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Properly posted speed limits: A Guide to Speed Limits in Virginia

In order to be to be charged with speeding or reckless driving by speed, the prosecution has to establish what the speed limit was. Usually this is a simple process, the officer just tells the court what the speed limit is on that road. However, a good traffic attorney never takes the speed limit for granted. Here are a few things to look for when you have received a speed related ticket.

Non-Standard Speed Limits

Some roads have default speed limits (i.e. unless otherwise posted all highways are 55 and all city or town roadways are 35). If a local government wants to lower the speed limit or raise the speed limit they have to follow certain procedures and follow certain rules. Typically, signs posted in this manor will have a sticker on their backside which states who posted the sign and when. Any time you are charged with speeding in a zone that is less than 55 mph, you and your attorney should check to see whether the sign was properly posted.

Any example of this defense is when the military police on Fort Belvoire decided that they thought the 55 mph speed limit on a road abutting the military base was too high. So the military police posted 50mph signs without permission from Fairfax County. The signs were the wrong dimensions and lacked a validation sticker on the back.

Failure to Obey a Highway Sign

Some police officers will write a ticket for Failure to Obey A Highway when a person is guilty of speeding. Typically the officers do this when they are feeling merciful and want to write a less sever ticket. (Failure to Obey a Highway sign is only 3 points). However, this ticket only applies to speed limit signs posted by the VDOT. You cannot be convicted of failure to obey a highway sign under the Virginia state code when you disobey a speed limit signs posted by a county or city governments.

School Zones

Va Code 46.2-873 dictates how and where a school zone speed limit sign may be posted. This is a very bureaucratic and complicated law. This law only bans speeding when the signs are properly posted according the rules in this law section. Some of the requirements include that the sign must be posted within 600 feet of the school boundaries OR that a special governing body approve the placement of the sign more than 600 feet beyond the boundary of the school. If the sign is placed beyond city or town or county borders then additional rules apply. Never assume that the sign you violated was properly posted, find out for sure.

Cover Signs, Fallen Signs, or No Signs.

Some forms of speeding require that the speed limit sign be properly posted. If the speed limit sign you violated was not clearly visible, fallen, too small, covered, overgrown, defaced, or missing then contact an attorney to find out whether it is a defense for your type of speeding.

BY: Luke J. Nichols

Nichols & Green pllc



About Luke Nichols

Luke Nichols practices almost exclusively traffic law in Northern Virginia. His primary practice areas include reckless driving, speeding, DUI/DWI, refusal, hit-and-run, driving on a suspended license, and driving on a revoked license. Mr. Nichols has represented hundreds of Virginia drivers. You can also connect with Luke on Google+
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