Written by Gregory Monte.
As I indicated in a previous blog post, a Pennsylvania State Police Officer using radar is not permitted to issue a ticket for merely traveling 1 mph over the limit. Specifically, Title 75, Section 3368(c)(4) indicates that:
“No person may be convicted upon evidence obtained through the use of [speed-monitoring] devices … unless the speed recorded is six or more miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit.”
In other words, you get a 6mph “break” when it comes to speeding. Even more reasonable, in that exact same section, drivers are given a 10mph “break” when the speed limit is less than 55mph – you cannot be convicted of a speed violation …
“… in an area where the legal speed limit is less than 55 miles per hour if the speed recorded is less than ten miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit.”
Home Free? Not So Fast …
So, what about a case where the police officer decides to give you a “break.” Say that you were really going 73 mph in a 55 zone but he writes on the ticket that you were only traveling 60 mph?
This is exactly what happened to the appellant in the 2016 Superior Court case Commonwealth v. Karash.
“On March 29, 2015, Appellant was traveling on Route 8 in Erie County when he drove by Pennsylvania State Trooper Joshua Deitle and was clocked with a radar gun as traveling 73 miles per hour (“mph”) in a 55 mph zone. The trooper cited Appellant for traveling 60 mph in a 55 mph zone.”
Because Mr. Karash was familiar with Title 75, Section 3368(c)(4) quoted earlier, he thought he was home free. After all, the ticket said he was only going 60 in a 55 zone and the law clearly states that you have to be going “six or more miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit.”
Well, Mr. Karash lost this case – but he didn’t just leave it at that. He appealed, noting (among other things) that the citation was unfairly amended before the trial:
“On April 21st, 2015, Assistant District Attorney and Trooper Deitle amended the traffic citation at Appellant’s hearing in front of Magisterial District Judge Carol L. Southwick … to reflect 73 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone, the speed Appellant was actually traveling when Trooper Deitle timed his vehicle.”
Unfortunately for Karash, the court determined that it was OK to modify the citation:
“… the amendment to the traffic citation was proper as the same basic elements were involved and the traffic citation arose from the same factual situation — Appellant traveling in excess of the maximum speed limit, which was timed by a Pennsylvania State Police trooper using an approved speed timing device.”
Despite his loss, you have to at least give Karash credit for giving it a try. At least we all now know not to repeat his mistake.