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School is starting up again soon and with it, strict enforcement of school zone speed limits. Special rules apply when driving near school zones and if school zones are marked simply with a posted sign without lights, drivers may miss the opportunity to reduce their speed until after they are clocked by radar.

California Vehicle Code 22352(2)(B) states the following: "When approaching or passing a school building or the grounds thereof, contiguous to a highway and posted with a standard "SCHOOL" warning sign, while children are going to or leaving the school either during school hours or during the noon recess period. The prima facie limit shall also apply when approaching or passing any school grounds which are not separated from the highway by a fence, gate, or other physical barrier while the grounds are in use by children and the highway is posted with a standard "SCHOOL" warning sign. For purposes of this subparagraph, standard "SCHOOL" warning signs may be placed at any distance up to 500 feet away from school grounds."

The basic rules for school zones are if you are driving within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school while children are outside or crossing the street, the limit is 25 mph, unless posted otherwise. Some school zones may have speed limits of only 15 mph if specially posted. Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians, school safety patrols or school crossing guards, stopped school buses and children crossing the street. In addition, parents dropping off their children can cause additional hazards.

Remember that if you cannot see clearly because of traffic or other obstructions, it is much better to be safe than sorry.

If you do receive a ticket and you are confident that no children were present, then try to take a 360 degree video on your smart phone at the time of the stop. The officer will probably take a few minutes to make notes of the stop on the back of his ticket. Perhaps you should take a few minutes and put together visual evidence that there was no children present.

I know the stigma that goes with having received a school zone ticket. If you are a parent or other responsible citizen, the last thing you want on your record is a ticket that implies you were endangering children through your driving. If you received such a ticket and believe that it was in error, then please contact me for a free phone consultation.

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