Police in Ohio are using aircraft (helicopters) routinely to cite speeding drivers on Ohio roads. If you are cited for speeding based on the observations of officers in a police aircraft, are there any unique defenses available?
If you are facing an aircraft speeding ticket (i.e. helicopter), some questions to ask in discovery and/or questions witnesses at trial might include:
- Can the State prove identity – i.e. that you were in fact the vehicle that was observed speeding by the aircraft? (Video evidence from the aircraft – if it exists – may be helpful on this issue)
- What process / procedures do officers use in clocking speed via aircraft? (i.e. stopwatch)
- aSee also State v. Stockinger, 6th Dist. Erie No. E- 87-17, 1987 WL 27589, *2-3 (Dec. 11, 1987) (“The courts in Ohio have recognized that the use of a stopwatch in an airplane is an appropriate ‘mechanical device’ to measure speed.”)
- Is the airspeed zone properly marked?
- Were clouds or other weather conditions impeding view of the aircraft operators / officers? What was the visibility on that day? Was anything obstructing the aircraft officer’s view of the vehicle at issue?
- What procedures officers use to ensure accuracy and proper operation of the electronic stopwatch (if used)?
- How often are they required to run a calibration check on the stopwatches? Did they run this calibration check timely?
- What procedures are used to ensure the stopwatches are working properly (not malfunctioning) before put into service on a particular day? Were those procedures followed in this case?
- How did the aircraft officer communicate the color/model of the vehicle to the officer on the ground? Did the ground officer pull over the correct vehicle?
- Did the aircraft officer verify after the vehicle was pulled over that it was in fact the same vehicle that was clocked as speeding?
- At trial, are both the aircraft officer and the ground officer available to testify at trial? Arguably, both are required to accurately testify to speed and identity of the correct vehicle.
If you are facing an aircraft speeding ticket in the Columbus area, talk to one of our Columbus speeding ticket attorneys about your potential defenses and options. Our attorneys can be reached at (614) 361-2804.