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In a decision that hopefully will not spread to Mojave and other courtrooms, a New Mexico Court of Appeals recently decided that arbitrary speed limits are perfectly legal, at least in The Land of Enchantment.

In State of New Mexico v. Tarin, Mr. Tarin received a ticket for travelling 71 mph in a 45 mph zone. He originally argued that the prosecutor had to show why the state deviated from the standard 75 mph speed limit on this stretch of road. Specifically, he stated that the state had to produce an engineering survey or traffic investigation to show some basis for the nonstandard speed limit. Mr. Tarin lost in the magistrate court, appealed to the district court and lost again.

At this appeal, Mr. Tarin relied on cases from California that required the state to explain why the speed limit suddenly dropped without any apparent reason. The Appeals Court branded the cases as "speed trap cases" that were inapplicable to the New Mexico case. The court concluded that to require the state to show the speed limit's validity placed too much of a burden on the prosecutor, and that the "plain language" of the New Mexico statute required that the speed limit be posted, and not that the speed limit was valid.

This decision reinforces the notion that speeding tickets have little if anything to do with roadway safety, but are mostly about revenue generation. If you receive a speeding ticket in Lamont or Shafter, you need a lawyer who knows all the technical rules for setting an enforcing a proper speed limit. An attorney practicing in Bakersfield knows how to use effective fact defenses to either get the ticket thrown out, or at least have the penalty reduced.

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