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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    10

    Default A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: WA

    I have a construction zone near my work for the past couple of months, and they have temporarily lowered the speed limit from 35 to 25 while this work is happening. Today I approached the zone going 38 (in the 35), and upon seeing the posted 25 limit sign, I began to slow.

    An officer stepped from behind an SUV ~75-100 yards from the sign and flagged me to the shoulder holding a handheld radar unit.

    He said I was going 38 in a 25 and a construction zone. I was polite, offered license, insurance, registration etc. He returned to my car and gave me a citation saying that he "removed the construction zone violation" thereby reducing my ticket by half.

    I went back and took pictures, and while taking pictures, the cops (there were three plus a supervisor) pulled over 5 other motorists in the same fashion in about a 5 minute window. As I was returning to my office, the supervisor approached me and asked why I was taking pictures and that I shouldnt bother to complain as he was the person I would end up speaking with anyway. I told him they were to contest the ticket in court and he said that was OK.

    My question is what is my defense here? I began braking as soon as I saw the sign, and was easily under 25 by the time I was close to the officer (there was a stop light immediately behind him and the lone had grown to about 2 car lengths passed where he pulled me over). The only way I can guess he read the 38 was before I was in the temporary zone. If that is the case, am I still going to get the ticket for going 3 over? Is the whole setup suspect? It certainly feels that way...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,816

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    Were you going 25MPH or less when you reached the 25MPH sign?

    In Washington, traffic tickets are tried using the officer's statement and citation only unless they are subpoenaed. So you would want to request discovery (see the sticky regarding WA citations at the top of the moving violations forum on this site) , redact it and post it for the WA folks to take a look at to see what you have to work with.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,994

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    Quote Quoting dgar
    View Post
    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: WA

    I have a construction zone near my work for the past couple of months, and they have temporarily lowered the speed limit from 35 to 25 while this work is happening. Today I approached the zone going 38 (in the 35), and upon seeing the posted 25 limit sign, I began to slow.

    An officer stepped from behind an SUV ~75-100 yards from the sign and flagged me to the shoulder holding a handheld radar unit.

    He said I was going 38 in a 25 and a construction zone. I was polite, offered license, insurance, registration etc. He returned to my car and gave me a citation saying that he "removed the construction zone violation" thereby reducing my ticket by half.

    I went back and took pictures, and while taking pictures, the cops (there were three plus a supervisor) pulled over 5 other motorists in the same fashion in about a 5 minute window. As I was returning to my office, the supervisor approached me and asked why I was taking pictures and that I shouldnt bother to complain as he was the person I would end up speaking with anyway. I told him they were to contest the ticket in court and he said that was OK.

    My question is what is my defense here? I began braking as soon as I saw the sign, and was easily under 25 by the time I was close to the officer (there was a stop light immediately behind him and the lone had grown to about 2 car lengths passed where he pulled me over). The only way I can guess he read the 38 was before I was in the temporary zone. If that is the case, am I still going to get the ticket for going 3 over? Is the whole setup suspect? It certainly feels that way...
    What did he actually ticket you for? Did he ticket you for going 38 in a 35 or did he ticket you for going 38 in a 25? You said her removed the construction zone violation. If it was the former, you admitted that you were going 38 in a 35. If the latter, and you slowed down as soon as you saw the sign, then you may have a defense.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    It was the latter - 38 in a 25. there is no mention of the construction zone.

    Not sure - likely no, but I know I was braking as soon as I saw it (maybe 20-30 yds from the sign?)

    Thanks for the advice - will check those out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,714

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    A speed zone starts where the speed limit sign is posted. If they read your speed approaching the sign, it is not a valid ticket. You must first pass the limit sign before clocking you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    Any signs warning of reduced speed zone ahead? If so, how far ahead of the actual 25 mph sign?


    while you only noticed the sign when you were 20-30 yards from it, how far away could it actually be seen? You noticing it only when you did isnt much of an argument if it could be seen before that point. If you couldn’t see it from farther away, what prevented you from being able to see it?


    even if,want to argue it was a 35 zone, you were still speeding. Unless Washington allows a tolerance to be ticketed, speeding is,speeding. IF,you want to argue 38 in a 35 you will have to make a valid argument the cop couldn’t have clocked you in the reduced zone and then you will have to attack issues such as accuracy of,the SMD or some other technical argument.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    10

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    Any signs warning of reduced speed zone ahead? If so, how far ahead of the actual 25 mph sign?


    while you only noticed the sign when you were 20-30 yards from it, how far away could it actually be seen? You noticing it only when you did isnt much of an argument if it could be seen before that point. If you couldnít see it from farther away, what prevented you from being able to see it?


    even if,want to argue it was a 35 zone, you were still speeding. Unless Washington allows a tolerance to be ticketed, speeding is,speeding. IF,you want to argue 38 in a 35 you will have to make a valid argument the cop couldnít have clocked you in the reduced zone and then you will have to attack issues such as accuracy of,the SMD or some other technical argument.
    No signs that say reduced speed ahead.

    it could be seen slightly further than where i saw it, so I guess i don't really have an excuse...

    Its a bummer as it feels like a ticket for 3 over is a pretty nit-picky, targeted charge. I would say realistically over 95% of people speed by less than 5 over - not saying that is an excuse, just saying it feels pretty trivial. If that was all it was (take out the construction zone and temporary speed limit change), I would likely just pay the fine - but this certainly feels like they are looking to pad the city revenues by capitalizing on the habit people have of traveling on this 35 mph road, then being excessively strict in enforcement of the temporary reduction.

    In any case, thanks for your response!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    I totally agree that 3 over is very picky. That is why most cops in my area won’t ticket until close to 10 over.
    That doesn’t change the fact 1 over is speeding and makes for a valid ticket in most jurisdictions (I seem to recall there is a state that has a 5 mph tolerance but can recall which one).


    there are a couple guys that are pretty good with Washington speeding tickets. I haven’t seen them around lately but I would hang out a bit and hope they show up. They may have something to help.


    But you won’t get any sympathy from me or a judge arguing the zealous enforcement of the speed limit. The limit is what it is. If I get caught speeding and it’s valid, well, it isn’t the cops fault that I was speeding. He was simply doing his job.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,734

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    The limit is what it is. If I get caught speeding and it’s valid, well, it isn’t the cops fault that I was speeding. He was simply doing his job.
    I agree with that as long as the cops are applying the close enforcement of the speed law uniformly. But if they are basing whom to nail for just a couple mph over the speed limit on something like race, sex, age, how expensive the vehicle is, or whatever, then I would have a problem with that.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: A Defense for Speed Trap in a Temporary Speed Limit

    I strongly suggest you follow free9manís advice and seek discovery and post redacted versions for review. Generally, in WA unless you subpoena him the officer will not be in court to provide more details and clarify possible issues with the statement, so do not subpoena him. Yes 3 over is tacky but you were cited for 13 over. With a 10 mph drop in the limit no warning signs are needed if it can be seen far enough in advance. You admit you did not notice the sign until 3-5 car lengths from it so I doubt that with reaction time you actually slowed from 38 to 25 in that distance. Good luck with your fight.

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