How a Motorola Droid Got a Guy Out of a Speeding Ticket
By Mike Schuster February 23, 2011 11:22 AM
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Smartphones can do many things. They can locate the nearest movie theater, transcribe your voicemails, even put you face-to-face with a caller via video conferencing. But rarely, very rarely, can they dispute the claim of a police officer.
For most folks, once we're nabbed by the long arm of the law and issued a traffic ticket, we swallow our pride and mail in a check. And even when we're in the right, county courts don't give us much of a choice by forcing us to miss work in order to defend ourselves. By design, it's a real boon to local coffers.
But one resident of Yolo County in California chose to fight a traffic ticket and keep his record clean. And the guy was crazy enough to hedge his bets on the testimony of a Motorola Droid.
Then again, with a plan so crazy, it just had to work.
Skatter Tech relates Sahas Katta's story:
As a brand new Motorola Droid owner, I was in the rush of trying just about every app that appeared in the Android Marketplace. One that particularly stood out and had me excited was My Tracks by Google. This free app records and visualizes your GPS data on a map, which is something I always wanted to try. I began using app while jogging, biking to class, and even when driving.
I fortunately happened to have Google Tracks running when an officer cited me for speeding while heading back home from a friend's place. The speed limit in the area was a mere 25 miles per hour and the cop's radar gun shockingly clocked me driving over 40 miles per hour. In a panicked mental state, I simply handed over my driver's license, insurance, and registration information without asking any questions. I was confident that I was within the posted speed limit in the back of my mind, but I just apologized and went my way instead of speaking up.
Once I parked my car in the apartment lot, I immediately realized that I had Google Tracks running as a background process as I reached to grab my phone from the dashboard mount. As I walked in, I pulled up my history for the previous session which displays information such as distance, average speed, average moving speed, and max speed. It even stores maximum and minimum elevation levels for those that need it. More importantly, I found that my phone only recorded a top speed of just 26 miles per hour, significantly lower than the cited speed. I now knew I was not speeding.
Faced with either attending traffic school or standing before a judge, Katta chose to attend court. But not only was he brazen enough to act as his own attorney, he questioned the officer based off information on his Droid.
Taking hints from a lawyer that spoke on behalf of a defendant shortly before me, I decided to ask the officer a few questions about the day he cited me. It turned out that the officer did not recall the last time he attended radar gun training, when the device was last calibrated, or the unit's model number. I then presented my time stamped GPS data with details about my average moving speed and maximum speed during my short drive home. Both numbers were well within the posted speed limits.
Flying in the face of logic and Katta's police brutality hearing in the presumable future, the judge ruled in favor of Katta. Of course, he made sure to clarify that the ruling was based on the officer's lack of evidence rather than the Droid's GPS technology -- something he admitted he knew little about.
Oh, fine. Not only did Katta win a case with the help of his smartphone, but he made the policeman look foolish and unprepared in the process.
Keep an eye out for his face on a milk carton soon.
Good for him!
.. made sure to clarify that the ruling was based on the officer's lack of evidence rather than the Droid's GPS technology -- something he admitted he knew little about. ..
A win is a win, I suppose. I'm glad he won though, evidence notwithstanding.
The original article found here:
A high school kid got a ticket. His parents had installed a gps & downloaded the info weekly. They went to court and presented the evidence of not speeding. The judge was not comfortable ruling against an officer's sworn statement. He decided on deferred prosecution instead. At least the kid did not have a violation on his record. He thanked the parents for caring about their child.
In this case it showed the guy was not speeding. For every action there is a reaction, so it's also possible that the cops could use the data at another time to help convict you.
Beware of what you ask for. you might just get it.
Could you please elaborate on your statement.
Submitted by Droid2
Cop pulls you over for speeding, notices you have smartphone or gps with tracklog capabilities, seizes aforementioned item as evidence in the speeding case. Not too hard to imagine.
Either way, you're gonna be cited anyway.
Hey!!!! Whatever works!
Great story! Made my day.
I HATE this type of sensationalist article - the Droid did NOT get him out of the ticket. How do I know?
I had a similar issue and presented my Nuvi's track-log to the judge.
The prosecution pointed out that there was no calibration record, nor proof that the data might not have been tampered with - the judge agreed - and any judge with a grain of intelligence would see it the same way (but heck, I had to try).
In the end I got out of the ticket anyway, because their calibration records for the laser gun included a 'tuning fork' test - these are only used for radar gear. The judge agreed that if, in fact they didn't know how to calibrate the device then the results couldn't be depended upon - and that's the situation 'Mr. Droid had too.
As it happens, I also have a tracker in my car - however the reporting intervals are 10 minutes, which means that it isn't likely to be of any use in fighting a ticket - and, while it e-mails me when the car is speeding - that is a fixed number and I have it set to 65 mph - otherwise I'd get getting 50 messages a day.
