lawyer dopers, can a reasonable speed defense actually work?

Not sure if this would be considered a “great debate” question or a general question. Anyway you could file this under “So you got a speeding ticket” under MPSIMS. So yes I got a speeding ticket recently. I was reading that sometimes the defense of “My speed was reasonable given the situation” sometimes works. Is this one of those long shot defenses and I’d have better luck with another line of defense? Guess that’s probably it depends but in general under what circumstances does that defense actually work. (BTW yes I actually believe the speed I was going was reasonable even if the state trooper didn’t.) Oh well, guess I could always question how accurate his assessment of my speed was but then again I did stupidly answer the question “Do you know how fast you were going”:frowning:

Pay the god damned ticket and stop speeding.

Sorry, I’m not usually that rude around these parts, but this just honestly ticks me off.

You’re trying to use a defense that someone who is in danger of losing their life, or some other emergency circumstance, would use for justifying speeding, just because you want to get out of a ticket.

IANAL but your argument will almost assuredly fail in court.

What I don’t understand is people who think that speeding is worse or more immoral than simultaneously kicking babies and strangling puppies.

Wait, are you trying to say your speed was reasonable for the situation in a “driving my wife to the hospital” sense or a “it was safe for conditions” sense? If the former, you can throw yourself on the mercy of the court and maybe get points or fines reduced, but you’re probably not likely to do much better than without the sob story, and maybe even worse if the judge thinks you’re BSing them.

If it’s the latter, you have no chance if you live in a state with an absolute speed law, which most do. In the handful of states that don’t, though, the law isn’t that driving over the speed limit is illegal but that driving at an unsafe speed is, with the heavy presumption that the speed limit delineates safe and unsafe speeds. In those states, you have a vanishingly small but non-zero chance of making an argument if you can somehow show the speed limit was too high (like provide engineering data) and the speed you were travelling at was safe.

Not a lawyer, but in order for one to help you they will need more info.

Can you explain why it was reasonable to be going faster than the speed limit?

Speeding tickets aren’t law enforcement; they’re revenue-gathering devices. For the court to allow such a defense–reasonable though it may be–to succeed is to invite similar challenges from the other fifty people sitting in the courtroom, and everybody else who hears about it, with a potential devastating loss of revenue for the municipality.

So pay your tax–for that’s what it is–get out of the courtroom, and resume your life.

I certainly do think there’s such a thing as “reasonable speed given the conditions,” and that speed may indeed be higher than the posted limit, but reason rarely enters into the auto-guilty traffic court. You are allowed to bleat a little as you’re being bled–that’s what the whole dog and pony show is for, to give you and other the illusion that what you say matters.

Not speeding, but I beat a parking ticket on a technicality.

I went to pay the ticket for "Violation #27"but it did not say in plain English what the offense was. When I asked, because I didn’t want to keep getting tickets for parking near my home, the clerk said “We don’t have to tell you.” Offended, I decided to go to court.

Awaiting my court date, I looked up the state’s requirements for what must be on a citation. And this ticket fell short. Statute said it must cite the law violated. The city was using their own shortcut list, thus #27 instead of a proper cite to the vehicle code.

At court I moved for dismissal on Due Process grounds. The judge took me seriously and walked me through a series of rather leading questions to be sure all the bases were covered. She took the argument under advisement and with that the city’s attorney almost choked.

The judge ruled in my favor in a written judgement a couple weeks later. And after the snow melted I learned that I had parked in front of a handicapped ramp, violation #27.

There is, but it works the other way around. If the road is foggy or slick, for instance, even if I was driving at less than the posted speed limit, the officer can ticket me if I was exceeding a reasonable speed under those conditions.

There are no converse circumstances, though, where the road conditions are so good that I can legally exceed the posted limit – that’s a hard maximum.

Which is sad and wrong.

If you’re in North Dakota, on a clear day in a Lamborghini Gallardo, it is completely reasonable to be doing 120mph on I-94. :smiley:

I hope the OP is in California where it might just work.

“My speed was reasonable given the situation”

'I was late to get to the beauty parlor"? “It was a beautiful day and no one was near me”? “Speeding laws are silly”?


You may be having trouble understanding it because nobody exists who thinks that.

From what I understand, it is remarkably easy to beat a speeding ticket.

Just show up in court. Most of the time, the officer has better things to do than spend half his day in court and you’ll win by default. If they show up, there’s a good chance their radar gun hadn’t been calibrated recently enough, or the officer didn’t have his radar refresher course recently enough, or something. What I’m saying is, chances are, if you challenge a speeding ticket you will win.

HOWEVER, if you represent yourself you have a fool for a client. And a fool for an attorney. So the cost of fighting the ticket very well might exceed the savings. Unless you are trying to keep a spotless driving record or something.

You’re absolutely correct in that it’s intended to work in favor of lower speeds (bad conditions = “reasonable speed limit” becomes lower than normal posted limit) but for the converse, I always imagine a scenario such as: you’re on a crowded road. The posted speed limit is 65 mph. Everyone else is going 80 mph. If you don’t go 80 mph, you’ll be slowing down traffic and risking getting rear-ended, etc. Yet you’re still a good 15 mph over the speed limit… seems kinda damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You won’t get a speeding ticket but a cop might well feel like giving you a ticket for obstructing traffic.


Seriously read it. It’s hilarious. And accurate.

It’s also sometimes the case that the DA assigned to traffic-ticket day will have a standard deal that he or she is offering to drivers who have contested the ticket. For instance, “agree to plead guilty and we’ll knock it down from 80 in a 55 to 70 in a 55.”

Do you know how fast you were posting?

Yeah they are.

No it’s not.

Others have touched on it, but in most states, a posted speed is the absolute maximum. Generally no argument can be made if you get a ticket for exceeding the posted speed.

A few states, most notably California, have prima facie speed limits meaning that on its face, exceeding the posted speed limit is a violation of the law, but you can prove that due to specific conditions it was not.

Were you on a straight stretch of highway with no other cars around? Well, your honor, this speed limit was designed for modest traffic with curves in the road. It may not work, but it is a valid defense in some states.

I am always amused at the cops at the BOTTOM of a hill, taking radar readings. If the objective is ENFORCEMENT and not REVENUE ENHANCEMENT, then why aren’t they taking readings at the TOP OF THE DAMN HILL??

Nobody’s breaking the law there. Like the man said when the judge asked him why he robbed banks, “that’s where the money is.”