HOUSTON --13 Undercover has evidence that thousands of the speeding tickets may not be worth the paper they're written on. You know how many speeding tickets were given out last year just by Harris County lawmen and Houston police? Nearly a quarter of a million for just speeding, and if you've got one, you know they make it time consuming and expensive to fight it, even if you think you're innocent. But maybe you should be fighting because you could say "gotcha!" "Gotcha!" You ever wonder if that's what they say when their radar gun says you're speeding? "Radars used should be tested, upgraded, calibrated, and the training of the officers is very critical," Harris County Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino said. So when we started asking questions, Trevino said he immediately suspended the use of radar. "Whatever equipment we're using to eventually punish someone, then it's got to be up to some standard. I mean, it's got to be," he said. Now, it's our turn to say "gotcha!" If you're the guy who got the ticket, Harris County Pct. 7 Constable's Office Deputy Chief Goree Anderson says "it's pretty important to you," especially if you got a speeding ticket on the southern stretch of Beltway 8. You've got to give Precinct 7 credit. They let us watch radar in action. "Anything over 65 is considered speeding," Harris County Pct. 7 Deputy J. West said. But how do we know the radar is accurate? "These things have to be checked for accuracy every day," Speed Measurement Laboratories President Carl Fors said. "I need to strike that tuning fork." A tuning fork that is set at 35 miles per hour, the radar should say 35 too when you whack that tuning fork, says Fors. Precinct 7 knows that. "The policy says that the tuning fork is to be used at the beginning of the shift," Anderson said. Of course, you can't test the radar if you don't have a tuning fork. "We do not have tuning forks, no," West said. On four of the six radar units we checked, Precinct 3 admitted some of their tuning forks were missing, too. "Do you think a radar gun used without a tuning fork should be used to pull someone over and give them a speeding ticket?" 13 Undercover asked Chief Anderson. "I would question the use of it," he replied. And that's what we're doing. "Do you think it's a problem that you guys don't have tuning forks?" we asked Deputy West. "I feel that the devices work efficiently, at least the laser works efficiently without the tuning forks," he replied. That's because you don't use tuning forks to test a laser gun. "It's as simple as pointing and clicking," West said. But how do they make sure the laser is accurate? "At the beginning of their shift, when they check out the device, they do a self check of the device itself," Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. They simply push one button. But there's just one problem. "The self-test button doesn't mean the laser is accurate?" 13 Undercover asked Fors. "It does not, because it's not transmitting anything," Fors replied. That means there's no way of knowing if tickets given out by sheriff's deputies using lasers are accurate. Maybe that's a question you should be asking. "The question I would have is did you check your radar laser gun for accuracy and how did you do that?" Fors said. Fors should know. He teaches cops how to use lasers. You have to measure the same object from the same spot every time to test a laser's accuracy. Hear our expert tell you what you should ask if you do fight because we are questioning the constables -- the ones who write the most speeding tickets. And you'll want to hear their confession.
October 29, 2010 9:23:08 AM PDT