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  1. #1
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    Default Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    My question involves a speeding ticket from the State of: Ohio (wow sorry for the huge essay, didn't realize it was so long till after I was done)

    The relevant state statutes:

    4511.21 Speed limits - assured clear distance.

    (A) No person shall operate a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar at a speed greater or less than is reasonable or proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the street or highway and any other conditions, and no person shall drive any motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar in and upon any street or highway at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.

    The speed limit I was breaking:


    (3) Thirty-five miles per hour on all state routes or through highways within municipal corporations outside business districts, except as provided in divisions

    The presumption of unreasonable speed:

    (C) It is prima-facie unlawful for any person to exceed any of the speed limitations in divisions (B)(1)(a), (2), (3), (4), (6), (7), and (8) of this section...

    My Situation and proposed defense:
    I was doing 47mph in a 35mph zone. The street is a 4-lane road, flat, and very wide in a primarily business area of town. There is a golf course on the right which does not have its entrance on the road, therefore there are no driveways on the side of the road I was traveling. On the left, there is one driveway to an office park, but I was cited at 6:30pm, after business hours. The ticket has listed: dry pavement, light traffic, clear visibility, no adverse weather.

    I am considering arguing that my speed was reasonable, even though it was in excess of the posted speed limit. My understanding of the law in Ohio is that the speed limit is the presumed safe speed, but if you can prove that you were traveling at a safe speed, then you haven't broken the law. I'm not even going to try and get into the lame "has your radar been calibrated" arguments. I know I was speeding, but I honestly think that my speed was reasonable. In 11+ years of driving, I've never even been pulled over for speeding, let alone gotten a ticket for it. My record is spotless.

    It's also my understanding that the posted speed limits are purely statutory, and no actual traffic engineering study is done to determine the speed unless the city requests one. The road in question has had no study done according to the traffic engineer's office.

    Evidence:
    I'm considering taking pictures of the area, and then using the ODOT Traffic Engineer's Manual's "Speed Zone Study" checklist (it's a manual for local municipalities to conduct studies to alter the statutory speed limit) to show that the road in question would rank highly in every area that I can personally observe. Beyond that, I'm not sure how else to prove that my speed was reasonable without actually having the city conduct a study to increase the speed on that road.

    Other considerations:
    I observed traffic court procedure today and, unfortunately, if you plead not guilty, you simply get a court date at the municipal court since the 'Mayor's court' can't hear your case. So it's two separate trips to the courtroom.

    My ticket would only be $96 if I just paid, however I'm concerned about my insurance rates going up. Mainly however, it's just a matter of not believing I did anything wrong.

    My question:
    Does this defense ever work? I've seen case law that says it has, but I would like to hear from people who see these kinds of cases on a frequent basis, or have some sort of street knowledge of how this argument normally goes in court.

    On a side note, I felt kinda embarrassed for the people who appeared in the mayor's court. Almost all of them pleaded no contest, and less than 5% actually had any sort of evidence with them, or legal defense. Almost all the speeders said "I didn't see the sign" or "I was going with the flow of traffic" or "I might have been speeding, but it wasn't no 40mph, maybe 35", etc... just zero concept of what is or is not a defense to speeding. 5 minutes on the internet would have given them a better defense.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Quote Quoting ryanjm
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    4511.21 Speed limits - assured clear distance.

    (A) No person shall operate a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar at a speed greater or less than is reasonable or proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the street or highway and any other conditions, and no person shall drive any motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar in and upon any street or highway at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.


    I live in Ohio also. You were doing 47 in a 35, case closed.

    You are confusing the elements of (A) here with a prima facie violation in (B).

    Example for A: The POSTED limit is 45. You are going 45, BUT the FOG is so dense you can't see 10 feet in front of you, the 45 is too fast then.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    I'm not sure where you got that information, but from wikipedia:

    "prima facie denotes evidence which unless rebutted would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact"

    ie, if you rebut the presumption of guilt by showing you are going a reasonable speed, you can win. Where does it say you have to be going slower than the posted speed in order for it to be considered reasonable? Like I stated earlier, I've already seen caselaw which specifically cites the fact that you can be going faster than the posted speed, and still be doing a reasonable speed.

