Radar and Laser Jammers

Laser JammerRadar and laser detectors are currently legal to install in your vehicle and use to avoid prosecution for failing to follow the speed limits in British Columbia. One has to ask why BC is one of the few provinces in our country that has not made this illegal. If you think like I do, inappropriate speed is a significant contributor to collisions and should not be encouraged in any way. Radar and laser detectors are encouraging some drivers to drive at inappropriate speeds every day.

Radar and laser jammers are another matter entirely. While they are not illegal to install they are illegal to use to defeat police speed measurement. In fact, if you are successfully prosecuted for using them, you will have a criminal record that could prove to be a significant handicap to you later in life. The offence is in obstructing a peace officer in the execution of his duty, in this case speed measurement.

Laser jamming devices are the most commonly found because modern lidar units warn their operator that they are being jammed. Since the vehicle being targeted is known precisely, it is easy to flag the driver out of traffic and start an investigation to confirm the source of the jamming. If found, the jamming equipment will be seized and kept to present as evidence at trial. If convicted, the equipment will be forfeit in addition to any other penalty imposed by the court.

Are you willing to trade the possibility of a fine and a few penalty points for the possibility of a criminal record? Think twice about the "legal counsel" provided by the producers and sellers of jamming equipment.

Reference Links:

Offences Relating to Public or Peace Officer - Section 129 Criminal Code

Comments

Submitted by E-mail

Criminal code 129 states you need to obstruct the police officer, laser jammers simply protect the vehicle you’re in against laser, it is a countermeasure.

When there is no law, I find police bend other laws in order to justify their disapproval. You cannot use a criminal code for a motor vehicle act, if the attorney general wishes to make laser jammers illegal, then they should make a law against it.

Laser jammers do not obstruct, they simply delay the reading until the operator  turns the jammer off, I hardly find 2 seconds delay an “obstruction of justice” the officer will not get a JAM code, not unless they use Laser Atlanta, and those guns will shows JAM for many reasons, if you ever worked with laser guns before, you’ll know those laser guns will show “JAM” because of sunlight hitting the gun, car being too far away, and if the vehicle is not reflective. All modern guns do not show JAM, they simply don’t show a speed.

If the operator of the motor vehicle does not permit the officer to take a speed reading, this may become a nuisance to the officer, however if the operator simply delays the reading and shuts the jammer off, then the officer still gets his reading. The officer’s job is to do everything possible to get a speed reading, and thus they have to keep trying until the vehicle is out of sight. 2 seconds will not result in that.

If the criminal law is abused in such a  way, there is no stopping the misuse, and thus the judge will throw it out of court. Prior to  a laser gun being pointed at the driver, he is not aware of the presence of the police officer who is hiding, once the gun is aimed and shot at the vehicle, the jammer goes off, and the operator complies by turning it off.

Since there is no rule against having a jammer turned on at all times, you cannot use “obstruction of justice” because the driver has the right to operate until he is triggered, at which point he needs to be given enough time to disengage the device, after 2-3 seconds when the driver does turn the unit off, they may “slow down” to a safe speed they feel they need to before operating the button on the device. When I turn the radio up in the city, I tend to slow down first, look around me, then turn up the volume button, and thus since there is no law saying I can’t slow down before operating my radio, there is the same lack of law to slow down before operating a jammer.

I hope this makes sense, there are laws, and if the province wants to ban laser jammers then they should. Until then, it is not right to pull laws out of the criminal code to favor one’s actions.

Interesting Point of View

The courts find that having and using a laser jammer to prevent being measured by police to insure compliance with the speed laws is an offence under the Criminal Code and have convicted people in past. If it were a case of the police trying to bend the rules to cover a situation that they did not like, the courts would not convict unless they considered it proper.

You are correct when you state that the operation of a laser jammer in general is not an offence. It isn't until it prevents police from measuring the speed of your vehicle. Because the intended use of the device is just that, the mens rea occurs when you turn it on, not when you have actual knowledge of the particular speed measuring operation and form the intent to avoid it specifically. Not having knowledge that the police are there would not be a defence.

I also have personal knowledge about jamming advice displays on laser speed measuring devices that is contrary to what you state here.

Regardless of how you feel about the obstruction section of the Criminal Code being used to prosecute drivers who use laser jammers, unless the laws are changed to prevent it, it will continue and you choose to take the risk when you use one.

Submitted by E-mail

With regards to the JAM code, all the research I’ve done indicates Laser Atlanta is the only gun that will set off a JAM code with an LI (laser interceptor) unit which is what most use, others will not and this has been tested over and over.

The criminal code laws will not change and I don’t expect them to, but there was never a law created against the use of such devices, and if province doesn’t want them then they should create a law like in other parts of Canada.  If the province chooses to use a federal criminal code, then they must justify it & explain why they chose not to make it a motor vehicle act like other provinces who do not prosecute under this code. You can’t have some provinces convicting someone under the federal criminal code while other provinces not.

I do not believe this is right and I’ll pursue this further until I get some hard facts.

Submitted by E-mail

Absolutely, I don’t like seeing people getting criminal records for something that in the eastern provinces falls under the Highway act (motor vehicle act) and western provinces not being any laws against jamming equipment so people getting prosecuted under the criminal code is just ridiculous.

