Do I need to prove that I wasn’t speeding if I am wrongly accused of exceeding the speed limit?

If you elect to be prosecuted and defend a speeding allegation, there is always a presumption of innocence and prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the offence was committed. One of the things that prosecution need to prove for speeding charges is that the device used to detect the vehicle is accurate. Prosecution are allowed by the law to rely on a certificate, signed by a senior police officer, that certifies that the speed gun used was reliable and the speed alleged is accurate.

Speed guns are required to be calibrated every 12 months and a report be issued which states that the gun is accurate to within a specific margin of error. In addition, police are required to perform tests on the day that the device is used. The results of these tests are then used when producing the certificate.

In Supreme Court judgments published in July 2018 Justice Peek held that prosecution could not rely on the certificate because the daily testing by police doesn’t show that the devices are accurate to within +2/-3kph and found that the defendant did not need to prove that the device was inaccurate, but only that the daily testing done by police didn’t prove that the device was accurate to the extent claimed in the certificate.

A statement has been issued by SAPOL confirming that they are assessing the judgments “to fully comprehend if changes need to occur”. In the meantime, it is likely that defendants will continue to successfully defend speeding charges.

Ursula Matson
Senior Solicitor
Criminal Law | Police & Traffic Matters | Child Protection Law | Family & De Facto Law

Image courtesy of The New Daily.

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