The State of Florida strongly advocates that every law enforcement agency within the state should write as many speeding tickets as it has speeders. Granted, this directive is under the guise of public safety, but I think most of us can agree that it is really just a profit-generating practice to help meet budgetary shortfalls. Although the issuance of speeding tickets is a multi-million dollar industry, there are ways that you can avoid being just another cog in this for-profit machine.
The most obvious way to avoid a speeding ticket is to never speed. This sounds easy enough, but let’s face it, it is not very practical advice. This is especially true now during the crush of the holiday season. Last minute shopping for that forgotten gift or because you just found out that Aunt Bertha is going to be showing up on Christmas morning can make anyone crazy. Then there is the grocery shopping for your holiday meal. This is something that, for the most part, can’t be done too far in advance lest you end up giving your family a gift that keeps on giving such as food poisoning. Those of us who live in South Florida may not have to worry too much about inclement weather, but this region is already fraught with traffic headaches. Consequently, the increased density of traffic caused by last minute holiday arrangements can be quite frustrating, causing drivers to not only speed, but possibly even drive recklessly in their efforts to get out of the madness and back to the relative sanity of their homes.
Here are some more practical suggestions of how to steer clear of speeding tickets:
- Choose a speed and stick with it. I have heard a state trooper say, “At nine, you’re fine; at ten, you’re mine.” Now, I think that is a bit risky, but I would say that five miles per hour over the speed limit is GENERALLY safe. I am not advocating that you speed at all; I am simply pointing out that unless a cop really has it in for you or is determined to write someone a speeding ticket, this is probably a speed that is unlikely to result in a speeding citation. Of course, this assumes highway driving. The lower the speed limit, the greater the offense five miles per hour over the limit becomes. It is not advisable in a 20 mph zone, school zone, or other area where 5 mph is a significant percentage higher than the speed limit.
- Allow someone who is traveling faster than you are to lead the way. For some drivers, driving can be very much like a video game – any car or truck in front of you is an obstacle to be overtaken. This is a bad idea because not only does it usually result in speeding, but it also will draw the attention of any cop who is monitoring traffic. By allowing another car (or cars) to proceed you at a slightly higher speed than that which you are traveling, they will often become the target of the cop thereby taking the focus off of you. This is called pacing and it is what cops often do to cars that they feel are speeding so that they can gage how fast the suspected speeder is traveling.
- Another benefit to pacing a faster driver is that you can read his reactions to indicate whether or not he spots a police officer before you do. If he suddenly slows down when he had be moving along a fair clip or if you see him inexplicably brake, the odds are good that he has seen a cop and is trying to avoid getting pulled over. This would indicate that you should probably do the same. If the lead car happens to be a flashy sports car, then that’s even better because they tend to draw a lot of attention from police officers.
- Invest in a radar detector – a really good one. One type of detector on the market is a directional radar detector. This item has the ability to detect radar from both forward and rear directions. These devices can be quite costly, but if you tend to have a lead foot, it can be a very good investment. If you don’t know which brand is best, a little online research should be able to point you in the direction of one that will meet your needs. There are several online sites that sell radar detectors, either new or used. Or you can find websites that can steer you towards local retailers. These online sites and retailers can tell you the specific capabilities of each device, so you can make the best choice for your situation.
Radar detectors are generally legal in the state of Florida, but commercial vehicles weighing over 10,000 lbs. are not permitted to use them. If you choose to install a radar detection device, you may want to give serious consideration as to where you mount it in your car. A remote detector will allow you to locate it somewhere where it will not be obvious to the cop if you get pulled over for speeding. I am confident that if you get pulled for speeding and the cop sees a radar detector, he is going to assume you have it because you are a frequent speeder. You can pretty much be assured that this will result in your getting a speeding ticket, and he will use the presence of the device in court to support his claim that you were speeding.
No radar detection device is foolproof. Anything that is operating on the same frequency as the radar detector such as certain aircraft transponders can give a false read causing the detector to go off even if there isn’t a cop with a radar gun nearby. The device can also miss radar if the radar is being operated at a different frequency than that which the device monitors.
Be aware that although radar detectors are legal, radar jamming devices are NOT. This is considered ‘malicious interference’ which is governed by the Communications Act of 1934 as well as rules set out by the Federal Communications Committee. Get caught with this type of device and you are definitely going to be in a lot of legal trouble. Not only will the jamming device be confiscated, but you will receive a stiff fine and are probably going to need a really good traffic ticket attorney. Equally illegal are police scanners, but there are a few exceptions which include amateur radio operators, licensed alarm system workers, members of the Press who are on assignment, or drivers who have obtained written consent of the local Chief of Police or Sheriff.