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Pacing and VASCAR

What is Pacing?

Pacing is the most low-tech speed measuring technique. The officer simply keeps pace with the target vehicle. The officer then testifies that he maintained a constant distance from the target vehicle and states the speed of his cruiser's speedometer at the time.

Can an Officer Pace from the Side, in-Front, or Behind?

Many drivers do not know that an officer can pace a vehicle that is to the side of, in front of, or behind his vehicle. Some officers will pace a vehicle that is on a highway while the cruiser is on a parallel access road. The most popular technique is to tailgate the target vehicle either directly behind or just one lane to the right of the target vehicle's back bumper.

When a vehicle pulls up behind a police cruiser, some officers will gradually speed up to see how fast the driver is willing to go while pacing the driver.

Police Speedometer Calibration Certificates

In order to use pacing in court, a police officer should have had their cruiser's speedometer calibrated recently, usually within 6 months before a ticket is written. Speedometer calibrations are performed by testing the cruiser's speedometer against a dashboard-mounted radar unit or by using a dynamometer.

Common Pacing Errors and Defenses

Pacing errors often occur when an officer does not pace for a sufficient amount of time. Another common error occurs when an officer accelerates in order to catch up with a speeder and does not decelerate completely prior to beginning the pace. Other errors include attempting to pace a car that is accelerating or decelerating, pacing a car that is changing lanes or separated by other traffic, and pacing a vehicle that is too far away. Police video can be very helpful in defending a pacing case.

An officer cannot accurately pace on a curve if the target car is in another lane. He will have to drive faster to keep up with a vehicle that is closer inside the curve or drive slower if the vehicle is farther outside the curve. If you were paced on a curve and the officer was not in the same lane tell your traffic attorney immediately.

What is VASCAR?

VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder) is a computerized stopwatch system attached to a police cruiser's speedometer and is used to assist in pacing. VASCAR reads the speedometer of the cruiser and uses stopwatch data provided by the officer to calculate speed by first calculating the distance between the target vehicle and the cruiser at multiple points along the road. By calculating the distance of a vehicle at multiple points, the officer can pace from long distances and can pace traffic heading in the opposite direction. In order to use VASCAR in a trial, the VASCAR computer system and the cruiser's speedometer must have been calibrated within the last six months and the VASCAR system must be physically attached to the cruiser's speedometer cable.