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Want to contest a speeding in school zone citation

Discussion in 'Speeding Tickets, Traffic & Moving Violations' started by General88X, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. General88X

    General88X Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I received a citation for speeding in a school zone by a motorcycle cop. I live in Texas. The citation reads 36mph on a 20mph (school zone). When the school zone lights are not on, the speed limit is normally 35mph on that road. I wish to contest this citation because I have reason to believe that the school zone was NOT considered active at the time I was given the citation. I do not recall the automated flashing school zone sign being on at the time I received the citation, thus indicated that the road was not a 20mph, but a 35mph zone. I have returned to the scene on two occasions at approximately the same time I received the citation and the school zone sign was NOT flashing. Apart from that, I spoke to both a city police officer and a school district police officer that both said the 20mph speed limit only applies when the school zone sign is flashing. Do I have a valid defense if I choose to plead not guilty? What hard evidence can I take to court to prove that the school zone was not active at that specific time? Would a simple picture or video of the non-flashing school zone sign be adequate? As of now I only have the word of mouth of two police officers, additionally, I did not record their names or badge numbers. Would that be necessary if I were to mention having spoken to law enforcement officers to confirm my assumption that school zones are only active when the signs are on? I have been driving for two years and this is my first ever citation. Is it even worth it to plead not guilty if I have valid evidence? Can my ticket be dismissed? I am just a broke college student who does not want to be slapped with a double citation and pay upwards of $500 when I believe that I did not break the law.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Straight from the bowels of TXDOT:

    Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones: School Speed Zones

    Hint: A sign's lights can malfunction.
    The printed words on the sign are still readable.

    The sign reads something like this:

    School Zone reduce speed to 20MPH between 7:30AM to 8:15AM

    Return to the scene of the alleged infraction, take a picture of the sign.

    Forget about the flashing lights, note the posted admonition.

    If there's a GOTCHA for you, you'll find it among these words.

    Signs
    Where TxDOT is responsible for signing school speed zones, the zones shall be signed with a combination of the S4-3 SCHOOL and the R2-1 SPEED LIMIT sign assembly. Flashing beacons shall also be used with the S4-4 WHEN FLASHING sign to identify the periods the school speed limit is in force. One sign, S5-1, could be used, which is a combination of these. The S5-1 SCHOOL SPEED LIMIT XX WHEN FLASHING may be used in place of the S4-3, R2-1, and S4-4. A Transportation Commission minute order, city ordinance, or county ordinance authorizing the reduced speed limit is required prior to use of these signs in school zones.

    Cities should be allowed to sign school speed zones in accordance with the other options set out in the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices ( TMUTCD).

    The S4-3, R2-1 and S4-4 sign assembly with flashers shall be mounted on a permanent type mounting and placed at each zone limit of the section of highway, road, or street through which the speed limit has been reduced. The sign assembly with flashing beacons may be placed off the shoulder of the road, in the median, or overhead to face traffic entering the school speed zone. An illustration of signing for school speed zones is shown in the TMUTCD. Other types of signs used by cities should be similarly located in conformance with the TMUTCD.


    Note this sentence extracted from above.

    Ask to see the "order".
    Most locales forget to create one.
    Creating one requires more than just typing one.


    A Transportation Commission minute order, city ordinance, or county ordinance authorizing the reduced speed limit is required prior to use of these signs in school zones.
     
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You could seek the "deferred disposition" route.
    Ask the court clerk if your citation qualifies.
     
  4. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    I agree the time is important. What is the time on the citation? If outside the time frame on the sign you should be fine. You can likely obtain dispatch records to confirm the actual time of the stop if the time on the citation is very close to the posted times.
    Depending where you live you might find the ordinance online, otherwise visit your city/county offices and ask.
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You'd have to prove that the reduced speed limit was not in effect at the time you got the ticket. That it wasn't in effect at approximately the same time on subsequent days is circumstantial, but not conclusive, evidence of that.

    We have no way of knowing what evidence might exist, but one might reasonable assume that either (1) the activation of the flashing lights is automated such that you could obtain evidence of that, or (2) the activation of the lights is done manually and there may be written records of that.

    What they told you is (1) inadmissible hearsay, and (2) a matter of law about which their testimony is inadmissible. The court knows or should know under what circumstances the reduced speed limit is in effect, and you can look up the applicable statute yourself and cite it to the court.

    You admitted in your post that you were speeding regardless of whether the lights were flashing, so this is all a matter of reducing the charge from speeding in a school zone to ordinary speeding. I don't know what the difference is in terms of the fine, but you might look into whether you can take care of this with traffic school.
     
  6. General88X

    General88X Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the reply! In regards to going 36 on a 35 zone. I thought that Texas was a "presumed" speeding state. The speed limit can increase or decrease depending on the road conditions. The citation states that it was a clear sunny day with clear roads. I assumed that would be overlooked given that 1mph is within a reasonable speed of the speed limit.
     
