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Police Utilize Two Pacing Methods to Determine Speed Violations: Lag Pacing and Aircraft

As a responsible driver, your best defense against a traffic violation or accident is your own awareness of your speed, the driving conditions, and your surroundings. If you notice an aircraft hovering flying above the roadway, or sense a car maintaining a consistent distance behind you intently following you, it may be the Washington State police employing a pacing method to determine whether you are in compliance with the posted speed limit.


Enlisting the Aid of an Aircraft is a Common Ploy Used to Cite Traffic Violators and Issue Speeding Tickets.

You may have noticed police aircraft flying above our I-90 corridor. This is a well-known area for aircraft pacing maneuvers. Aircraft pacing works this way: One officer flies above the road and scans for vehicles that appear to be exceeding the legal speed limit. They use pre-placed painted markers on the roadway and clock the car between the two marks. It’s that easy. If you are found to be speeding, the officer communicates to a second car on the ground and you are pulled over. If you are paced by aircraft, you have one advantage the government often fails to provide the mandatory affidavits from the observing officer. Without that affidavit, the evidence of speed lacks the necessary foundation.

Lag Vehicle Pacing is another method police use to catch traffic violators not observing the speed limit.

If an officer suspects that you are speeding, he can lag pace your vehicle. It’s a simple procedure that requires a police car covertly follow your vehicle, lagging behind at a constant distance, adhering to the speed limit. The officer uses his speedometer to determine his speed. After driving a quarter of a mile or so, the officer will check if the suspected speeder is pulling ahead. If so, he will cite the driver for speeding.

You have several defenses against the lag pacing method. First, there is a burden of proof on the government to prove the accuracy of the officer’s speedometer. The speedometer must be calibrated and certified regularly. If the certification is requested in the proper manner, the government must comply and deliver it to the defense. Next, lag pacing itself is not foolproof. It is difficult to determine the exact speed of the alleged speeder. A lag pace is  more of an estimate than a precise speed measurement. The more accurate method is for the officer to pace with his own vehicle, maintaining a static speed, presumably above the legal limit, and then cite the driver at that speed.

As you can see, lag pacing creates many defenses for a driver to demonstrate that he's been wrongfully accused of speeding. The Law Firm of Michael D. Sheehan, has helped thousands of Washington state residents successfully fight their traffic violations. Drivers who want to avoid fines, increased insurance rates, or a tarnished driving record should contact Mr. Sheehan today.

If you would like to hire Mr. Sheehan to fight your traffic infraction or criminal traffic charge, please click here: whattodo.html


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