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Can highway patrol have you under radar for exceeding speed when standing under the first posted speed limit sign.

Olympia, WA |

In washington state, getting onto an off ramp behind an 18 wheeler and onto a 4 lane highway (2 lanes same direction) The 18 wheeler is slowing down on the right lane due to an incline, so I pass on left lane and highway patrol is directly under the FIRST posted sign and radars me going 5 mph over the posted sign (55mph) when I'm attempting to pass. Two things wrong. First, I'm passing while slightly exceeding the speed limit with a reasonable margin of safety, which is permissible in WA state. Last, why am I under radar for speeding if I haven't even reached the speed zone for the 55mph limit and the sign was not in my sight until I got in front of the 18 wheeler since it blocked my view. Got a ticket going 5 mph over the speed limit. Crazy!

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer
Posted

It sounds like you might have a valid defense in that you were not within the specific speed zone of 55 MPH. I think this is the better defense than the fact that you were slightly over 55 mph, even though you were passing. This doesn't seem to work with most judges. But regarding the speed zone issue, the officer must indicate in his report that you were within a specific speed zone and many officers actually specify where the signs are posted. Overall, it appears you have some issues to challenge the ticket. As with any ticket, i would retain an experienced traffic attorney to handle it for you

Asker

Posted

Thank you. In fact, the distance between the end of the off ramp and the first posted sign was a mile or less and he was standing directly below that sign and pointing up with his right hand at the speed limit and the left hand with his radar gun. Being that your from WA, it was exit 36 going to Longview off Southbound I-5. Curious, if I were to challange it, do you think most patrol officers would show up to contest a 5 mph over citation. Going over 5 mph seems like a waste of the courts time to even proceed with any hearing. I appreciate your comment.

Andrew C Huff

Andrew C Huff

Posted

I know that area very well and have represented many people stopped for speeding down that stretch of I-5. Regarding your question about the officer appearing, he/she only appears if you subpeona them to appear. otherwise, the court rules allows the judge to simply read the officer's report and any other information provided. The judge will then decide whether the state has met their burden of proving that you were speeding. And most judges I know take even a 5 mile over ticket pretty seriously.

Asker

Posted

I understand and thank you for answering my questions This whole ordeal is just frustrating. I'm just now wondering if its in my best interest for to plead guilty but explanin my circumstances through mitigation or roll the dice and contest it. Unless I supbeona the officer (which I prefer not to) the concern that I have is the judge may not believe or take into consideration that the officer was directly beneath the sign. The fact that I was speeding (even at 5 mph over) is what the judge I think will look at regardless where the officer was standing in relation to the speed limit sign because the Judge (in my thinking) may believe that I should know how I should adjust my speed once I got off the off ramp and onto a highway.

Andrew C Huff

Andrew C Huff

Posted

I would not advise trying to mitigate your ticket because then it will still be on your record. You should always fight these because to be honest, the high majority of the time we can keep them off your record. Also, aside from the speed sign issue, there very well could be other issues or problems with the case. Also, when you retain an attorney, you do not have to personally appear in court, just your attorney. Please let me know if I can help.

Asker

Posted

As much as I would appreciate an attorney on my side and you obviously have the experience, its just not something that I could afford right now. The ticket was for only $93 and I know inorder to retain an attorney and to show up to my court date would be much more. My driving record is good, so I don't anticipate my insurance going up due to a 5 mph over citation. Oh boy. Curious, what is the cost to represent me in court, which is located in Kelso, WA Thanks again.

Andrew C Huff

Andrew C Huff

Posted

My standard fee is $250.

Posted

I can't provide you specific legal advice, but I can observe that if a ticket is challenged police are required to provide certification that the radar unit is working properly. If the officer is moving at the time instead of stationary, then police also need to provide certification that the patrol car's speedometer interface with the radar is working properly. Additionally, there is a recognized margin of measurement error that should be accounted for, each unit is different but the officer should be required to provide testimony. When factored together, a ticket for 5 mph over could be subject to challenge.

I will note that I believe that the defense of slightly exceeding the speed limit in order to safely pass a vehicle does not apply when both lanes are going the same direction. You might want to talk to a lawyer to evaluate your options. Good luck.

I have been licensed to practice in the State of Oregon since 1990. I am not offering legal advice regarding your question, only general information regarding the law. You are not my client nor am I your attorney unless we sign a retainer agreement.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your input. Your right about the two lanes going in the same direction. I guess only in WA and AZ can you exceed the speed limit slightly when passing on two lanes with opposing traffic. What about standing right at the first speed limit sign and hitting you with a radar before entering the specific speed zone coming right off the off ramp about a mile or less? Seems a bit unfair not to give a driver an opportunity to lower the speed espcially if one is not familiar with the speed change after going from 70 on I-5 and no warning of reduce speed ahead. Thanks again.

Posted

You are not allowed to go over a posted speed limit in Washington "with a reasonable margin of safety" on a roadway with two lanes in the same direction. The law in Washington is that you can only go over the speed limit to pass on a roadway with fewer than two lanes in each direction so that you may pass. Even then, if you speed it must be safe to do so.

In your case, you might have a defense to where your vehicle was on the roadway at the time you were going 5 over. If you were in a 60 zone, you might have a defense. There are probably others. Nevertheless, as a commercial driver you will want to try especially hard to keep this off your record, as a moving violation can create employment as well as insurance and driving privilege consequences.

This answer is given merely for informational purposes and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice, contact an attorney in your state to see if working together makes sense.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you; in fact, I just don't really know what the speed limit/zone is once you leave any off ramp and prior to the first posted speed limit sign. I'm just still shocked that a patrol officer will ticket going 5 mph over. Thanks again.

Posted

Since you were not yet in the 55 mph speed zone, I believe that this citation can be challenged on that basis. The argument that you were slightly exceeding the 55 mph limit that was about to commence due to passing is likely to be less convincing to a court. I would recommend retaining an attorney to handle the case. My advice to clients is to challenge all traffic tickets, since the first citations are more likely to be favorably resolved since the driver's record is clean. If you wait until you already have infractions on your record, prosecutors and judges are less inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your input. I think that I will contest it, but I'm going to have to do it without a lawyer. As much as I would like to retain a lawyer, it's only a $93 fine, and I would imagine a lawyer to represent myself in court is much more. Isn't it?

Robert David Benjamin Edwards

Robert David Benjamin Edwards

Posted

Yes, attorney fees are in addition to any fine and/or court costs. Our firm typically charges a $350 flat fee for traffic cases. However, we handle the court appearances so there is no need for you to go to court. Please let us know if we can assist in this or any other traffic, business, real estate, or estate planning matters. Regards, Ben. Benjamin Edwards Cullen Palmer Law Office LLP 606 Columbia Street NW, Suite 104 Olympia, WA 98501 Voice: (360) 786-5000 Fax: (360) 943-7707 Email: ben@cullenpalmer.net

Asker

Posted

Thank you.