  7. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    You don't even know if the school zone lights were flashing or not, so why are you even talking about a non-school zone speed? You are faced with the charge you got written for.
     
    army judge likes this.
  8. General88X

    General88X Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for your reply! So if I am faced with speeding in a school zone then all I have to defend is that specific charge? If I am able to prove that the school zone was not active would I then have to defend going 1mph over the speed limit?
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Defending against that charge is as difficult as defending "not stopping for a moving stop sign, a school bus with stopped to discharge or pick up school children".



    Traffic school is a possibility, mate.

    Most minor citations can be dismissed with a defensive driving course.

    A Texas defensive driving course may NOT be taken to dismiss any of the following violations: Speeding at or more than 25 MPH over the posted speed limit.

    A ticket dismissed with a defensive driving certificate disappears from your record.
    You can avoid paying the fine.
    Even with defensive driving, you'll probably still have to pay the court fee — usually about $100/$125 — but that will be less than paying the full cost of the ticket.
    The class will also lower your auto insurance costs.


    You can't prove the school zone restriction was inactive, if the school zone restriction was between 8:00AM to 8:45AM, and you were ticketed at 8:30AM.

    In fact, unless you took video at the scene, you'll not be able to prove you were cited incorrectly.

    What you need to determine is if the city (or other locale) has on file the correct/proper:

    A Transportation Commission minute order, city ordinance, or county ordinance authorizing the reduced speed limit is required prior to use these (school zone speed restriction) signs in school zones.
     
  10. General88X

    General88X Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the reply! I do not have a video of the incident, however, I do have the time I received the citation. TxDOT website states that school zone signs should be operational and the posted limit should be followed 45 minutes before class begins. I called the school from the school zone I got stopped in and they told me that class starts at 8:20 a.m. I received the citation at 8:37 a.m. That is 17 minutes after class began and that is why I believe that I did not break the law. I am currently looking into any city ordinances and such. But that is my primary argument. That the signs are not operational at approximately the same time, having made that discovery by returning to the scene of the incident on two occasions after I received the citation. I also do not believe that there was any special event that day which might have extended the school zone time. I called the campus police for that school zone to confirm this. I am hoping to see if the signs are automated or manually turned on. Hopefully, I can get records of some type indicated when the sign was turned on and off that particular day.
     
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The sign will reveal the time the school speed restriction applies.

    Here are a couple examples.

    Which one resembles more closely the one which you were cited for ALLEGEDLY violating?



    speed0.png

    speed1.jpg

    speed2.png

    Have you investigated traffic school?

    You can take it online.

    Without SIGNIFICANT proof, not just you saying I didn't do it, you'll lose this battle.

    You need to KNOW, the sign will tell you, what hours the speed is restricted.

    I am about 99% the officer wouldn't cite you unless the time you were stopped was within the posted restriction times, or the sign's lights were flashing.
     
  12. General88X

    General88X Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The last one is the most accurate. The same actually. I actually found a city ordinance related to my situation. It seems pretty straightforward, but I have a question on the last part that states "when signs are in place giving notice of such speed limit." Would that mean just having the sign indicated that the speed limit is ALWAYS 20 mph? In the case of signs with flashing light would they need to be flashing to be "giving notice of such speed limit"? Thank you for the help my friend.


    Sec. 19-292. - Maximum limit in school zones.

    SHARE LINK TO SECTIONPRINT SECTIONDOWNLOAD (DOCX) OF SECTIONSEMAIL SECTIONCOMPARE VERSIONS
    School zones are established by ordinance and no person shall drive or operate a vehicle at a speed in excess of twenty (20) miles per hour in any such zone, when signs are in place giving notice of such speed limit.
     
  13. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    WHEN FLASHING, in the case of sign 3.

    If the sign doesn't flash, (but does have lights) it should have the times displayed to indicate when the restriction is to take place.

    If the sign isn't flashing and displays no prohibited times, that is an affirmative defense.

    Now, please answer this question so we can conclude this discussion.

    What did the sign display where you were cited?

    If you don't recall, return to the scene and take a couple of photos.

    Once you have done that, compare the citation to the words displayed on the sign.

    If the lights weren't working AND no restriction displayed, that could be another defense.

    You'll have to return at the time you were cited to take a video to prove the sign is out of order, insofar as the lights are concerned.

    If fail to do what I have suggested, you'll be wasting your time by appearing oin court to say, "I didn't do it, the officer is wrong."


    You must have PROOF.

    Your best option is traffic school. You can use that ONCE every 12 months.

    The next best option is "deferred disposition". You can use DD an unlimited number of times. Why? because it will cost you more, but still clears your driving record.
     

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