By Greg Bartlett
We often talk about the amazing new ways that GPS tracking is aiding law enforcement. Officers all over the country have used GPS trackers to follow suspects, track drug shipments, and keep tabs on parolees. However, a recent case highlights the ability of GPS trackers to keep some over-zealous police in line.
Garath Powell was driving near Bristol, UK last November on a street marked with the limit of 50mph. A police officer staked out near road A4174 used his laser gun to clock the man at 61mph, a speed well worth pulling over. Powell took the ticket, but he was nearly certain that he had stayed below the limit. Thankfully, he had installed a GPS tracker on his vehicle, and that gave him an idea. He called the tracking company and asked if they could provide him some speed and location data at the point in time he was passing the officer. Navman Wireless, a GPS company that operates in the UK, gladly gave Powell the information he needed.
As it turns out, the GPS tracker logged him as going no more than 48mph in the 50mph zone. Somehow the officer had clocked him wrong. Powell took this information to the hearing, and a Navman technology official came along to serve as an expert witness. The Notice of Intended Prosecution was torn up, and the case was thrown out. Though Powell’s prosecution was only dismissed this past October, nearly a year after the initial ticket, his case will set a clear precedent for incorporating data from personal GPS trackers into a body of evidence for the defense.
Whether or not the officer’s assessment of Powell’s speed was an accident, this will likely encourage the use of GPS trackers in vehicles, if only to provide an extra bit of information during a dispute. The case certainly highlights the accuracy of these devices, even when compared to the standard laser gun, whose accuracy is subject to a variety of environmental factors.
Of course, the efficiency of GPS trackers can be less than helpful to speeding drivers. Parents in both the UK and the US have discovered the benefits of keeping tabs on their younger drivers’ speed. Instead of searching for peel marks on their driveway, Mom and Dad can now just place a worry-free GPS tracker under the dash. The accuracy and efficiency of GPS tracking can keep almost anyone in line.