I received a speeding citation last week on the notorious I-45 speed trap. Allegedly, I was going 73 in a 60. In my pre blogging days I would call the court and ask for deferred adjudication, pay the tax (fine) and move on.
However, the Google SEO gods demand constant sacrifices of content so I’m considering setting this case for trial and blogging the experience. I haven’t completely committed to that endeavor just yet. The time obligation could be too great, and I may just give up and pay the fine. I also need to check and see if this is a court of record. That way if I have a trial and lose, I can appeal de novo and still get deffered or have another trial.
First, let’s look at the laws regarding speeding in Texas. Most people think it is illegal to simply drive faster than the posted speed limit. While you can always be ticketed for driving over the speed limit, you may not be guilty of speeding. How’s that? To chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code-
SUBCHAPTER H. SPEED RESTRICTIONS
Sec. 545.351. MAXIMUM SPEED REQUIREMENT. (a) An operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.
So why do cops pull people over for speeding when there is no evidence of unreasonable or imprudent speed? That’s where speed limits come in.
Sec. 545.352. PRIMA FACIE SPEED LIMITS. (a) A speed in excess of the limits established by Subsection (b) or under another provision of this subchapter is prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable and prudent and that the speed is unlawful.
Driving over the speed limit creates a rebuttable presumption that you were being unreasonable or imprudent. That is, the State has proven you were violating 545.351 by showing you drove over the speed limit. From that point it’s up to you to show you were being reasonable and prudent. This allows cops to ticket you for going any amount over the speed limit, even though you may be able to beat the case at trial.
Trials have large opportunity costs so most people pay the fine and/or call and ask for deferred.