I got a speeding ticket last night. I retraced my route today and found that there is no speed limit sign for the entire length of the road…in the direction I was driving. In the other direction there does exist one “25 MPH” sign at the far end. The entire road is in a new area. There are only 2 houses on the road along side many empty lots and piles of dirt.
So…should I fight it? Should I plead “Not Guilty” and represent myself? Should I plead “No Contest” and offer an explanation?
I really don’t need any additional points on my record and I’m afraid I may lose my insurance/financing if I’m convicted.
Is it possible that your municipality has a “default” speed limit? In NYC, for example, where otherwise not posted, the speed limit in the city is 30 MPH. Thus, if you’re going over 30 in NYC, the absence of a sign is not an excuse. Is it possible that the same exists where you are?
What zev_steinhardt said is true in Illinois as well. I know because it happened to me. Got busted for going 37 in a 20.
I went to court and pleaded not guilty pointing out (with pictures no less) that there was no posted speed limit. The road was also quite big (much wider than a typical sidestreet) so I felt 35 was a reasonable limit and was thus barely speeding.
The judge heard what I had to say then pointed out that if the limit isn’t posted then the limit is 30mph so I was still speeding.
The judge found me guilty but reduced my fine and said the ticket wouldn’t go on my record (and it didn’t…I got a citation from the State for a perfect driving record a year later). As a result I’d say it is still worth showing up in court and pleading not guilty…you might get a break and can’t get any worse off.
That said you didn’t say how fast you were driving. If you were doing 100 I don’t think not having a posted limit will matter one bit.
I’m not sure about the “city-wide” speed limit. The cop said I was going 45 in a 25. I should’ve asked to see the radar gun. sigh
Anyway, thanks for the replies! I’m still not sure whether to plead “Not Guilty” or just “No Contest” and simply beg for mercy. I’ve heard that often times a judge will come down harder on folks that fight tickets because they are using court time/money for such a small issue.
You didn’t state who had jurisdiction over the road. Was it a state highway (road), a city road, or a county road. The reason why it makes a difference is that the corresponding law will govern. States have statutes governing the speed limits on its roads. Cities have ordinances governing the speed limits on its roads. All those laws provide for the speed limit and they all state, “unless otherwise posted.”
You won’t be penalized for going to court. Here, in Charleston, SC, the judge will usually reduce the fine if you bother to appear. People here go to court and plead “guilty,” knowing the judge will reduce the fine.
That such things happen wouldn’t surprise me but on the whole I think judges are cognizant of the fact that you are merely exercising your rights which is a good thing (and also keeps them in a job).
Also, while it may be a ‘small’ thing when compared to other crimes such as murder or robbery it can still be a big thing to you. To wit: “…I’m afraid I may lose my insurance/financing if I’m convicted.”
Lose your insurance and you can’t drive (at least not legally). If you need your car to get to work you’re doubly screwed.
I say at least showup in court. I have done so for every ticket I’ve received unless it was from another state and I couldn’t get back. Every time I have been to court my ‘penalty’ has in some way been reduced. The safety citation from the State of Illinois I mentioned earlier? I actually received two of them (each time I renewed my license) even though I had something like 6 tickets over those years.
Whether or not it is better to plead no contest or not guilty I couldn’t say. I would suppose to plead not guilty you should have some fairly decent reason to believe that is so. It sounds like you know you were speeding and unless you can come up with why going that speed was justified you may be better of pleading no contest.
That said IANAL. Take my advice with a grain of salt and do what YOU see fit.
If the situation was as you stated, you were guilty. The speed limit is governed by the applicable statute or ordinance, if there was no posted speed limit. My advice is to appear in court and plead guilty.