Police say he was doing 64.5 in a 50-mph zone. He says his GPS shows him going 57.
A western Pennsylvania man is trying to use data from his GPS to prove he wasn't speeding.
David Riesmeyer's strategy - to use his vehicle's Global Position System to show that the police officer's measurement of his speed was off by several miles per hour - is probably the first of its kind in the state, according to court officials.
But Riesmeyer could face an uphill battle. Pennsylvania officials have been watching a similar court case in California that ended last week in favor of police.
A Sonoma County, Calif., court commissioner ruled that Shawn Malone had to pay a $190 speeding ticket, ending a two-year court battle over whether his GPS could be used to throw out the ticket, according to The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif.
According to court records in the Pennsylvania case, Rochester police Officer Jeff Lizzi stopped Riesmeyer, 46, of New Brighton, Beaver County, around 6:50 a.m. June 15 on Route 65 in East Rochester.
Lizzi, according to court records, was using a stopwatch and lines painted on the road to measure Riesmeyer's speed, which he wrote was 64.5 miles an hour in a 50-mph zone.
Riesmeyer appealed the ticket and used his GPS data as part of his defense.
District Judge Ed Howe found him guilty during a trial on Sept. 16, ruling that the only devices certified to measure speed in Pennsylvania are radar, Vascar, Accutrack, NRAD and speedometers. With fines and court costs, the ticket cost Riesmeyer $137.50.
On Oct. 16, Riesmeyer filed an appeal in the Beaver County Court, using the same documentation that he presented to Howe in his original defense.
Riesmeyer claims that the GPS in his company vehicle, belonging to Climatech in Robinson Township, showed that at 6:49 a.m. he was traveling 57 mph on Route 65, where motorists traveling on the Beaver-Rochester Bridge merge onto the southbound lanes of Route 65.
A heating and cooling technician, Riesmeyer said that his commercial GPS takes a snapshot of his speed and location every three seconds, so he's confident that the data showing the 57 mph is the exact speed he was traveling when Lizzi measured his speed.
According to the state vehicle code, if the speed limit is less than 55 mph, a person has to be traveling more than 10 miles over the speed limit to be convicted if an officer is using a speed measuring device other than radar.
"I think what's being done in Rochester is a matter of generating money and not one of safety enforcement," Riesmeyer said.
He said that before his hearing before Howe began, Lizzi offered what amounted to a plea agreement, saying he could plead guilty to driving 5 mph over the speed limit, with no points on his driver's license.
"If he was so confident in what he calculated, why would he do that?" Riesmeyer said.
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said Riesmeyer would have to prove in court, using experts, the accuracy of the GPS.
State police Sgt. Douglas Bartoe said accident investigators sometimes use GPS devices to estimate a driver's speed over a general area but not in a specific spot, such as a 200-foot stretch of roadway.
"Calibration (and other information from the GPS) is going to be in question," Bartoe said, "whether the information from the satellite is exact."
Berosh noted that police can't use GPS data against someone in court. Riesmeyer's appeal has not been scheduled yet.