What is the name of your state? INDIANA
I was pulled over for speeding in a work zone on July 6 of this year. I was pulled over at the very start of the work zone for doing 71 in a 55 (on an interstate). For anybody who is not aware, Indiana raised their fines for speeding in a work zone to $300 for a first time offender (my case). I feel that the officer tagged my speed before entering the work zone, as he was standing on the side of the road with a laser and tagging people as they entered. I informed the cop that I was not going 71 when I entered the work zone, but he was not willing to discuss and immediately wrote me a ticket. I was very upset and immediately began researching my case. The first part of the situation that caught my eye was the 55 MPH speed limit set for the work zone, as all construction zones on interstates I had been in recently were 45 or less. I decided to research the Indiana Code that I was accused of violating, which is IC 9-21-5-11, which states:
Temporary maximum speed limits; worksite speed limits; penalties
Sec. 11. (a) Subject to subsection (b), the Indiana department of transportation, the Indiana finance authority, or a local authority may establish temporary maximum speed limits in their respective jurisdictions and in the vicinity of a worksite without conducting an engineering study and investigation required under this article. The establishing authority shall post signs notifying the traveling public of the temporary maximum speed limits established under this section.
(b) Worksite speed limits set under this section must be ten (10) miles below the maximum established speed limit. A worksite speed limit may not exceed forty-five (45) miles per hour in any location.
(c) A worksite speed limit set under this section may be enforced only if:
(1) workers are present in the immediate vicinity of the worksite; or
(2) if workers are not present in the immediate vicinity of the worksite, the establishing authority determines that the safety of the traveling public requires enforcement of the worksite speed limit.
(d) Notwithstanding IC 34-28-5-4(b), a judgment for the infraction of violating a speed limit set under this section must be entered as follows:
(1) If the person has not previously committed the infraction of violating a speed limit set under this section, a judgment of at least three hundred dollars ($300).
(2) If the person has committed one (1) infraction of violating a speed limit set under this section in the previous three (3) years, a judgment of at least five hundred dollars ($500).
(3) If the person has committed two (2) or more infractions of violating a speed limit set under this section in the previous three (3) years, a judgment of one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(e) Notwithstanding IC 34-28-5-5(c), the funds collected as judgments for the infraction of violating a speed limit set under this section shall be transferred to the Indiana department of transportation to pay the costs of hiring off duty police officers to perform the duties described in IC 8-23-2-15(b).
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9. Amended by P.L.116-2001, SEC.1; P.L.235-2005, SEC.125; P.L.40-2007, SEC.2.
Subjection (b) immediately caught my eye. "...A worksite speed limit may not exceed forty-five (45) miles per hour in any location." That seemed to be a very powerful argument for my case. The state failed to follow its on law by setting an illegal speed limit in a work zone. I continued to read on and saw IC 9-21-5-12, which began to change my positive outlook. It states:
Maximum speeds greater or less than what is reasonably safe; declaration of new limit; variable limits based on time of day, types of vehicles, weather, and other factors
Sec. 12. (a) Whenever the Indiana department of transportation determines on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that a maximum speed set forth in this chapter is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist at an intersection or other place or on part of the state highway system, the Indiana department of transportation may determine and declare a
reasonable and safe maximum limit at the intersection or on the part of the state highway system. The differing limit is effective when appropriate signs giving notice of the limit are erected.
(b) A maximum speed limit under this section may be declared to be effective at all times or at times indicated on the signs. Differing limits may be established for different times of day, different types of vehicles, varying weather conditions, and other factors bearing on safe speeds. The differing limits are effective when posted on appropriate fixed or variable signs.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.
After reading this, I figured that the state/Department of Transportation did an engineering study/investigation and the speed limit was legal. However, I still decided to do more research. I immediately contacted INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) to see if a study to determine the speed limit had been conducted. Here was the response I received:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding work zone speed limits for the I-69 added travel lanes project in Allen County. As a customer of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), your comments and requests are very important as we focus on enhancing economic development and public safety in Indiana. INDOT is extremely proud of the Governor’s Major Moves Plan as it fully funds a decade of critical highway projects in Indiana. When Major Moves is complete in 2015, more than 200 new construction and 200 major highway preservation projects will have been built. The plan continues to build a superior infrastructure, bring jobs to the State, and capitalizes on Indiana’s strategic location as the Crossroads of America.
Your inquiry was forwarded to the Fort Wayne District for investigation. Upon receipt of your concern, the Highway Operations Director Todd Johnson was consulted. Mr. Johnson informed us that the current 55 mph speed limit for this area was determined through engineering judgment and that official action documents were signed which makes the speed limit enforceable by Indiana Code. This speed limit was created to protect highway workers when concrete barriers cannot be used to protect them. Also, while the speed limit has been set at 55 mph in this work zone, it is not a work zone speed limit.
I was once again dismayed. It appeared that INDOT had done its job. However, the last statement, "Also, while the speed limit has been set at 55 mph in this work zone, it is not a work zone speed limit" confused me. How can a speed limit set in a work zone not be a work zone speed limit? It sounded like some classic political bull crap to me. I followed up with more e-mails, which appeared to make the INDOT contact irrate, but hey, I am a tax payer, I deserve service! Here was the last reply I received:
The following verbiage has been approved by the Fort Wayne District.
We are not lawyers, but let’s try this again.
The term “work zone speed limit” as described by the law noted refers to a special condition. Based on the conditions described in the law INDOT can then take the legal posted speed limit (for which an official action has been recorded) and temporarily lower the posted speed limit, with proper signage, etc. without having to provide a new official action. This allows INDOT the flexibility to lower the speed zone when workers are present and/or work is being performed. That sums up the official work zone speed limit “45 mph” question.
That said a work zone may or may not have this temporary work zone speed limit as described above. Regardless of the existence of this temporary speed zone, a work zone enforcement zone is roughly y area that workers are present. This area is subject to higher traffic zones.
If you need further clarification, you must seek an attorney.
This final statement took me by surprise. Basically, INDOT changed the set the speed limit for the work zone without completing an engineering study/investigation, but just signed a paper. This statement is also saying that INDOT can enforce a speed limit in a work zone, but it necessarily might not be a work zone speed limit? What's the deal?
Basically, do I have a case to argue that the state set the work zone speed limit to an illegal value? I have proof that there was no investigation completed:
Also, because there aren’t any studies or investigations for this area, there aren’t any signed engineering documents that I can send you.
Is this enough evidence to have my case thrown out/dismissed?