Iowa VASCAR Aerial Speed Enforcement

The Iowa Highway Patrol often uses VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder) as a means of speed enforcement. Often, this will take the form of a police officer in a light airplane, who uses a stopwatch to measure the time it takes for a car to pass between a series of lines painted in the roadway. Based upon the time measurements, the speed of the vehicle can computed, and radioed to an officer on the ground who issues a citation.

VASCAR is more difficult to detect than radar or lidar, as the light aircraft used is virtually impossible to notice when driving. There is no warning from a radar or lidar detector, and motorists are often surprised when they are flagged down by the officer on the ground some number of minutes after the speed measurement has been taken.

Often, VASCAR speeding tickets are issued for a much high speed violation than those given by ground-based speed enforcement methods. With a sufficiently high speed violation, even a single ticket can cause a license suspension. It is for that reason that I have had multiple clients retain me to fight their VASCAR tickets and license suspensions.

As a pilot myself, I have a good understanding of the errors that can be made in VASCAR speed enforcement by the officer in the air. That includes issues relating to winds, visibility, the need for the officer to simultaneously fly the aircraft in accordance with FAA rules while attempting to measure speed, etc. These issues, coupled with the inherent unreliability of VASCAR as compared to other speed measurement methods, can form the basis for a good defense.

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