'Posted' and 'Clocked' 45mph in a 70 on I-93 s/b in Massachusetts

1. Junior Member
Join Date
Jul 2007
Posts
2

'Posted' and 'Clocked' 45mph in a 70 on I-93 s/b in Massachusetts

I recently recieved a citation on the way home from work for traveling 70mph in a 45mph zone. The alleged 45mph zone is about a 1 mile stretch after exiting a tunnel (there are LED signs inside the tunnel that say : TUNNEL SPEED LIMIT 45MPH).

Upon exiting the tunnel, like all of the motorists around me, I accelerated to 65mph. I maneuvered my vehicle to the far left lane and the speedometer on my dash never went above 65mph.

I believe the 'violation' is invalid for a several reasons.

One, the officer checked that the limit was posted, which it was not. I passed signs that said "TUNNEL SPEED LIMIT 45MPH", and "35 MPH Curve". I am going to return to the scene today and take either video or photo of the roadside.

Two, the officer pulled me over at exit 18, which is about 1-1.5miles outside of the 45mph tunnel. When I was pulled over, the officer told me that this was a 45mph zone. Can signs that clearly state "TUNNEL SPEED LIMIT 45MPH" apply to zones outside of the tunnel?

The officer 'clocked' my speed... Being a child of science I wonder what method he used to clock my speed. Normally you would use the formula D=R/T. I find that if I was indeed traveling 70mph (which I was not), it would be nearly impossible to make such a calculation in your head in under 55 seconds, while keeping pace with a car traveling 70mph while avoiding any traffic during the busy hour of 11pm (when second shift gets out all over Boston)

I am going to ask the officer the exact method he used to clock my speed (hoping that he'll forget or state something different then what is on the citation- if he does not have access to a copy of it prior to my hearing).

Does 'clocked' mean he used a stopwatch and two points of reference (distance known) to calculate my speed?

Do you think that if I can't prove that I was not traveling 70mph (either by proving the officer used inaccurate methods by showing standard deviations of some sort, or by proving that the officer doesn't fully understand the D=R/T concept), that I will be able to have the amount of points and/or fine reduced by proving that the speed limit was not posted?

I know that in the MGL, Chapter 90, Section 18 it states:

Section 18. The city council, the transportation commission of the city of Boston, the board of selectmen, park commissioners, a traffic commission or traffic director, or the department, on ways within their control, may make special regulations as to the speed of motor vehicles and may prohibit the use of such vehicles altogether on such ways; provided, however, that except in the case of a speed regulation no such special regulation shall be effective unless it shall have been published in one or more newspapers, if there be any, published in the town in which the way is situated, otherwise in one or more newspapers published in the county in which the town is situated; nor until after the department, and in the case of a speed regulation the department and the registrar, acting jointly, shall have certified in writing that such regulation is consistent with the public interests; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed as affecting the right of the metropolitan district commission or of the department of environmental management to make rules and regulations governing the use and operation of motor vehicles on lands, roadways and parkways under its care and control.

No such regulation shall be effective until there shall have been erected, upon the ways affected thereby and at such points as the department and the registrar, acting jointly, may designate, signs, conforming to standards adopted by the department, setting forth the speed or other restrictions established by the regulation, and then only during the time such signs are in place. Any sign, purporting to establish a speed limit, which has not been erected in accordance with the foregoing provisions may be removed by or under the direction of the department.
Three points here:

One- this 45mph zone is on a 4-lane interstate highway. I believe this is a 'special regulation', since the standard speed limit on most interstates (and indeed for the majority of i93) is 65mph.

Two- if I can find that no such special regulation was posted in a newspaper, I can prove that the 'special regulation' is invalid.

Three- No signs outside of the tunnel were posted
Do I have a case?

2. Senior Member
Join Date
Oct 2005
Location
California
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Re: 'posted' and 'clocked' 45mph in a 70 on i93 s/b MA

Where, before you were stopped, was the last speed sign (other than the one specifying the 45MPH speed limit for the tunnel)? Was it for 65MPH?

If so, I think all you need to do is point that out (with proof of sign locations) and then address the fact that you were accused of exceeding the speed limit by 5 MPH.

You sound very knowledgeable about calculating that sort of thing...that's very good in traffic court. As a civilian, you're always at a terrific disadvantage in traffic court but being smart, being thoughtful and doing your homework can definitely increase your chances of being found 'not guilty'.

The cop's got loads of experience in traffic court but if you're smarter than he is (and you probably are), it will serve you well. Also, you will give this matter much more thought than he will; it won't affect his life, one way or another and he won't give you or your situation a moment's thought after he walks out of there. I made a cop look downright stupid in court once (I won) and I found myself feeling sorry for him and apologizing to him in the hallway....pure folly; he certainly wouldn't have felt bad had he been smarter than me.

My advice would be to plan your strategy, find where those signs are located (exactly), write down your cross exam questions, anticipate answers, be polite, firm...and reasonably aggressive. Good luck and let us know how you come out.

3. Senior Member
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Dec 2004
Location
Seattle
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3,577

Re: 'posted' and 'clocked' 45mph in a 70 on i93 s/b MA

You need to be careful though. Where I come from "clocked" is just a slang term for "measured". The officer could have clocked/measured your speed using a stop watch as your vehicle passed between two known points, he/she might have clocked/measured your speed with a radar or lidar device, or he/she might have clocked/measured your speed by "pacing" your vehicle over some distance.

Personally, I wouldn't get too hung up on the term "clocked". That may come back to bite you.

Also, is there a "speed zone ahead" sign as you approach the tunnel? If so, the zone starts at the next speed sign -- in this case 45. It ends at the next speed limit sign that's not 45. In most states, speed limits take effect at the sign. So -- the same speed applies until the next sign that changes it.

I'm not saying you're wrong, just playing devil's advocate. You need to have answers to my questions if you're going to court.

Good luck,
Barry

4. Member
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Mar 2007
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Horse Capital of the World, FL
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Re: 'posted' and 'clocked' 45mph in a 70 on i93 s/b MA

Isn't exit 18 within the city limits? If so, the 45mph may be correct. Parts of RT1are 45mph and other parts are higher (depending on if it cuts through the city limits). Also, I think that if you did not see a new speed limit sign (specifically stating the speed limit to be 65mph) once you exited the tunnel, the speed limit is whatever the last sign stated. I got 'clocked' on the MA TPK supposedly going 80mph (there was NO way I was going that fast). I was speeding, but not that fast. I fought the ticket and got it reduced but not dismissed. Good luck.

5. Junior Member
Join Date
Jul 2007
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Re: 'Posted' and 'Clocked' 45mph in a 70 on i93 s/b in Massachusetts

I went back yesterday and confirmed that there were no posted speed limits. The next sign from where I was pulled over was approximately 2.5 miles down the expressway and was a sign for 55mph.

I think I'm going to fight the law and win

6. Senior Member
Join Date
Nov 2006
Posts
101

Re: 'Posted' and 'Clocked' 45mph in a 70 on I-93 s/b in Massachusetts

Just something else to point out. You said they were LED signs? Most states require that the speed limit signs be signs with certain dimensions (determined by the speed limit being posted) and in most cases be white and black (regulatory signs). If not, the speed limit is not posted correctly.

It's the same reason those yellow and black curve speed limit signs are not enforceable since they are cautionary and not regulatory.

Good luck though, I think you have a good chance at getting off.

1.