There are three types of speed limits systems in the United States: absolute, presumed, and basic. In states that use a presumed speed limit, such as California and Texas, it is legal to drive over the posted speed limit as long as you are driving safely.
For instance, if you are driving 60 mph in a 55 mph zone, you are “presumed” to be speeding. If the circumstances are that everyone is going the same speed, and it would actually be dangerous to drive slower, you may be able to convince the judge that you were being safe in those conditions. This isn’t absolute, but it’s an often-used defense.
A presumed speed limit can also go the other way. If you were driving at the posted speed limit but the conditions caused even that speed to be dangerous, you could still be ticketed. The presumed speed limit system takes into account the conditions at the time you were driving, so it is important to be cognizant of your surroundings and conditions while operating a vehicle.
Are There Any Defenses?
If you have been charged with exceeding a presumed speed limit, you can counter by saying you did not exceed the posted speed limit or you can defend your speed by showing that you were driving safely, given the conditions. Higher rates of speed will be more difficult to show you were driving safely, than say, if you were going 5 mph over the posted limit.
What Should I Do If I Believe I Have Not Broken the Law?
If you feel you are not at fault for a presumed speed limit infraction, you should speak with an attorney. You should also return to where the infraction took place on a day with similar conditions, and take pictures. You will want to diagram the whole scene by showing where you were, where other cars were, and where the officer was located.
If there were any witnesses, then try to get their statements. Any evidence that you can gather to show you were driving safely will be beneficial.
Most importantly, show up to your traffic court hearing. It is important to appear at your hearing and present the evidence. There is a chance that the officer who gave you the ticket won’t appear, and if that’s the case then there is also a chance that the judge will throw out your ticket.
Either way, it’s important for you to collect evidence and be present at your hearing if you believe that you did not violate the speed limit.
Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Traffic Laws?
If you have been charged with a traffic law violation, an experienced criminal lawyer can advise you of your rights, help build your case, and determine your best course of action with the court.