How much testimony of an officer is necessary for traffic stop in USA to prove beyond a reasonable doubt? How specific does the officer's observation have to be?

For a failure to maintain lamp traffic ticket, if the law requires three brake lights (left/center/right), does the officer have to specifically testify which light was out?

If the observation of the officer is only "I pulled the vehicle over for a lamp being out in the rear of the vehicle", is that beyond a reasonable doubt?

1 Answer 1


There is no hard and fast rule to determine what constitutes proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In the first instance, the judge (or jury, when there is a jury trial) decides this on a case by case basis.

If the officer testifies that the matters recorded in the ticket are true because it was the officer's practice to always record accurately what happened in a ticket, this would ordinarily not be grounds for reversal of a conviction on the ground of insufficient evidence, unless other evidence somehow put the officer's testimony in serious doubt (e.g. a social media post clearly putting the officer in another location at the time that the ticket was allegedly issued).

Normally, the only kind of evidence that would not result in a ticket being upheld on appeal would be the failure of the officer to testify at all.

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