In Part 1 of this series, we covered the first two types of speed limits, “absolute” speed limits and “presumed” speed limits. To review, “absolute” speed limits are violated even if the driver is only driving 1 mile per hour over the speed limit, while “presumed” speed limits take driving conditions into account. To review in greater detail refer back to Part 1 in this series.
In defending you against a speeding ticket in a “presumed” speed limit area, even Utah lawyers will have a difficult time proving that driving 65 mps in a 35 mph zone is safe.
Here is some important information that Utah attorneys will gather to build your case:
1. Utah lawyers, or their staff will go back to the scene and take photos at the same time and day of the week you were cited. Also, take a photo from the driver’s viewpoint. It’s obviously to your benefit for the lawyer in Utah that you retain to establish the road was straight, with good visibility.
2. Utah attorneys might hire a professional to diagram the road, showing the location of your vehicle, the officer’s vehicle, and any other traffic. It helps if you were not ticketed in a busy commercial district where cars enter and exit parking lots and businesses.
3. The presence of heavy traffic can sometimes be a plus. With lots of other cars on the road your lawyer in Utah could argue that “everyone was exceeding the speed limit by about 10 mph and I would have endangered myself and others by driving slower than the flow of traffic.”
“Presumed” speed limit laws work both ways. Utah attorneys could argue that on a pleasant summer morning on a wide, un-crowded highway, it is safe to drive above the posted limit. They could compare the speed limit to other similar roadways. However, on a wet day when visibility is limited by fog, it may not even be safe to drive at the posted speed limit. An officer can still ticket you for driving at or below the posted limit, if it is unsafe to do so.
The “Basic” Speed Law
“Absolute” speed states set an upper limit, above which your speed is considered illegal. However, these states also have a way to ticket you when you are driving under the speed limit if an officer concludes your speed was unsafe. Called the “basic” speed law, it prohibits driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed is below the posted limit.
In all states, tickets for driving under the speed limit, but too fast to be safe, are often referred to as “driving too fast for conditions.” For example, driving exactly at the 65 mph posted limit on the freeway would not be smart amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.
The difference between a lawyer in Utah fighting one of these tickets and a speeding ticket for going over the speed limit is that here the prosecution (meaning the officer) has the burden of proving you were driving unsafely. (Again, that’s because the posted speed limit is presumed to be safe.) This means the officer must testify that, given the unusual road, weather, or traffic conditions, your below-the-limit speed was unsafe. This can be tough to do unless you were involved in an accident, since the cop may be hard put to come up with enough hard evidence to rebut the presumption established by the posted limit.
Police most often rely on the “basic” speed law after an accident. They reason that you were driving too fast, no matter how slow you were driving, because you were in an accident. However, you do not have to despair if you were in an accident and are charged with violating the “basic” law for driving at an unsafe below-the-limit speed. The fact that you’ve had an accident is not absolute proof that you were driving unsafely, and attorneys in Utah are well to handle with such accusations. Accidents, after all, are not always caused by your violating the law. Often they are caused when another driver screwed up.
If the police officer argues that the accident itself is evidence that you were driving at an unsafe speed, even though you were not technically speeding, attorneys in Utah must be prepared to challenge him. If you are defending yourself, your best bets are normally to claim, and hopefully prove, that the accident could have occurred for a number of reasons. For example, it could have been:
1. entirely or partly another driver’s fault;
2. the result of a freak act of nature, in the form of a sudden wind gust, a tree falling, or other natural occurrence, or
3. a defect in the highway, signs, or signals, which would happen if a stop sign is missing or a stoplight fails.
Because “basic” speed limits are frequently used when an accident was involved, attorneys in Utah see “basic” speed violations quite often in personal injury cases. A personal injury lawyer in Utah is well experienced with collecting data and proof to defend you against claims that you were driving too slow for the conditions.
It’s not likely that you’ll have a routine speeding ticket citing a “basic” speeding violation. However, if you do encounter one, the information stated in this article should well equip you to dispute it yourself, however once an accident is involved it a whole different ball-game. You would be well to hire yourself a personal injury lawyer in Utah, or whichever state your accident occurred in. An injury lawyer in Utah has the knowledge and experience best suited to serve you when you have been involved in an accident. If you have specific questions, contact an attorney at Shumway Van & Hansen! For more information please continue to look at www.shumwayvan.com or stop by any of our offices which are located at 8985 S. Eastern Ave, # 100, Las Vegas NV 89123 or 8 East Broadway, Suite 550, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111. We look forward to hearing from you soon.