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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1

    Default Colorado 52 in 40

    My question involves a speeding ticket from the State of Colorado.

    Received a ticket for going 52 in a 40. This was on a 6 lane total (3 in each direction) street with a center median on the edge of Denver outside of most of the residential developments. I'm unclear if the ticket was within Aurora City limits as this section of the street flip flops between incorporated Araphahoe County and Aurora, but the ticket was given by an Araphahoe County Sheriff Deputy.

    Colorado Revised Statutes say the following:
    CRS 42-4-1101(4) Any speed in excess of the lawful speeds set forth in CRS 42-4-1101(2) shall be prima facie evidence that such speed was not reasonable or prudent under the conditions then existing. "Prima facie evidence" means evidence which is sufficient proof that the speed was not reasonable or prudent under the conditions then existing, and which will remain sufficient proof of such fact, unless contradicted and overcome by evidence bearing upon the question of whether or not the speed was reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.

    42-4-1101 (2). Speed limits.
    (1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.
    (2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires a lower speed, the following speeds shall be lawful:
    (a) Twenty miles per hour on narrow, winding mountain highways or on blind curves;
    (b) Twenty-five miles per hour in any business district, as defined in section 42-1-102 (11);
    (c) Thirty miles per hour in any residence district, as defined in section 42-1-102 (80);
    (d) Forty miles per hour on open mountain highways;
    (e) Forty-five miles per hour for all vehicles in the business of transporting trash, where higher speeds are posted, when said vehicle is loaded as an exempted vehicle pursuant to section 42-4-507 (3);
    (f) Fifty-five miles per hour on other open highways which are not on the interstate system, as defined in section 43-2-101 (2), C.R.S., and are not surfaced, four-lane freeways or expressways;
    (g) Sixty-five miles per hour on surfaced, four-lane highways which are on the interstate system, as defined in section 43-2-101 (2), C.R.S., or are freeways or expressways;

    Just in case I also checked the Aurora municipal codes related to speed limits:
    Section 1101. Speed limits.
    (1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a street or highway within this municipality at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions existing, and in no event greater than 55 miles per hour or the posted limit, whichever is higher.
    (2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed, and except as otherwise provided herein, the following speeds shall be lawful:
    (A) Twenty-five miles per hour in any business district;
    (B) Twenty-five miles per hour in any residence district;
    (C) Twenty miles per hour on blind curves; or
    (D) Any speed not in excess of a posted speed limit designated by an official traffic-control device.
    (4) Unless otherwise declared by ordinance adopting this Code and so permitted by law, any speed in excess of said limits in subsection (2) of this section shall be prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable or prudent and that it is unlawful, except that any and all 55 mile per hour or higher speed limits shall be considered maximum lawful speed limits and not prima facie speed limits.

    From this I see that there is nothing that says 40MPH is the correct speed for this type of road as it is not an mountain highway, and therefore the limits should be prima facie. If I can establish that the speed was reasonable and less than the maximum speed of 55 MPH (for Aurora) and/or 75MPH (for Colorado) then the ticket should be dismissed.

    I contacted the Aurora Traffic Engineers. They said the speed limit was set at 40 MPH when the road was designed, and that "within Aurora all major roads are set to 40 MPH, unless they are state routes and set by CDOT instead of Aurora ". (Note that the state routes are all set at 45-55MPH, much more reasonable speeds for the types of roads). They have not done a speed study at any time for this section of the road. They did do a recent speed survey just beyond where I received my ticket and determined that in this section the speed limit would be raised to 45 MPH.

    For my case, do I need to subpoena the traffic engineer? Can I have her send an email and give it to the judge stating what she said? Any other advice on how to attack this speed limit being set to low? How can I find if a case has already been won on this defense within Aurora? Does it matter that I got my ticket from a sheriff deputy and therefore am going to county court instead of city?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: Colorado 52 in 40

    I agree with you that the 40 MPH speed limit you are accused of violating is NOT listed in that portion of CRS 42-4-1101(2) that you cited. However, you left off an important subparagraph:

    Quote Quoting CRS 42-4-1102(2)

    (h) Any speed not in excess of a speed limit designated by an official traffic control device.

    Since your speed WAS in excess of the "speed limit designated by an official traffic control device", you did, indeed, violate the law. Authority is given to counties and municipalities to alter the speed limits within their jurisdictions through CRS 42-4-1102 (2) and (3), which state:

    Quote Quoting CRS 42-4-1102

    (2) Whenever county or municipal authorities within their respective jurisdictions determine upon the basis of a traffic investigation or survey, or upon the basis of appropriate design standards and projected traffic volumes in the case of newly constructed highways or segments thereof, that any speed specified or established as authorized under sections 42-4-1101 to 42-4-1104 is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the road and traffic conditions at any intersection or other place or upon any part of a street or highway in its jurisdiction, said local authority shall determine and declare a reasonable and safe speed limit thereat which shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected at such intersection or other place or upon the approaches thereto. No such local authority shall have the power to alter the basic rules set forth in section 42-4-1101 (1) or in any event to authorize by resolution or ordinance a speed in excess of seventy-five miles per hour.

    (3) Local municipal authorities within their respective jurisdictions shall determine upon the basis of a traffic investigation or survey the proper speed for all arterial streets and shall declare a reasonable and safe speed limit thereon which may be greater or less than the speed specified under section 42-4-1101 (2) (b) or (2) (c). Such speed limit shall not exceed seventy-five miles per hour and shall become effective when appropriate signs are erected giving notice thereof. For purposes of this subsection (3), an "arterial street" means any United States or state-numbered route, controlled-access highway, or other major radial or circumferential street or highway designated by local authorities within their respective jurisdictions as part of a major arterial system of streets or highways.

    As noted in the bolded section above, municipalities CAN use "appropriate design standards and projected traffic volumes" when a road is built -- they are NOT required to do an engineering and traffic survey -- yet. Their argument will probably be that their "design standard" for ALL highways of that type is 40 MPH.

    Bottom line is that, as far as I can tell, there is NO problem with a 40 MPH speed limit on that section of road. I don't know what other evidence you could elicit from the traffic engineer. I doubt that the judge will accept an email (the prosecutor cannot cross-examine an email).

    Without learning more about Colorado law than I care to know, I can't say for sure how the court jurisdictions work. In WA, however, a ticket may be filed in the county or municipality where the infraction occurred. County Sheriffs usually file in the county's District court, while Municipal Police file in Municipal Court. Without looking it up, I'd guess it's the same in CO.

    Barry

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