My Speeding Ticket

So I get this speeding ticket in Columbus GA, for traveling 40 in a school zone during the restricted hours when the speed limit is 25. Here is the scoop…

Sequence of Events

1:30 - I stop for a late lunch at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, by myself. The restaurant is located *inside* the school zone. I neglect to notice or make a mental note of this. The school zone sign is not flashing when I pass by it.

2:00 - School Zone speed limit comes into effect

2:05 - I leave the restaurant, pull out of the parking area and make a left onto River Rd. To the right, up the road is the back of the school zone sign, not visible to me. The very first speed limit sign that I see (and have the opportunity to see) says “40”. I am accelerating to 40 mph as I notice the motorcycle policeman near the sign. I pass him at 40 mph, he pulls out behind me and flashes his lights.

My Analysis

At no point on this trip have I seen a speed limit sign that says anything other than “40”. I assume that I just missed the sign, but I ask him just to be sure. Did I have an opportunity to see the sign, given the spot where I pulled out from the restaurant? He mentions that he can pull me over 1 minute past the time the school zone comes into affect (which was not the question I asked him at all). Befuddled I curse my luck and drive back to work.

I took some pictures but you can't make out the signs. The pictures were taken from the location where I pulled out of the restaurant parking. To the right I have circled the BACK of the school zone sign alerting oncoming traffic of the school. To the left I have circled the “Speed Limit 40” Sign, which is located inside the school zone. I made a left and got pulled over just around the bend.

Click to see full pic…

The Verdict

The officer who pulled me over did not show up, however another officer was there to testify. I should have pointed this out to the judge but at that point was not thinking clearly - not sure if that would have made a difference. Oddly the judge found me guilty but dropped the fine since I came “prepared”. I would have gladly paid the fine, I just didn't want (nor did I feel deserved) the points on my license. Apparently what it came down to was “Could you see the school?”. I said no, adding that I was focused on making a left into the chicken lane on a 4-lane road (Apparently “chicken lane” is a term I picked up from Transportation nerds in NYC, which caused general befuddlement and amusement in the courtroom). The Judge put the same question to the officer who said “Yes, of course you can see the school”. I offered to show the judge my photos and he indicated that he trusted the Officer's opinion. The verdict: Guilty, 10 days probation, fine dropped.


Steve Landis, 2009/01/13 14:53

Did you call him “Sir”?

michael, 2009/01/14 01:21

of course.

Monica Kriete, 2009/01/17 01:57

That is nonsense.

I remember my dad encountered a similar situation a couple of years ago. He ran a stop sign because a bus was stopped and completely blocked the stop sign from his field of vision, and he got a ticket. I'm not sure what happened… I think he went to court and they fixed it. You could ask him.

michael, 2009/02/01 17:01

I'll ask him. He's a lawyer too so that can't hurt.

nicholas kriete, 2009/03/03 01:33

Maybe you shouldn't have been driving while black, which is a crime where I live. Seriously, go to court and tell this same story to the judge. He'll probably negate the points and reduce the fine a little, but you obviously fell into their money trap and they will want your money to get out. Good luck.

nicholas kriete, 2009/04/02 03:11

Is there any resolution yet? Happy, I hope…

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