As to comment about getting unanticipated consequences, - I agree absolutely. They are already trialling GPS to calculate road taxes in Oregon and use black box evidence in accident investigations. You CAN expect that if you are a smart-ass, some cop WILL grab your phone to serve as forensic proof that you WERE speeding - if only to prevent evidence tampering.
If the cop had actually asked for the GPS, it's top speed showed 105.... I promptly erased that tidbit and filed the device in the glove box.... :-/
they already have used IPass etc in divorce cases and criminal cases.
Establishing presence is one thing. Establishing actions is another.
Besides, iPass use doesn't prove the person was anywhere, just that his pass most likely was.
I believed they used it to break alibi's, but in the same vein, what about RLC's unless they take a picture of the driver, they assume the owner was driving and they get to pay the ticket.
I HATE this type of sensationalist article -
- the Droid did NOT get him out of the ticket. How do I know?
Because it plainly says so in the article text?
Most people only read the headline, maybe skim the text, and take away an impression.
Most articles are sensationalist, that's what I hate.
So I guess anybody who took theirs on a plane should take a picture of your top speed as a keep sake and delete the evidence.
It's a good thing he forgot to mention the phone info to the cop, avoiding the reckless driving and failure to yield citations that would have been added on.
Huh?? How do you figure?
Huh?? How do you figure?
So they often hedge their bets by tacking on spurious charges that are more difficult to dispute . . .
Can you stop this nonsense about gps getting anyone out of ticket? There are some people who may actually believe that with his/her gps they can beat ticket. The reason Mr. Katta was cleared of charges:
It turned out that the officer did not recall the last time he attended radar gun training, when the device was last calibrated, or the unit's model number.
Judge made sure to clarify that the ruling was based on the officer's lack of evidence rather than the Droid's GPS technology
If cop in this case would have actual certifications there is no way that even most beautifully printed data from customer gps would get him out of ticket.
If you like to continue this pseudo-legal discussion put a warning to people that you are not a lawyers. We have people who drive into lake because "gps make them do it". I don't think we need people, who will blame this website for wrong legal advice.
I don't think we need people, who will blame this website for wrong legal advice.
If someone uses a POI website for legal advice they have bigger problems then trying to get out of a speeding ticket!!
I need a smart phone.
Rath *waiting for the upgrade fairy*
Hopefully he wasn't using his cell phone while driving though!
Droid does NOT get speeding tickets.
Lack of evidence is what got him out of the ticket.
My Garmin GPS often records max speeds of 300 or more mph. It may be due to the fact it was turned off, and then turned back on later, and the software somehow computed a high speed due to the location difference.
Have always wondered about that. Great news, a phone with gps and camera, weapons for the masses against the system!
I've always found it amazing the lengths people might go to, to get out of something. I always ask myself, is what you're doing something you would teach a child to do. If yes, then it might be the right thing. If not, it might be the wrong thing.
My last ticket was less than 1 mile from my house, 52 in a 25. That's double the speed limit, plus 2, and enough points such that one more would result in driving school and a suspension.
It probably was totally normal for the officer to get a thrill out of pulling over that arrogant German-car driving SOB who would do that kind of speed on a residential street with children playing.
Long story short, the officer was polite, told me he wishes he could let me go, but can't due to the speed. He urged me to go to court and not to pay the fine right off the bat.
I did, they changed the violation to a non-moving one, and all I faced was a $126 fine instead of $300+.
I have since made it a point to observe the 25 mph limit, and I have had people pumping their fists and honking at me for driving my fancy German car so slowly.
My point is that I'm part of the system, and feel that I didn't need technology to shirk my responsibility as a citizen. The limit is 25. I went 52. The fact that I could setup my droid to say otherwise is not important to me. I broke the law, and am willing to pay a fine, but appreciate if it could be made to be reasonable. In my case, they gave me a break worth about $180-$250 on the spot and 40% for 3 years on the insurance. Not only that, I've learned a lesson, something we can still do as adults.
I've noticed that most speeding tickets are thrown out because radar guns are not certified within the scheduled time as required. It's very common, and seems to be the reason most are tossed; it's how lawyers get you out of tickets so often.
By listening to the others before him, and asking the officer when his radar gun was last tested and certified, and getting the answer he did that it hadn't been done within the time frame that it should have, he'd have gotten his ticket torn up even without his phones proof. If the equipment can't show it's been tested and certified, how can they say it's working as it should, etc.
I wonder if he hadn't asked those questions, or if the officers answers showed the equipment was certified and tested when it should have been, if the judge would have responded in his favor just based on his phones info?
I seriously doubt it.
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