    I've since gotten feedback from another source and plan on making this argument. I'll report back when my case goes to trial. I expect I'll make a plea deal for a parking ticket or something and this won't go to trial, but if it does, I'll let you guys know how it went for future reference for anyone that might consider doing the same.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Prima facie can be rebutted, as you can proffer any defense for a charge, but in A here, it is not a valid defense, as it is a seperate section from C, but you can argue it, sure.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Quote Quoting ryanjm
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    I'm not sure where you got that information, but from wikipedia:

    "prima facie denotes evidence which unless rebutted would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact"

    ie, if you rebut the presumption of guilt by showing you are going a reasonable speed, you can win. Where does it say you have to be going slower than the posted speed in order for it to be considered reasonable? Like I stated earlier, I've already seen caselaw which specifically cites the fact that you can be going faster than the posted speed, and still be doing a reasonable speed.

    I've since gotten feedback from another source and plan on making this argument. I'll report back when my case goes to trial. I expect I'll make a plea deal for a parking ticket or something and this won't go to trial, but if it does, I'll let you guys know how it went for future reference for anyone that might consider doing the same.

    You don't appear to be interpretting the law correctly. The law states, "It is prima facie unlawful...." Therefore, the "presumption" is that "it is unlawful" to exceed certain speed limits. That is the presumption you must rebut. Not your guilt, not that your speed was "reasonable", but you must show that driving in excess of 35 on those particular roads is "lawful", notwithstanding the law that says that it is "unlawful".

    I'm not sure how you can PROVE (and a presumption usually requires "clear and convincing" evidence) that driving in excess of 35 was "lawful". The law CLEARLY states that it is not. So, how are you going to prove that it is? "Reasonable" has NOTHING to do with paragraph (C).

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Google "presumed speed limit states" and it will explain it for you guys. Here is a link if you'd like a quick explanation of how the law works in presumed speed limit states:
    http://criminal.lawyers.com/traffic-...ed-Limits.html

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Quote Quoting ryanjm
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    Google "presumed speed limit states" and it will explain it for you guys. Here is a link if you'd like a quick explanation of how the law works in presumed speed limit states:
    http://criminal.lawyers.com/traffic-...ed-Limits.html

    why are you asking if you know all about it? You got advice from a couple of the most informed and accurate guys on the forum and you want to argue with them.

    Go ahead and argue whatever you want in court but simply put, you are incorrect in your argument.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Quote Quoting jk
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    why are you asking if you know all about it? You got advice from a couple of the most informed and accurate guys on the forum and you want to argue with them.

    Thanks, jk, I live in Ohio, so I am quite confident I am correct, as I said, A has different elements from C.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    Classic case of "you didn't tell me what I wanted so you must not be an expert".

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ohio Speeding Ticket - Reasonable Speed As a Defense

    I'm sorry if my replies came off as dismissive. I talked to two friends who are lawyers and know of people who have successfully raised this defense. Also, I researched caselaw and found what I believe to be fairly clear statements that my argument and interpretation of the law is sound. That is why I did not believe the advice given here to be accurate, and I didn't see the value of arguing statutory interpretation when other, more definitive sources (caselaw) have clearly stated the contrary. Here is one of the cases I'm talking about:

    http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/do...9-Ohio-244.pdf

    If you read this case (it's only 8 pages), starting at page 5, I think it explains the law well. A key excerpt from that case which cites another case, Cleveland v. Keah, 157 Ohio St. 331 (1952), [where the Defendant raised my argument and won]:

    "Where a municipal ordinance makes it prima facie unlawful
    for a motor vehicle to exceed a certain speed limit in a
    described locality, a speed greater than that specified does
    not establish the commission of an offense or constitute
    unlawful conduct per se, but establishes only a prima facie
    case under the ordinance. Such a provision as to speed is
    merely a rule of evidence raising a rebuttable presumption
    which may be overcome by evidence showing that in the
    circumstances the speed was neither excessive nor
    unreasonable.
    " (emphasis added)

    If you still think I'm wrong after reading this case, let me know. My initial appearance is still a week away, so I could still be convinced to just pay the ticket if I'm wrong. Sorry again for my earlier tone.

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