In general, there are three different types of speed limits: absolute speed limits, basic speed limits, and presumed speed limits. Below, a Fairfax speeding ticket lawyer discusses each of these types of speed limits, where they can be found, and which are most common in Fairfax. To learn more about local speed limits or to discuss your ticket, call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
An absolute speed limit means that it is unlawful to drive at any speed over whatever the posted speed limit is. Absolute speed limits are very straightforward. Whatever the sign says is the speed limit is the maximum amount that drivers may go without breaking the law.
Basic speed limit takes into account additional conditions that may affect how safe the speed limit is. It’s similar to presumed speed limits but almost in the other direction. For example, if there’s a giant downpour of rain and the posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour, even if someone is driving 45 miles per hour, they can still be charged with violating the basic speed limit because they should have taken into account that there was a downpour and reduced their speed accordingly.
Presumed speed limits are a little more complicated but because of this they provide more opportunities for defending them in court. Most states as a result don’t use these. There’s only a handful that do and in these states, it is legal to drive over a posted speed limit as long as you’re driving safely.
For example, if you’re driving 55 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour speed limit zone, you are presumed to be speeding. However, if it is an empty road and the weather is clear and it’s straight, wide and visibility conditions are great, then it is possible that you would be able to convince the judge that because of the conditions at the time of the offense, you were still driving safely even though you were going 10 miles over the speed limit and therefore the case should be thrown out. Presumed speed limits shift the burden of proof to the defendant to prove that his driving was safe, rather than having the burden on the officer to prove that the driver was speeding.
The difference between them is just how fast someone needs to be going for them to be charged with speeding. For absolute, it’s straightforward. Whatever the speed limit signs say is the speed you should be going. If you’re going more than that, it is illegal. For presumed speed, there’s a little more flexibility and for basic speed it just takes common sense. You need to take everything into consideration not just the posted speed limit.
Virginia is an absolute speed limit state, which is what most states are. Only a very small handful of states follow presumed limits and every single state can charge someone with violating the basic speed limit.
You have to follow the posted speed limit, which is an absolute requirement, and not just a suggestion. The posted speed limits have been decided based on research about safety and engineering.
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