Many drivers will receive a speeding ticket at some point in their lives. Speeding tickets can be expensive on their own and will also lead to increased insurance premiums. A driver who accumulates too many speeding tickets may even have their driver’s license revoked. However, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to get your ticket dismissed and spare you the inconvenience of dealing with these legal penalties. Southwest Law’s team of top-rated Riverside County criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending those who have received speeding tickets. If you’ve been ticketed for speeding, call Southwest Law today for a free consultation and begin the process of getting your ticket dropped!
California’s basic speed law
California’s basic speed law as defined by Vehicle Code 22350 makes it illegal for a driver to drive faster “than is reasonable or prudent” given the circumstances or conditions. For example, a driver must adjust their speed if there is low visibility due to weather conditions or if the road is slippery or there are pedestrians, animals, or other obstructions in the road. A driver may violate the basic speed law even if they are driving at the posted speed limit if there are other circumstances that make that speed unsafe. For example, a highway that has a posted speed limit of 65mph but driving 65mph on that highway during rush hour while there is a torrential downpour of rain may violate the basic speed law.
Absolute speed limits
Absolute speed limits are the posted speed limits that are fixed regardless of the driving conditions. It is always illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit no matter the circumstances. Driving 80mph in a 65mph zone is a violation of the absolute speed limit regardless of the weather or any other driving conditions.
Presumed speed limits
A presumed speed limit as defined by California Vehicle Code 22352 is a speed limit that is assumed even if it is not posted. For example, there is a presumed speed limit of 25mph in school zones. Other presumed speed limits include 15mph at railroad crossings, alleys, and highway intersections that do not give 100 feet of visibility for approaching vehicles. Driving faster than a presumed speed limit is not necessarily illegal if the driver obeyed the basic speed law. However, if a driver is driving in excess of a presumed speed limit under circumstances that make doing so imprudent they may be cited for violating VC 22352.
Speeding ticket penalties
A speeding ticket is an “infraction” meaning it does not create a criminal record but it will result in a point on your driving record and a fine between $35 and $1,000 plus court costs and assessments. The value of the fine is determined by how far above the speed limit the driver was driving when they were pulled over. For drivers driving under 100mph the speeding ticket is determined using the following scheme:
$35 for driving 1 – 15 miles per hour above the speed limit.
$70 for driving 16 – 25 miles per hour above the speed limit.
$100 for driving 26 miles per hour or more above the speed limit.
For drivers caught speeding in excess of 100mph the punishment depends on their driving record:
$500 for a first-time offense of speeding over 100mph plus a potential 30-day license suspension.
$750 for a second offense within 3 years of the initial violation plus a potential 6-month license suspension.
$1,000 for a third offense within five years of the initial violation plus a potential 1-year license suspension.
Every speeding ticket also results in a point on the driver’s record. If a driver accumulates too many points within a period of time they may be designated as a “negligent operator” and have their license permanently suspended. The point/period scheme for being designated a negligent operator is as follows:
4 points within a 12-month period
6 points within a 24-month period
8 points within a 36-month period
Your options if you have received a speeding ticket
There are three options for dealing with a speeding ticket:
1. Paying the fine and accepting the point on your driving record
2. Paying the fine and completing traffic school
3. Fighting the ticket in court
Completing traffic school will prevent you from getting a point on your record. Successfully fighting your ticket in court will also prevent the point on your record as well as eliminate the fine. Therefore it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to fight your ticket in court.
Legal Defenses Against Speeding Tickets
Three common defenses against speeding tickets are:
1. Showing the speeding was the result of a legitimate emergency
2. Showing the citing officer was mistaken in issuing the ticket
3. Showing the citation resulted from illegal police practices such as a “speed trap”
If you can show there was a legitimate emergency for why you were speeding the ticket will be dismissed. For example, a man is speeding to take his wife to the hospital because she has just gone into labor. If the man gets cited for speeding he can defeat the ticket by showing he was speeding due to a legitimate emergency.
Another way to defeat a speeding ticket is to show the officer made a mistake and you were not speeding. There are many factors that can cause radar devices to give inaccurate readings. For example, trees or other obstructions can interfere with radar devices and many devices are improperly calibrated resulting in falsely high readings. The officer may have also used the device incorrectly. An experienced defense attorney will gather evidence to show you received a speeding ticket by mistake.
You can also defeat a speeding ticket by showing that it was given as the result of illegal police practices such as a “speed trap.” California law makes certain law enforcement practices illegal including the use of “speed traps.” There are two types of illegal speed traps; a “marked road trap” and “unjustified speed limit traps.” A marked road trap is a section of a highway designated for measuring the speed of a vehicle by timing how long it takes to travel that distance. An unjustified speed limit trap is a section of highway that has a lower speed limit than is justified by official traffic surveys. If your ticket was the result of either of these practices it will be dismissed. However, many motorists use the term “speed trap” to describe police practices that are completely legal. For example, an officer concealing himself behind a tree while clocking the speed of oncoming traffic is not an illegal speed trap and can result in legitimate speeding tickets.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Cited For Speeding?
Speeding tickets are always an inconvenience but left unchecked can result in serious legal consequences. Accumulating too many speeding tickets can lead to having your driver’s license permanently suspended. Hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney to fight your ticket in court can save you from the negative outcomes associated with speeding tickets. Southwest Legal’s team of top-rated Riverside County criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience getting speeding tickets dismissed. If you’ve received a speeding ticket, call Southwest Legal today for a free consultation and begin the process of getting rid of that ticket!