What constitutes "evidence"?

Discussion in 'Cars, cycling and transport' started by DumbleDee, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. DumbleDee

    DumbleDee New Member

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    Hello all,

    This is about a case where my wife was accused of speeding and found the whole court process to be quite odd and surreal. I think the best way to explain it is in sequence...

    Oct 2016 - Wife gets a fixed charge notice saying she was doing 86 in an 80Kph zone in Aug 2016. She finds this odd as our cars inbuilt GPS is fitted with a speed warning and she knows the bypass where it happened has a reduced special speed limit, so she decides to wait for the summons and fight it.

    Mar 2016 Summons arrives for a Sept court date. We enter the GPS co-ordinates in the summons photos in to various mapping sites (Google, Here, Bing, and OSi) and they all show that the speed van was reporting that it was some 50 meters away from the layby in which it actually was. We feel that this calls in to question the accuracy of the speed reading. If one part of the system was so inaccurate how can we be sure the rest of it was any better? According the the US gov consumer grade GPS are expected to be accurate to 4.9m, commercial, scientific and evidence GPS systems should have much better accuracy.

    Sept 2016 - Case adjourned as court was backlogged.

    Oct 2016 - Wife states our case. Prosecuting Sargent sates "we dont use that American GPS", he asks for an adjournment and says he will download all the logs and give them to us as the next court date.

    Nov 2016 - Before court sits, Sargent says he has no more info to hive than what was on the summons. He gives us a Google StreetView printout of the layby which says that proves the co-ordinates are correct. I point out the co-ordinates in the printout are different to the summons, his reponce is to say "GPS is just an approximation, because the earth is round it can't be more accurate than 50 meters". I wanted to tell him he was talking nonsense as I used to write software for emergency locator beacons for Raytheon.

    My wife is called up. The Sargent explains his case, and he offers up the StreetView printout to the judge. My wife is asked for her side she says that she is questioning the accuracy of the equipment due to the inaccuracy of the GPS details. She offers up printouts from GPS.gov (the official GPS website) stating what the expected accuracy of various GPS devices should be as well as how GPS works. The judge refuses the printouts saying they are just hearsay and information but not evidence. She argues some more, but he repeats that he is refusing to take any pieces of paper from her. She argues the Sargent's printout is inaccurate, but the judge says she should get a certified expert to refute that. She asks if I can speak for her explaining my work history and knowledge of GPS - he refuses. Next she is fined €150 and sent on her way.

    So in a nutshell the whole process has left us bemused. The Garda Sargent was able to offer up printouts from Google as evidence but my wife couldn't. The Sargent had a very poor grasp of how the speed detection equipment works and the judge didn't know that GPS co-ordinates were embedded in the summons photo until my wife showed him.

    Part of us wants to get a solicitor involved and appeal it, but we also know that is risky as the fine can be increased. For now we are trying to work out what happened. Was due process followed? Were our maps, and printouts really not proper evidence. Basically we are confused by it all.
     
  2. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
    Your premise is nonsensical. The GPS reading serves to prove that the incident happened where alleged, and 50 metres sounds like more than adequate accuracy. The operating principles of the speed detector have nothing whatsoever to do with GPS which, as an intelligent person with a technical background, you already know. You might as well be arguing that the detection was wrong because the detector van had a bald tyre. The judge was right to throw out such an attempt at obfuscation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  3. noproblem

    noproblem Frequent Poster

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    Maybe if your GPS co-ordinates show you were not in the place the summons says, then that would certainly refute the sergeants evidence. Only thing is, it's all going to take time and cost money. By the way I was always told that there's leeway of aprox 10% with the speed before a summons would be issued, your speed suggests that's not true and even though you were only just over I do feel sorry for your wife.
     
  4. DumbleDee

    DumbleDee New Member

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    We asked around about this and apparently its a myth. They could issue a summons for 1Kph over and argue that it is up to you to ensure your speedo is accurate. One of the cases before my wife was for 54 in a 50.
     
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  5. DumbleDee

    DumbleDee New Member

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    Ah now, either the whole system is calibrated and working as intended, or it isn't.

    No serious commercial GPS user would ever accept 50 meter accuracy as acceptable - especially when you have logistics firms trying to make sure their drivers are driving correctly. 50 meters accuracy acceptable for a drone? No way. So you should expect evidence grade GPS to be a bit better.

    But the biggest issue was that the judge would not even consider our evidence. Does that not concern you? By all means dismiss the evidence.. but surely only after you have seen it?
     
  6. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    There isn't the slightest reason to accept that assertion. The speed detectors are regularly callibrated. I don't see any reason to callibrate the GPS at all.

    Due to your mistaken starting premise, I would say your evidence was irrelevant.
     
  7. DumbleDee

    DumbleDee New Member

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    I am most sorry. I have quite clearly come to the wrong forum.

    I am genuinely surprised that someone who calls themselves "nerd" didn't actually read and understand the main thrust of my post.

    If GPS doesn't need to be calibrated why is it such a prominent part of the summons?

    I will withdraw to a different forum. I am sorry for intruding. I am clearly below your moral superiority.
     
  8. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    Because they have to establish where it happened. But I can't see how it matters that they are within five metres accuracy, or ten or twenty. Can you? Fifty sounds just fine. I'm guessing they probably have a photo of your reg plate, so the fact of your car being in approximately the same place as their detector is presumably beyond dispute. None of this has any bearing on the accuracy of the speed detector itself, which is probably a different device (not that it matters). The connection you are trying to make between the two simply doesn't exist. It's a patently fatuous argument.

