Many people who have received a speeding ticket have no real knowledge of speeding laws or what options that have for contesting a speeding violation. There are different types of speed limit laws that exist throughout the United States. Because of this it is important that you understand how to defend yourself against the different types of speed laws that have been established.
Of you have received a speeding ticket, how you go about defending yourself will depend on the type of speed limit you allegedly broke. All 50 states have three types of speed limit laws: “absolute” limits, “presumed” limits, and “basic” limits. Each of these speed limit violations require different defenses, therefore it is important that you understand what type of violation you have been charged with in order to formulate an appropriate and affective defense.
“Absolute” Speed Limit Violations
The majority of the 50 states have an “absolute” speed limit law. Accordingly, if a speed limit sign reads 40 mph and you are clocked going over 40 mph, then you have essentially violated the law. Even if you are only going 41 mph, you are still technically violating the 40 mph speed limit. There are a few defenses available for those who violate the “absolute” speed limit law.
One way to defend yourself is by disputing the police officer’s method of determining your speed. Officers usually use a laser, radar or pacer. After discovering which method the officer used, you should then discredit the source as unreliable. Another way to defend yourself against an “absolute” speed limit is by claiming that you had an emergency that forced you to go beyond the posted speed limit. By making a legitimate claim that you increased your speed in order to avoid serious damage, you may be able to avoid getting a speeding ticket.
Another way of defending yourself against an “absolute” speeding violation is by claiming that your car was mistaken for another car. Because there are so many cars that look alike, it is possible that this scenario could actually happen. An officer could spot a speeding car at one moment and then mistakenly identify your car further down the road.
“Presumed” Speed Limit Violations
A “presumed” speeding violation means that you have been accused of driving at an unsafe speed. Your speed may be considered unsafe due to the environment that you are driving in. If you are accused of violating a “presumed” speed limit, there are two defenses that you can try. First, you can claim that you were not going in excess of the posted speed limit. Second, you can claim that even if you were going beyond the posted speed limit, you were driving safely. You can elaborate with this second defense by claiming that you were driving safely given the road conditions, weather, and traffic at the time you were caught speeding.
There is a good chance that you can defeat a speeding violation if you can prove that you were only slightly speeding and the road conditions, traffic and weather were good. If you are driving at a reasonable speed and there are no other dangerous factors, then you will have a higher probability of defeating a speeding violation.
If you are faced with a “presumed” speeding violation, you will have to prove that your speed was prudent and safe. Speed limit laws are designed with the presumption that the posted speed limit is the fastest and safest speed for that area. It is your responsibility to prove that you were still driving safe while going over the posted speed limit. Keep in mind, however, that going too far over the posted speed limit is not safe. For example, it will be difficult to prove that going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone was safe under any condition.
If you would like to dispute a speeding violation, the following is a list of tips that you can employ to help your case:
Return to the scene of the speeding violation and take pictures around the same time of day and on the same day of the week you were cited for violating the posted speed limit. Make sure that you take pictures from the driver’s viewpoint. If the road is straight, make sure that you take enough pictures to indicate how straight the road is and how clear the visibility is on the straight road.
Create a diagram of the road you were speeding on. Pinpoint the location of your vehicle, the officer’s vehicle, and any other vehicles that were in the surrounding area. Taking enough pictures of the surrounding are is important and will help the decision maker determine how busy the road was when you were speeding. While heavy traffic could hurt your case, sometimes heavy traffic can work to your advantage. If there were a lot of other cars on the road at the time of your violation, you may be able to make the argument that “everyone was speeding” and that you could have endangered yourself or others by driving slower than the other vehicles.
It is important to remember that “presumed” speed limit laws have multiple facets. It might be presumed safe to drive above the speed limit when a road is straight, not crowded, and the weather is fine. However, when the roads are wet, there is fog, or there are other obstacles that could impair your driving, it is not safe to drive above the posted speed limit. Additionally, a police officer has the right to ticket you for driving both below, at, and above the posted speed limit when there are both none or other factors involved.
The “Basic” Speeding Law for All Drivers
States that implement the “absolute” speeding laws have an upper speeding limit. This means that if you are driving at a speed above the upper limit, then your driving speed is illegal. Even if you are only driving one mile over the speed limit, you will be considered to be a law breaker. States also give police officers the right to ticket you if you are driving under the posted speed limit. Driving under the limit can pose an unsafe threat to other drivers.
States also implement a “driving too fast for conditions” speed limit which means that anyone driving above the speed limit in certain traffic conditions may receive a ticket. Traffic conditions include road conditions, weather, and any other issues that could impair your driving.
The difference between fighting a below the speed violation and an above the speed limit violation is that the prosecution has the burden of proving that your low speed was unsafe. The prosecution must prove that you were driving unsafely. They will assert that the posted speed limit is the safest speed at which you should have been driving. An officer will likely testifying stating that even the road conditions, weather conditions, traffic patterns, and your driving below the speed limit posed a threat to other drivers. This can be a hard burden to prove, especially if your driving did not cause an accident.
Police officers mostly rely on the “basic” speeding laws after an accident has occurred. Police offices will likely reason that the reason that you were involved in an accident is because of your speed. They will likely use this line of reasoning even if you were driving below the posted speed limit. However, please keep in mind that although an officer may make this claim, the fact that you were involved in an accident is not enough to prove that speed caused the accident. The fact that you were involved in an accident also does not mean that you were driving unsafe at the time. Accidents are not always caused by your violating the law. Sometimes other drivers just do something unreasonable.
If a police officer claims that you were the cause of a car accident due to your speed, even if you were not speeding, you must be ready to make a defense against the accusing officer. Your defense should include reasoning and proof that the car accident could have occurred due to numerous reasons. The following is a list of other reasons that you could use in your defense:
- The other driver caused the car accident
- An act of nature (strong wind, falling tree limbs, etc.) caused the car accident
- A hazard in the road caused the car accident
- A defect on the road caused the accident (missing or improperly functioning signs and/or signals)
If you have receive a speeding violation and are interested in your options for defeating the ticket, please contact our office for additional information. Contact our traffic defense lawyers who will be more than happy to speak with you in an effort to figure out your best options.