The Texas Laws for Police Using Radar Guns

By Kathlyn King
The use of radar guns is lightly regulated in Texas.

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The State of Texas is fairly hands-off when it comes to regulating the use of radar guns by its police. Only a few laws exist, and they are frequently challenged in court. Although House Bill 3233 attempted to clarify some of the legislation, it was not approved by the House Public Safety Committee and never reached the floor of the House.

Radar Devices May Not Photograph a Vehicle

Police in Texas may not use radar devices that photograph a vehicle, its license plate or the driver. According to "Texas Business," when the City of Plano was contemplating the purchase of handheld radar guns, Representative Vicki Truitt specifically asked whether section 542.2035 of the Transportation Code prohibited a municipal peace officer from using a handheld laser speed enforcement device to collect evidence before initiating a traffic stop. The Texas Attorney General's office wrote that it did.

Police Must Be Trained and Certified in the Use of Radar

According to section 644.101(d) of the Texas Transportation Code, "a sheriff, a deputy sheriff or any peace officer that does not attend continuing education courses on the enforcement of traffic and highway laws and on the use of radar equipment as prescribed by Subchapter F, Chapter 1701, Occupations Code, shall not enforce traffic and highway laws," which indicates that police who use radar guns must be trained in the use of the equipment. However, the state attorney general John Cornyn wrote an opinion in 2002 that stated that Subchapter F of the Occupations Code did not actually prescribe continuing education, it merely authorized it. Because of this, a peace officer could not be required to attend courses.

Radar Guns Must Be in Good Working Order

Radar equipment must be inspected and calibrated regularly. This law has been upheld by the courts. In "Kelly v. State," "Maysonet v. State" and "Mills v. State" radar calibration has been a factor in the ruling. In "Kelly v. State" the court went beyond calibration and ruled that the officer must also be able to explain the theory underlying the gun's speed calculation.

Rumored Laws

Many people believe that a police officer must show the actual radar gun to the alleged speeder at the time of the incident, which would prove that the person was actually speeding. Not only are Texas police not required to show their radar guns, they do not have to lock in the speed on the device. All the police officer is required to do is to testify that he clocked the speed on the device at the time of the incident.

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