We have all seen posted speed limit signs so many times that we may hardly notice them anymore. In fact, many drivers get so used to driving at a certain speed almost everywhere they go, and they don’t even bother to see what the actual posted speed limit is or to check their speedometer while driving.
Unfortunately, police officers in Pennsylvania and across the country take speeding very seriously. Speeding is the cause or at least is involved in one third of crashes that result in death, according to the National Safety Council, and speeding while intoxicated is another leading cause of accidents. Because of the harm that speeding can do to drivers on the road, police do not hesitate to give out speeding tickets. Speeding tickets and the associated fines are also a way for governments to make money, so the push for police officers to write speeding tickets can be strong.
However, it is not always easy to tell what the speed limit is in certain areas. Depending on where the sign is placed, it can be extremely hard to see because of overgrown trees or bushes, or it could simply be hidden around a corner or curve. Sometimes, speed limit signs are placed at the bottom of a hill, where it is much harder to slow down because of your built up momentum. Speed limits can change suddenly and without warning, especially on highways, and sometimes the speed limit for a given area can be changed completely by the government. This leaves many drivers completely surprised when they suddenly have to drive 35 miles per hour when they used to be able to drive 45 miles per hour in a given area.
There are maximum speed limits allowed in certain areas under Pennsylvania law. They include:
You should note, however, that these are simply guidelines. The actual speed limit could be different than those listed above, depending on the area.
Speed limits also work a bit differently in work zones. In areas where there is construction or road work being done, it is best for drivers to slow down a bit, because the fines for speeding in a work zone are extremely high and could result in a worker being hurt. Also, expensive work projects will have speed detectors installed at the site to catch speeding motorists. You must also turn on your headlights in active work zones under Pennsylvania law, or you will be fined $25.
Active work zones must be marked by posted signs with a flashing light. Anyone who is caught driving 11 miles per hour or more above the speed limit in an active work zone will have their license suspended for fifteen days. The same applies to someone who gets into a crash in an active work zone and was not considered to have been driving at a safe speed. Also, the fines for speeding in an active work zone are twice the amount that they would be for that area. And if someone is charged with vehicular homicide in an active work zone, they could face jail time. Fines also increase if you are caught speeding in a school zone.
The speed limit is only legally considered the speed limit if there is signage indicating it every half mile in that zone and at the beginning and end of the zone. This means that no police officer can “decide” what the speed limit is. You can only get a speeding ticket if you are going six miles per hour or more above a posted speed limit, not simply based on a speed limit that the officer decides is correct.
Your speeding ticket attorney can also argue to have your penalties reduced by showing that there was not adequate signage marking a speed limit or a work zone, or that the signage was extremely difficult to see. In many cases, the judge will lessen your penalties for your speeding ticket or dismiss the ticket entirely if your lawyer can prove that the sign was obscured, missing, or not placed correctly.
If you have gotten a speeding ticket and there is any question about the speed limit, get in touch with a lawyer right away. We have years of experience handling speeding tickets in Pennsylvania and will be able to help you with your speed limit defense.