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Does "School Zone" Always Mean "Slow Down?"

Even after the academic year ends, those flashing lights around schools in Lamont and Shafter may still be going off periodically. How fast can you go in these situations?

According to VC 22352(b)(2), most school zones have a presumed 25mph speed limit. In some states, school zones are in effect at any time school is in session. But in California, the law is worded differently. The lower speed limit applies only “while children are going to or leaving the school either during school hours or during the noon recess period.” So, even if the sign says slow down and the campus is in use at the time, for summer school or day care or some other purpose, children must actually be present when the officer writes the citation.

These areas are typically only enforced in the mornings and afternoons, so the language may not be an issue, but the non-presence of children is a defense, and the state does have the burden of proof on this issue.

Special Speeding Areas

Another section of VC 22352 deals with senior citizens. Section (b)(3) sets a presumed 25mph speed limit around places that are “primarily used by senior citizens.” The law is aimed at senior activity centers, but could also mean libraries, churches, certain restaurants, and any other place where older folks are present in significant numbers. The city just has to put up a sign, and the police can write tickets at will.

Officers also aggressively enforce speeding in construction zones. Traffic fines double in work zones, so these tickets get very expensive. Like school zone citations, the prosecutor has the burden of proof to show that:

  • Workers Present: Given the odd shifts that many of these employees work, the time of day may not be sufficient to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that workers were present.
  • Signage: The signs must be within 400 feet of each end of the zone, state the reduced speed limit as a number (and not say something like “reduce your speed”), and state the reason for the change.

If the state is unable to meet its burden of proof on each element of the infraction, the judge will normally throw out the case.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive attorneys at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-349-9300 or email attorney@markbigger.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-349-9755.