Chicago court says LIDAR is scientifically admissible for speeding tickets

Feb. 12, 2010
Chicago, IL--Traffic Court in Chicago may stop dismissing laser-based speeding tickets because a judge ruled that LIDAR speed detectors were scientifically admissible in the court.

Chicago, IL--Traffic Court in Chicago may stop dismissing speeding tickets based on laser gun readings because a judge ruled Wednesday that LIDAR (or lidar) speed detectors were scientifically admissible in the court, according to a story by Megan Twohey in the Chicago Tribune. The court did not conduct its own hearing on the matter as planned. Instead, the judge determined that a recent Illinois Appellate Court ruling upholding the admissibility of LIDAR detectors would apply in the Cook County case.

“I now have an authoritative court opinion ... lidar is acceptable,” Judge Eileen Burke said.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the defense attorney in the case said the decision resolved a legal issue that had allowed many Chicago motorists nabbed for speeding by a laser gun, instead of radar, to see their tickets thrown out. Over the last year, Traffic Court determined that speeds captured by LIDAR were not admissible because the devices had not been subjected to a Frye hearing in which they were proved to be scientifically reliable.

The Appellate Court upheld a DuPage County court ruling that found LIDAR speed detection scientifically sound and cited similar court rulings out of Maryland, Hawaii, Idaho and Washington. “In our view, these decisions are ample authority that the use of lidar to measure the speed of moving vehicles is based on generally accepted scientific principles,” the Appellate Court said in its decision.

“The ruling will apply throughout this court,” agreed Peter Goutos, supervisor of the state’s attorney’s traffic division. But the city Law Department, which prosecutes most traffic tickets in Chicago, was not as certain. The department has a separate Frye hearing on a city case scheduled for next month. “Before we decide not to proceed, we need to determine if the Traffic Court judges as a whole are going to accept lidar technology based on (Wednesday’s) decision and the 2nd District Appellate Court decision,” said Jenny Hoyle, spokeswoman for the department.

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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