows the 85th percentile speed is 36 MPH, thus, the speed limit should be 35 MPH, NOT 30 MPH, and there is your speed trap! Read the following cases for a better understanding:
People vs. DiFiore, 197 Cal.App 3d Supp. 26 (1987); and,
People v. Earnest, 33 Ca4th Supp 18, 23 (1995).
More importantly, read this website which is to teach judges the law on speed trap defenses and evidentiary matters. Very helpful:
Note: The State must produce a valid Traffic & Engineering Survey (within 7 years old) which shows the posted limit is the 85th percentile speed or rounded to the nearest number factored by 5 (e.g., 30, 35, 40 etc.). On that basis alone you can win if they fail to do this. Finally, these are not local roads as defined by the statute, see the California Road System Map which available on the internet (a little hard to find but it is there).
My officer showed up (which surprised me) and when I began to explain my defense they immediately caved and dismissed my ticket. My theory is that they KNOW this is an illegal speed trap, but continue to pursue it because it is so lucrative. This upsets me because it is just shaking down the local citizenry, which is simply outrageous, particularly in these economic times. I was fortunate enough to go to law school and know how to deal with this nonsense, but most citizens are too afraid and are intimidated by the system. The guy next to me, an unemployed man trying to fight a motion camera ticket, was shaking he was so nervous. I tried to calm him down but to no avail. He eventually made a deal and they halved his bail and he walked (a good deal for him, his facts were not that great). There was even some intimidation by the courts explaining to the citizens that fines will increase over posted bail if you lose your case. Don’t be intimidated, stand your ground!
Do your homework, it’s all available on the internet. You will need to spend 10 – 20 hours prepping your case. Be prepared for every possible question and every eventuality. At the very worst, you will lose but you will learn how to fight back. Bring three copies of everything, one for you, one for the prosecutor and one for the judge. There is very good chance the cop won’t even show up and they will toss your ticket on that basis.
CHP motorcycle officer hides behind overpass pillar and entraps unsuspecting drivers during rush hour with a radar gun – A highly dubious practice at best.
Periodically the speed enforcement boys will work this area all day long. They ignore the 80 mph plus main freeway traffic and cite the 75 mph plus carpool lane traffic because it’s easier to pull them over and less disruptive to the main flow. Expect the motorcycles and cruisers under bridges in the shadows and around the bends, also on top of bridges at on-ramps. In addition to the usual motor officers and cruisers there is also an all-white CHP vehicle that works the area.
Motorcycle cop will stand on the right side of the freeway, pointing his radar, usually anywhere in between 11am – 3pm
Motorcycle cop will stand on the SE corner of the intersection with radar gun in hand clocking anyone driving east bound on Friars Rd.