More traffic tickets are given for speeding than for any other traffic infraction violation. There are two ways a driver can be cited for speeding: 1) by violating the "basic speed law" under Vehicle Code Section 22350; and 2) by exceeding a maximum speed limit (Vehicle Code Sections 22348, 22349, 22356). Conviction of any of these sections will result in one point being assessed to your driving record and, if you have accumulated too many points, suspension of your driver's license. CONTACT our office today if you received a speeding ticket in Los Angeles.
BASIC SPEED LAW
California law says that a driver shall not drive "a vehicle upon a highway at a speed that is greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility...and in no event at a speed that endangers the safety of persons or property." The law presumes that the posted speed limit is the "reasonable or prudent" speed. The "basic speed law" is usually the statute that is enforced on city streets.
Defenses to Violating the Basic Speed Law
The posted speed limit serves only as a "presumption" that a speed in excess of the designated limit is unsafe. The posted speed limit is not absolute. Even if you were cited for going over the posted speed limit, you can defeat the presumption that you violated the basic speed law. You or your traffic ticket attorney can make the argument to the traffic court judge that your speed was still reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. For example, if an officer cites you for going 45 mph in a posted 35 mph zone, you may argue that your speed was safe because all of the cars in your lane were also traveling at 45 mph, and it would be unsafe if you were driving slower than them. As another example, you could argue that your speed only exceeded the posted speed limit because you were trying to get around a driver that was driving recklessly.
If the officer used a radar or laser device to determine your speed, or if he made a "visual estimate" of your speed, there must be a valid engineering and traffic survey to justify the posted speed limit. To determine the appropriate speed limit, the city, county, or other state agency examines the road and traffic conditions, including prevailing speeds (e.g., the speeds at which motorists currently travel), accident records, potential hazards, and visibility, and determines what the appropriate speed limit should be. One important factor in setting the limit is that it must be at or within 5 mph below the speed at which 85% of the motorists travel. The use of radar or laser devices on streets with an unjustifiably low speed limit is considered an illegal "speed trap." If the speed limit is not set in accordance with this requirement, e.g. it is too high, then it is illegal. If the traffic survey is over 7 years old, the posted speed limit is illegal. In both of these situations, a good traffic ticket attorney will obtain a dismissal or not guilty verdict in your case. There are exceptions to these requirements. School zones and streets with 15 mph speed limits are not required to have a valid survey to justify the speed limit.
MAXIMUM SPEED LIMIT
Unfortunately, the speed trap rules do not apply for violations of maximum speed limits. The officer only needs to prove that you were going faster than the posted speed limit. These tickets are typically issued by the California Highway Patrol on freeways. Officers usually use a radar or laser (lidar) device to capture a motorist's speed. These devices must be certified for use by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and be calibrated independently every 3 years. The officer must be certified to use the radar or laser device. Officers also use "pacing" to capture a driver's speed. Pacing occurs when an officer follows behind a vehicle and maintains the same following distance for a period of time. For example, the officer may follow behind a vehicle maintaining a distance of 200 feet. The officer's vehicle speedometer reflects that the officer is traveling at a speed of 90 mph and maintains the 200 feet distance for a period of 5 seconds. The officer will reach the conclusion that the driver was also traveling at 90 mph and will issue the driver a ticket for violating the maximum speed limit. In order to issue a speeding ticket based on pacing, the speedometer in the officer's vehicle must be calibrated to ensure that it is working accurately.
CONTACT A LOS ANGELES TRAFFIC TICKET ATTORNEY
If you have received a speeding ticket, CONTACT our office today for free consultation. Berglund Law Office, P.C. has handled hundreds of traffic ticket infractions, obtaining favorable results for many of our clients.