What Are the Different Types of Speed Limits?

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Depending on the state, one of three possible speed limits may be in place in a given jurisdiction, including presumed, basic, or absolute speed limits. Knowing the specific speed limit in place in a given state, at a given location, is instrumental in mounting any form of speeding ticket violation defense.

Absolute Speed Limit Laws

Generally, the majority of states adhere to what is known as an absolute speed limit law. This states that one or miles per hour over the posted speed limit in a given area are a violation. Commonly, a number of defenses may be raised against absolute speed limit based traffic violations. These may include defenses questioning the speed testing method used by an officer, disputing the actual speed limit at the site of the citation, claiming that emergency conditions forced a driver to accelerate in excess of a speed limit temporarily, or that law enforcement cited the wrong driver for speeding.

Basic Speed Limit Laws

Under basic speeding laws, an officer may cite a driver for driving too fast for conditions, although the driver’s speed is beneath the posted speed limit. Additionally, speeds too slow for the flow of traffic may also be cited under basic speed laws. Basic speed laws essentially seek to give officers the ability to cite drivers maintaining a speed that is simply unsafe or hazardous in light of the conditions at the time. Conditions of the road, including weather related, construction issues, congestion, pedestrian traffic, and other considerations, will widely vary from case to case.

In practice, most citations under basic speed laws will occur following an accident or some other incident, which typically involves a law enforcement officer citing a driver for speeds unsafe for conditions. As a driver, contesting this citation (and possibly the level of fault for any ensuing property or bodily injury damage in an accident claim) will rely on defining what was a “safe speed for conditions” and whether a driver was actually in excess or too far beneath a safe speed for conditions.

Presumed Speed Limit Laws

Similar to basic speed limit laws, law enforcement may cite a driver for driving at an unsafe speed in light of the conditions of the road at the time of the citation. Under presumed speed limit laws, a driver must prove that his or her speed was reasonable, prudent, and safe, in light of the conditions of the road, regardless of the posted absolute speed limits.

Getting Legal Help with Speed Limit Laws and Traffic Citations

Certain drivers may incur citations that offer ample room to contest the nature of the citation, as well as the ensuing penalties, points, fees, and fines. Consult with a traffic violations lawyer to learn if this is the case in your speeding ticket.