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Lack of signage causes COA to toss speeding ticket

January 19, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals threw out a man’s speeding ticket issued in Lawrence County after ruling the county did not make motorists aware with signs of the 35 mph speed limit on the road.

The statewide default maximum speed established by statute is 55 mph on roads, unless a local jurisdiction alters the speed limit. Indiana Code 9-21-5-6(c) requires appropriate signs giving notice of the altered limit on the street or highway. Lawrence County enacted Ordinance 5-2-1, which sought to reduce the speed limit throughout the county to 35 mph.

Cary Coleman was clocked at 46 mph going northbound on Leesville Road and pulled over for speeding and issued a ticket. He disputed the infraction, claiming that the applicable speed limit for the road was 55 mph and that there were no signs giving notice of the 35 mph speed limit for northbound motorists.

There is a sign placed illegally by a private citizen facing the southbound lanes alerting motorists of the slower speed limit.

The trial court agreed with the state’s argument that because the county ordinance dictates the speed limit county-wide, Indiana law does not require a sign be posted for the ordinance to be applicable.

Coleman appealed in Cary R. Coleman v. State of Indiana, 47A01-1506-IF-659, and the judges agreed with him.

“In enacting Lawrence County Ordinance 5-2-1, the county sought to reduce the speed limit throughout Lawrence County to 35 miles per hour. However, it is undisputed that there are no signs on Leesville Road notifying northbound motorists of the altered speed limit. Thus, pursuant to I.C. § 9-21-5-6(c), the altered speed limit was not effective as to northbound traffic, and the default speed limit of 55 miles per hour was applicable. Because Coleman was alleged to have been traveling at 46 miles per hour, he did not commit the civil infraction of speeding,” Judge Robert Altice wrote.
 

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