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Many drivers wonder at what point does the new speed limit sign become effective. Is it when you see it or when you have passed it?

The US DOT Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices states, the speed limit sign “shall be located at the points of change from one speed limit to another.” That directive does not leave any room for interpretation. However, some may wonder if the state they are driving in can change that law.

Technically, yes. The state law must meet the minimum requirement of the Federal law on interstate thoroughfares, such as I-5, 10, 15, 395, and others. Although Caltrans uses the CA MUTCD, which is a stand-alone document, it follows the fundamental principles and procedures of the US DOT MUTCD. Though jurisdiction or authority begins at the local level, it cannot change the fundamental principles established by the state or federal government.

Prima Facie Speed Laws Negate a Speed Limit Sign

Regardless of the speed limit sign, CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 22350, Speed Laws warns drivers to use a prudent and reasonable speed given the weather, traffic, visibility, and road surface. Not heeding this directive could get you a “too fast for conditions” citation for going 45 mph in a posted 55 mph zone when visibility is limited by fog.

Historical Perspective Speed Limit Sign Vs Yellow Light Change Interval

If you recall, about ten years ago, the town of Fremont used a quick yellow light to red light change interval. The MUTCD prescribes the time limit for the change statewide. When the city used the correct time interval, red light tickets went down dramatically.

The length of the yellow light is based on the speed limit along that stretch of the road. For example, at 25 mph, the light should stay yellow for three seconds, but at 45 mph, it must stay yellow for 4.3 seconds statewide. An analysis showed that the majority of the red light tickets issued in Fremont occurred in the first half-second of the red light. Red light tickets are $500, and a portion of that revenue goes into the town and county treasury.

Imagine if everyone in Fremont had continued to pay their fine and not challenged that injustice. That’s why you should always consult a traffic ticket attorney before paying a fine.

Traffic Ticket Attorneys Who Handle Speeding Tickets in Inyo County

Call Bigger & Harman when you get a speeding ticket due to an unclear speed limit sign, (661) 349-9300. When you travel up to Mammoth for skiing or visit Mt. Whitney, a speeding ticket can spoil your trip, and in some cases, cause your return to resolve the ticket in traffic court.

We handle traffic violations for our clients in Bishop and Independence Traffic Courts in Inyo County. Give us a call or send an email, Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The US DOT Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) last revised June 12, 2019

The CA MUTCD dated March 29, 2019

CVC 22350, Speed Laws

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