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Getting a traffic ticket in Brooklyn can be frustrating and expensive. But did you know that you may be able to get the ticket dismissed if you can prove there was something wrong with the equipment used to give you the ticket? This legal strategy is known as a “defective equipment defense”.
The basic idea behind a defective equipment defense is that if the equipment used to determine you committed a traffic violation was somehow defective, inaccurate or not properly calibrated, then the reading or evidence from that equipment cannot be relied upon.
For example, if you get a speeding ticket from a police officer using radar, but it turns out the radar gun was busted and showing incorrect speeds, then that ticket could get thrown out. Or if you get a red light camera ticket, but there was an issue with the timing or functionality of the traffic light itself, then you may be able to successfully challenge that ticket as well.
The key is being able to provide solid proof that there was in fact a problem with the equipment. This proof would need to come in the form of maintenance records, calibration logs, technician testimony or other documentation.
Here are some of the most common defective equipment arguments used to fight Brooklyn traffic tickets:
Red light cameras and speed cameras rely on highly precise sensors and timing mechanisms to work properly. Even minor technical issues with the cameras or sensors can throw off readings and trigger false violations.
Evidence that the light timing or camera accuracy was off due to lack of proper maintenance, weather conditions or interference from other equipment may help get automated camera tickets dismissed.
The first step for using a defective equipment defense is to thoroughly examine any documentation related to your traffic stop or violation. This includes the actual tickets, evidence presented, summons paperwork and any calibration or maintenance logs that may be available through a public records request.
Look closely for specifics on the device serial number, last calibration date, technician who performed the calibration and any noted issues or repairs. Any evidence showing improper maintenance, overdue testing or questionable accuracy could become the basis for your defense.
It can also be extremely helpful to consult with a traffic ticket attorney experienced with defective equipment arguments. An attorney can strategically apply the evidence you’ve gathered to demonstrate reasonable doubt over the accuracy and reliability of the equipment used in your case.
They may also be able to negotiate with the courts or district attorney’s office to get equipment maintenance records released or secure sworn statements from traffic technicians responsible for calibrating the equipment. An experienced attorney knows how to leverage documentation and testimony to build the strongest case possible.
There are a few different ways you can present a defective equipment defense, depending on the type of traffic violation:
For traffic camera tickets – Most jurisdictions allow you to submit written arguments, evidence and supporting documentation by mail when you contest a traffic camera ticket. You would point out the specific issues with calibration, maintenance or accuracy issues in written form.
During traffic court hearings – If you appear in traffic court to fight a ticket, you can introduce physical evidence, present documentation, submit technician testimony and provide oral arguments to the judge detailing the defective equipment issues. The key is to clearly establish reasonable doubt over the reliability of readings.
Formal appeals – After an initial conviction you still have the right to lodge formal appeals where you can expand in more detail on the factual evidence showing equipment defects. Appellate courts have often overturned lower court rulings when technical issues with devices are proven.
No matter which approach, the focus should be demonstrating that evidence from the equipment used cannot be deemed reliable, and so reasonable doubt exists over the actual events that led to the traffic violation.
Carefully forcing the prosecution to prove the accuracy of readings, despite proven equipment issues, can lead to dismissals.
Defective equipment defenses can and do frequently work to beat tickets. Here are just a couple recent examples:
So while fighting traffic tickets is never fun, examining the possibility of equipment defects and calibration issues can provide a solid legal strategy for getting unfair tickets dismissed. Consulting with an experienced traffic attorney to identify and argue technical issues with devices is key. Leveraging proof of equipment flaws and reliability concerns can help shift reasonable doubt in your favor during traffic court hearings or appeals.
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