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Prima facie is a phrase you often hear in regard to a speeding ticket. What does it mean? In Latin, prima facie means “at first sight.” It is typically the evidence the state will show the court to prove you were speeding. However, “at first sight” does not examine all the evidence. Things are not always what they seem at first sight.

Defining Prima Facie

Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII) further explains the definition by saying, prima facie is an adjective which means, “sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted." A better understanding can be established when the adverbial definition is given. Prima facie as an adverb means, "on first appearance but subject to further evidence or information."

California's Prima Facie Speed Limit Law

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 22362, Speed Laws declares, “It is prima facie a violation of the basic speed law for any person to operate a vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit…” though it could apply to any CVC in sections 22348 through 22413, which cover speed laws.

Prima facie speed limits in California are:

  • 25 miles per hour in a school zone, residential, or business areas
  • 15 miles per hour in alleys, railroad crossings, and highway intersections that have less than 100 feet of visibility

If you received a citation for violating a prima facie speed limit, a speeding ticket attorney can work with to help you resolve the ticket.

Prima Facie Speeding Ticket in a Construction Zone

Just as in every section of the traffic code, CVC 22362 warns drivers about what constitutes a construction zone on the highway. The “slow down, move over” law is not as “cut and dried” as many believe. Most drivers think if they were caught prima facie speeding in a construction zone, their fine would get doubled. However, upon further examination, it might not be so.

This section of the CVC clearly states that signs showing the speed limit must be placed “within 400 feet of each end” of the construction or school zone. Also, workers must be present for it to be a construction zone.

If you got ticketed after all the workers left for the day or when no signs got posted, were you actually speeding in a “construction zone”? Prima facie or at first sight, you were, but upon further examination, probably not. What’s more, if you were within that 400 feet, you were not yet in the construction zone. Every element of the law must be proven by the state “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Moreover, it is up to a judge to determine whether the state proved their allegation of speeding.

Defending Prima Facie Speeding Tickets in Kings County

Bigger & Harman work hard at getting prima facie speeding tickets dismissed in Hanford Traffic Court. Call us at (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Drivers must present their side of the story to the court, or the judge will take the evidence presented by the state at face value. In some cases, when the state’s case is weak, we can get the court to dismiss a ticket or reduce the charge to a no-point, non-moving violation so that your auto insurance premiums do not rise.

The fine itself is usually only one-quarter of the actual cost of a conviction. The fine for speeding tickets less than 100 mph are typically around $500, but the increase of premiums amounts to $1,500 over the three years the conviction or paid fine will stay on the driver’s record.

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