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Unipar speeding, Paisley JP, July 2016

This was a Unipar speeding case at Paisley JP. The Unipar gun is the laser gun of choice for much of Police Scotland and is used throughout the country. It is a ‘type-approved’ device and is therefore said to be reliable. What this case proved, however, is that the gun is only as reliable as the operator.

Our client’s speed was recorded in a speeding ‘hotspot’ near the town of Johnstone, Renfrewshire. The speed limit (to the surprise of many people) is 30mph on the stretch of road concerned. To all intents and purposes, the road has the appearance of a country road. Until a few years ago, the national speed limit of 60mph was applicable. Our client was allegedly driving at 40mph, which he denied.

Upon receiving the police evidence, it was immediately obvious that there was something wrong with this Unipar speeding case. In every case, the Unipar gun will record the distance at which the speed is measured. In this particular case, a number of factors were relevant – the distance, the location of the police officers and the topography of the road.

At our initial locus inspection, it was clear that the topography of the road meant that the police view was limited. we instructed an independent expert. He was able to prove that the police – at best – could only see the top part of the car at the point the speed had been recorded. The officer claimed he had targeted the number plate of our client’s vehicle but we proved that this was impossible. At the distance concerned, he could only have struck the bonnet or the windscreen. Either of these causes a phenomenon called ‘slip’, leading to an incorrect speed reading.

In the face of this evidence, the prosecutor declined to continue with the case and our client was acquitted.