Speed Trap Laws: When is it Illegal?
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If you have recently received a speeding ticket in an area you consider to be a "speed trap," you should educate yourself on the particular speed trap laws in your particular jurisdiction, and find out if your speed trap could be considered illegal. You may be able to get your speeding ticket dismissed, depending on the circumstances. Speed traps are typically used in smaller jurisdictions, primarily as a way of garnering income for the municipality. If you decide to simply pay the ticket and avoid the hassle of going to court, keep in mind that you are helping to perpetuate the system by giving the municipality your money, not to mention that your insurance rates may increase significantly. Although we all know we should not speed, exploitative speed enforcement should not be used for the purpose of extorting money from normally law-abiding citizens.
More Reasons to Challenge Your Ticket
Aside from preventing your speeding ticket from becoming a part of your driving record and having your insurance rates go up, there are other reasons to challenge an obvious speed trap in court. If you challenge the ticket you are stating unequivocally that speed traps, whether actually illegal or not, are not the correct way for a municipality to pay their bills. By fighting your speed-trap ticket you force the operators of the speed trap (police and municipality) to take their time and money to fight back and prosecute you. If you are well-prepared, there is a good chance a competent judge may dismiss your ticket, and may even reprimand the municipality for operating a speed trap, forcing them to remove it. Although it definitely takes time and effort, the rewards may be well worth it.
What Makes a Speed Trap Illegal?
Most jurisdictions will remove a speed trap if challenged, especially once they realize that the police officers who work for them have the burden of proving that a certified engineering survey justified the posted speed limit on the road in question. You can ask for a copy of the survey from the engineers who performed it--if there was a survey done. The survey must prove that the posted speed limit encompasses 85% of the flow of traffic. Many times there was no survey performed, and the police officers will claim they simply observed your violation of speed due to their experience and training, however there is no reasonable basis for this claim.
You should familiarize yourself with the various speed limits in any areas you will be traveling to or through, as well as going on the Internet and checking out The Speed Trap Exchange (speedtrap.org). If you have received a ticket in a speed trap, contact an experienced attorney who will know all the current laws in your particular jurisdiction and can help you fight your ticket based on the illegality of the particular speed trap, and keep your driving record clean.