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Judges reverse speeding infraction due to lack of proof

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A driver pulled over in Clark County for speeding was able to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday that the infraction should be reversed because the state couldn’t prove its case.

Brian Byrd was pulled over for speeding by Clark County Deputy Sheriff Donovan Harrod, issuing a citation alleging Byrd violated I.C. 9-21-5-2 by driving 54 mph on a road having a prima facie speed of 30 mph. At trial, Harrod testified that the speed limits on Brown Station Way where Byrd was driving varied from 30 mph to 45 mph and back to 40 mph.

Byrd’s defense produced a photograph purportedly taken near the boat marina where Byrd was pulled over that showed a 45 mph speed sign. Harrod conceded that he “may have made a mistake” as to where [the speed limit] “turns into 45.” He also suggested that the photograph “could be wrong” and clarified that he had “said approximately that area” in his preceding testimony.

The prosecutor then described the state’s allegation as Byrd having traveled nine miles over the speed limit by going 54 mph. Byrd countered that he had his cruise control set to 45 mph upon entering Brown Station Way.

The trial court found him guilty of “Speeding 50/45” and ordered him to pay $154.

According to Indiana Code section 9-21-8-53(a), Byrd was entitled to specific allegations of his speed and location and the applicable prima facie or fixed speed applicable within the district or at the location. He was entitled to have those elements established by a preponderance of the evidence,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in Brian Byrd v. State of Indiana, 10A01-1309-IF-383. “The State provided the requisite specificity, but alleged only that Byrd violated Indiana Code section 9-21-5-2 by driving 54 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone. The evidence adduced did not establish the violation alleged. And the State’s concession to, but without proof of, an alternative fixed speed limit results in a failure of proof.”

 

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