I wrote about Boston police being told to ticket anybody going over 30 within city limits, which is not the law. More recently Lawrence County, Indiana, told police to ticket anybody going over 35 within the county, which is also not the law. (A legal blog also reported this story.)
In Indiana the speed limit on a rural two lane road is 55 except as posted. The county didn’t post a different speed limit. Case closed.
Well not just “case closed.” The trial judge said guilty, as traffic court judges are prone to do, and it took a trip to the appeals court to correct the legal error. Trips to the appeals court are expensive.
There’s a bigger issue lurking behind the court decision. Under Indiana law, speed limit reductions in rural areas must be based on an “engineering and traffic investigation.” The county didn’t do one because, according to a county commissioner, “we know what speed limits our roads need“.
Most people who say they know what the speed limit should be are wrong. Lots of people drive 70 while saying the speed limit should be 55, and I have no reason to think Lawrence County residents are any different.
The county’s roads probably could have limits below 55 without becoming speed traps. I’d guess most of them should be 40-45, but nobody has done the study to say so. What the county has done is set the limit for the worst part of the road system. Naturally police will hunt where the speeders are, on the better parts.
If the county wants to ticket people for anything under 55, the county has to justify that lower speed limit. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.
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