Prosecutor decries court ruling on speeding


POSTED: Saturday, October 03, 2009

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle says a state Supreme Court ruling overturning a man's conviction for excessive speeding “;will open up a whole new can of worms.”;

The court ruled this week that it is not enough for a police officer to testify that he conducted test procedures of a laser speed-measuring device before using it to issue tickets. The state also has to provide evidence that the manufacturer recommended those procedures to verify that the device is operating properly, the court ruled.

The ruling overturns an Oahu man's excessive-speeding conviction because without that evidence the state cannot prove that the device was correctly calibrated.

Carlisle said that the problem can be fixed by either providing literature from the manufacturer or testimony from the officer who was trained to properly operate and test the device and who in turn trained other officers.

But Carlisle fears the added step will invite calls for even more procedures to verify the accuracy of speeds recorded by police officers.

“;It'll open up a whole new can of worms,”; Carlisle said, “;This is another example of the law of rules rather than the rule of law.”;

He said Honolulu police have been using the laser devices since 1996 in tens of thousands of cases to great effect to save lives.

The Supreme Court case involves a man whom a police officer ticketed for traveling 90 mph on the H-1 freeway on Sept. 5, 2007, near the Radford pedestrian overpass. The speed limit on that portion of the freeway is 55 mph.

A Honolulu district judge found the man guilty of excessive speeding, ordered him to pay a $650 fine and $137 in fees and to perform 36 hours of community service, and suspended the man's driver's license for 30 days.

A person commits the offense of excessive speeding by operating a vehicle at least 30 mph over the posted speed limit or 80 mph regardless of the speed limit.