    If you're trying to obfuscate to get off a speeding fine then yes, I suppose you are. I hope you didn't take that tone with the judge.
     
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  9. Tebbit

    Tebbit Frequent Poster

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    54 in a 50 is really sad to see someone get a fine for this. Shouldn't happen. I also feel 86 in an 80 is OTT. Gardai should not be fining such people at all
     
  10. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    I agree. There's a sense of shooting fish in a barrel here. You can see much more egregious driving offences on any road, any day of the week.
     
  11. Leper

    Leper Frequent Poster

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    Couple of Points:- 1. One kilometre of speed over the limit is over the limit. It is small but if 35kms were to be allowed in a 30km zone then there would be people complaining that they were "caught" doing 36kms per hour. I think some are getting confused with the car speed reading which is usually up to 10% on the safe side of the indication.
    2. Either the whole speed camera situation is faulty or it is not? Is the OP somebody who would complain about the fluidity of water if an issue?

    I am not God and I can't give a truthful opinion bearing in mind the whole court system which appears to be a release button for drunk drivers.

    In favour of the OP I am sure the €150.00 fine was only a fraction of the legal costs involved.

    Garda Sergeants and Judges are guys who are on the spot and must make nearly instant decisions otherwise our court system would grind to a halt. Our court system is not great but it is the best we have. I note also no professionals on the subjects involved were hired.

    Just Thinking:- We have courts of Law not courts of Justice.
     
  12. Buddyboy

    Buddyboy Frequent Poster

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    Also to note, that if the fine was for 86kph (in an 80 kph zone), then her speedometer was probably reading 95kph. At least all of my cars/bikes would be as they all read around 10% above actual speed. For example, if my Hyundai shows 35mph, then I am actually doing 30mph as per GPS.

    So, her speedometer was (most likely) reading 95 when she was in the 80kph zone.

    Also have to agree with Dub_nerd, GPS location of the van has nothing to do with the speed detection equipment (which uses either laser, or similar). The OP is on a hiding to nothing if they are trying to argue that the speed is incorrect, based on the fact that gps co-ordinates on the photo are not withing 50m accuracy.

    But, then again, as they have picked up their ball and left in a huff, the point is moot :)
     
  13. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Can you write here an exact copy of how to location coordinates were stated on the documentation you received. Many people misunderstand coordinates as specifying an exact point, when in fact they refer to an area, the size of which is determined by the number of digits the coordinates are described to.

    The purpose of providing the coordinates is just to indicate the general location of the offence as required by the legislation. There is however no requirement in law for this location to be accurate to within metres. The speed camera readings are in no way linked to the GPS system, so challenging their accuracy on those grounds was never likely to work. Did you take any legal advice prior to pursuing this course of action?

    EU regulations dictate how accurate speedometers have to be (read them in all their tedious glory here). They must never under read, which means every single car speedo will indicate a higher speed, and at an indicated 80km/h, the maximum permissible speedo reading is 92km/h. SatNav speed readings are often more accurate, but all will depend on the quality of the GPS unit. The margin if error of each reading and how often it is taking readings all plays a part. Most don't cope well with elevation changes either.
     
  14. Slim

    Slim Frequent Poster

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    My last Mondeo read about 10% above the actual. I know this because I was done for 89kph in an 80 zone. The funny thing is I had my cruise control set at 100kph as I believed I was in a 100kph zone, so more than 10% variation. Current Mondeo seems to be accurate according to those occasional speed limiting displays.

    OP was missing the point that you can't bring documents into court without a witness or expert to verify and, anyway, what could the location of the van have to do with the speed his wife was doing, unless it was miles away?
     
  15. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

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    One thing to note is that speedos are tested and calibrated using a specified wheel size & tyre combination. For example, my Avensis was delivered from the factory fitted with 17" wheels and 215/50/17 tyres. If DitchFinders & Co in Ballymagash has a sale on 215/55/17s when it comes time to re-boot her, I might just buy them if the price is right. Assuming my speedo is accurate, at an indicated 100 kph I'll actually be travelling at 103.3 kph with my brand new tyres.

    That example shows how a small change to the size of the OE tyres makes a liar of your speedo, so unless drivers know what they're doing, they're better off replacing like for like (unless they know how to shop for improved wet-weather performance, fuel economy, braking distance, etc)
     
  16. elcato

    elcato Moderator

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    Lads - another solution is to actually slow down.
     
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  17. Buddyboy

    Buddyboy Frequent Poster

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    That's crazy talk !
    The internet would stop working, I mean, what would we give out about? (apart from Ryanair, buses, tradesmen, the public service, the private service, the weather, the roads, the telly, the banks, the clergy, .........)
     
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  18. johnwilliams

    johnwilliams Frequent Poster

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    just on speedo accuracy, i assume those flashing speed signs on side of road are accurate ,i use them to judge difference of speedo reading
     
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  19. SparkRite

    SparkRite Frequent Poster

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    Here's another slant on it lads and lassies......or maybe it is the OPs thinking.

    If the location of the detector was given as evidence, which I'm not sure about, but maybe it was, or why else give GPS co-ords, then it follows that if that can be proven to be inaccurate then all "evidence" collated thereafter must also be in question.


    PS:- Anyway I think the OP got into a huff when he didn't get full support here, so we're probably left discussing this among ourselves. :)
     
  20. Buddyboy

    Buddyboy Frequent Poster

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    I was in a huff once, damn fast cars those! :)