I've read quite a bit about this, and the general consensus seems to be that LIDAR tickets aren't even worth contesting, but I beg to differ. Let me explain my unique situation.
I was recently stopped by Iowa State Patrol. I had just purchased the vehicle on that day, meaning I had no license plates. I've traveled this route for years and I knew the speed limit quickly changes to 65 from 70, and it's a speed trap I have seen several times.
I see a fleet of cars (3 in front on right lane, 2 in front on left lane I was traveling in) abruptly hit their brakes, to the point it was unsafe. Everyone is now going between 50-55 when they were between 65-70 just before that. A few seconds later I see State Patrol parked on the side of a busy interstate, and I realize this is why.
As my car is perpindicular to State Patrol (I'm traveling 52 at this point), he begins to follow me for about a minute. I see his flashing lights turn on and I was completely certain I was pulled over for not having a license plate. I politely articulated this to him when he asked if I knew why I was being pulled over. I instantly showed him the Title of the recently purchased vehicle and my Drivers License. The officer then proceeded to tell me I was stopped for driving 78 in a 65 when he clocked me (which I am unsure of the exact distance, but at least 100 yards, unless he thought I was going that speed when perpendicular to him) and made no mention of not having plates. I politely told him I was not going that speed and had been driving within the parameters of the speed limit. He did not believe me. I was given a ticket for $168 which I believe was the result of a mistake or an overzealous State Trooper. I reiterated to him I thought this was a mistake and made no mention of my plan to appear in court as I was on my way home.
When I got home, I decided to gather all the information I could about LIDAR. At the time I was stopped I did not know this, but LIDAR is generally aimed at the license plate. I did not have a license plate at the time. Also, and I can't find any concrete information on this, which is why I'm posting here, it is very common under a LIDAR citation for the distance from when they clocked you to be there. It was not included on my ticket.
I discovered that LIDAR's accuracy is weakened when there is no license plate present (it locks onto the most reflective surface of aimed target). The LIDAR beam proportionally widens with distance, meaning it may have locked onto the car with a license plate, either next to me, in front of me, or in back of me. There is no way it was my car. I've deserved some tickets in the past, but this time I do know for a fact, some sort of mistake was made.
My theory on what happened, he had clocked a different car, saw I had no plates which diverted his attention to my car - stopped me, and decided to give me the ticket, although it was not my car that was speeding. Also, factor in this happened late in the month and he may have wanted to make quota. Yes, I am questioning the ethics of some law enforcement. If that offends you, please do not reply.
I'm 27 but look younger than my age, he probably just thought I was another kid who wouldn't even bother with contesting the ticket.
My concrete points will be to bring up how LIDAR's accuracy is diminished when no license plate is present, and the fact he did not include the distance I was clocked on the citation. From everything I can find - it is not required but typically standard with LIDAR. A smart cop doesn't want to leave any room for anything to be contested in my opinion.
I plan to ask where LIDAR is most accurate. If he says something other than license plate to protect himself, it will look bad on his part. If he says license plate (which I'm expecting), I plan to point out how how there is greater probability a mistake was then made. I don't plan to include he made me a scapegoat, although that is what I really believe. I just plan to raise the most doubt I can and hope for the best.
First question: Can I write the court a letter contesting the citation, opposed to appearing in court? It will be me vs a prosecutor representing the trooper. I'm worried the prosecutor will try and tie me up in legal semantics knowing I don't know the law as well as he does. It doesn't seem right that they get state-provided representation and civilians do not (especially when it's harder for us), but that's a different story for a different day.
Second question: I plan to make a diagram showing exactly my positioning in relation to the other cars. Is this typically allowed?
Third question: If I lose, can I appeal?
I know this may seem fairly ridiculous, but I am in a difficult financial situation at the moment and I feel this ticket was either deliberately unjust or the result of a mistake.
If anyone has actual experience with LIDAR defense, please let me know what you think of the points I have made. Informed replies are much appreciated.