I appreciate your replies and being mature on the matter. Now I would like to tell you that the things that bug me the most surrounding this matter are:

1.       Enforcement using criminal code for something that should fall under the motor vehicle code, and handing down criminal charges without creating awareness.

2.       These jammer companies selling their product blatantly advertising that is absolutely okay to use these devices in 3 provinces and ignoring without making the consumer market aware of the possible persecutions they may be faced with based on historical events surrounding these devices which I know they are aware of. (I’ve personally emailed a company several links where people have been handed out violations under code 129 and 135 for these devices, and the response was “I’m sure these are not true meant as a deterrent to keep people from using these devices” ) some even marketing them as parking sensors, knowing that if prosecuted this would not mean a thing as the judge would be given evidence that the device could be used as a jammer as well, and although leaving doubt which generally results in no conviction if there is doubt, this could only work once. I also often wondered that if you jam LEO once for a few seconds you’ll get away with it, but if the same LEO sees the same car repeatedly giving off no speed reading, it’s obvious at that point something is going on. I just find its wrong that strict laser jammer companies are misinforming the public if there are criminal amplifications surrounding the intended use of these devices, and most of the public does not read past what is advertised or a simple Google search.

Only one company I know (Escort) which mostly markets their radar equipment and I stand 100% behind using radar detectors. I own two vehicles and I have never gotten one speeding ticket in my Volkswagen Passat, which I drive exactly the same as my 2007 C6 corvette. However, I’m constantly either pulled over or targeted by laser when I’m driving, this makes me feel insecure and it is profiling, although I understand it is human nature, if you have a fast car you must like to speed, and if you speed (which most of us to tend to drift over the speed limit) you stand a much higher chance of getting pulled over and handed a fine in a nice car that looks sporty and shiny (atomic orange very bright).

I also believe laser detection equipment is fine, while some may use jammers in the states where it is not prohibited, I believe that if LEO wanted to, they could confiscate the devices at the very least depending on the state.

CC Sec. 129

Re:

"If it were a case of the police trying to bend the rules to cover a situation that they did not like, the courts would not convict unless they considered it proper." 

The BC Assn of Chiefs of Police tried to get the Provincial Government to outlaw jammers in the late 90s. When they did not get a commitment to do so from the AG at the time (I will have to dig through my notes to remember who it was... probably Graeme Bobrick initially), there were several local RCMP detachments who were susequently instructed by their supervisors to cc sec. 129 to nail drivers using laser jammers.

As I promised you Tim, I shall be writing about this in my blog about the colossal wastes of money in the court system that are a direct result of police taking it upon themselves to pursue things they have no authority to pursue, and the rest of the machine in the court system that just does what it does.... simply because it can, and that it gets paid to do so regardless.

The jammer issue perfectly illustrates the point.

I was in the slow lane eastbound on Hwy 1, being passed by a truck in the fast lane, about 10 years ago when I spotted an RCMP cruiser parked in the center divide. At roughly the same time, my alarm went off on my jammer. I was not speeding (an unlikely scenario I may add... as it is for most drivers on Hwy 1) but nonetheless I was pulled over shortly thereafter and made to hand over my jammer after being told I would be charged under 129. I will spare you all the boring details about what occurred for the next year except to say there were some big screwups on the part of the RCMP and the courts, time and expenses incurred, and I eventually ended up missing a court date which resulted in a bench warrant being issued for my arrest. Six months after that, I was taken down like a common criminal at the border, on a late night return to Canada, after a CBP officer noted on CPIC that I was facing a charge of obstructing a police officer. You know, OBSTRUCTION... the kind of charge reserved for violent offenders or carriers of weapons....

Anyway, imagine the rolling eyeballs on the lone RCMP officer who was dispatched at 11pm on a Sunday night to pull my file in Sumas, who then had to drive to the border to get me to sign a promise to appear (2 hours of his, sorry taxpayer, time), when I told him how and why this whole mess had occurred. 

This is the kind of stupidity that occurs when police officers overstep their bounds and do things they have no right to be doing. I know you will hate me saying this, but really it needs to be said; if only they would apply this kind of zeal and creativity in applying the law when they really need to.

They do not need to with laser jammers. Until the law does not make lawbreakers out of the majority of safe and reasonable drivers on BC highways, people will continue to engage in civil disobedience and do the best they can to protect themselves.

These days more and more, as you know, the police are showing up in court with strictly subjective or visual evidence and the courts are accepting it. So there should be no argument that jammers are obstructing. Besides, as the other writer above states, the jammers are turned off after 2 seconds. While I am about it, it needs to be asked why the government and RCMP are wasting all this money on LIDAR and RADAR if they can charge and convict without it? But I digress....

No police officer should have the right to misuse and abuse the criminal code in this way. It's using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. There are many downsides to this abuse, not the least of which was the high alert created for the border guards who suspected based on what they saw on their computer screen that I might be armed. It harms cross border commerce and it also harms the economy through needless expense to taxpayers and the victims of the abuse who pay lawyers to fight it. 

Best, Ian Tootill