Understanding prima facie speed limits

Upon being pulled over for speeding by a law enforcement officer in Encino, the first question that you are likely to be asked is “Do you know what the speed limit is on this road?” Many of those that we here at [nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-3″] – Law Offices of Amir Soleimanian and Associates, Inc. have represented in the past may have reasonably claimed to answer “No” that question. That is because in many areas, speed limits may not be posted. In such cases, the state relies on prima facie (generally accepted) guidelines in order to regulate traffic. Understanding what these prima facie speed limits are may help you in contesting a citation.

California’s prima facie speed limits can be found in section 22352 of the state’s Vehicle Code. According to this statute, you should observe a speed limit of 25 miles per hour in the following situations:

  •          On any highway (other than a state highway) going through a residential or business district where a different speed limit is not posted.
  •          When driving near a school building or grounds designated by a “SCHOOL” warning sign while children are arriving or leaving school during school hours.
  •          When driving near any facility primarily used by senior citizens where the road is marked by a “SENIOR” warning sign.

There is also a prima facie speed limit of 15 miles per hour observed whenever you are traversing a railway crossing or intersection of highways if, during the last 100 feet of your approach, you do not have an unobstructed view of at least 400 feet of oncoming rail traffic, or 100 feet on any oncoming highway traffic.

More information of the laws regulating roadway speeds in California can be found here on our site. 

What is financial responsibility in California?

If you are like most California drivers, you know that you are required to carry automobile insurance if you drive on public roads. However, the law is actually more broad than what many people may know or realize. As explained by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the state recognizes what it called financial responsibility.

Financial responsibility essentially states that anyone who drives or even parks a vehicle on public property in California must be able to prove their ability to financially compensate others in the event that they are at fault for an accident. For most people, this financial responsibility requirement is met by carrying the appropriate level of liability insurance. However, there are other ways of fulfilling this requirement.

A driver may elect instead to purchase a surety bond or make a cash deposit with the DMV. A bond or deposit must be for $35,000. It is also possible to obtain a certificate of self-insurance from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If a person does not properly satisfy the financial responsibility requirement, a vehicle’s registration may be suspended. This may even happen if proper documentation is not provided within a 30-day window of registering a new vehicle or transferring the registration of a used vehicle that was recently puchased.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to provide California residents an overview of what the state requires regarding automobile insurance or other means of financially compensation others in the event that an accident occurs.

What you can expect at the DMV after a DUI arrest

Nothing can ruin a fun night out faster than being pulled over for suspicion of driving while under the influence (DUI). Imagine having a night out with your friends at your favorite watering-hole, then seeing the red and blue lights in your rearview just a few blocks from your house.

While a DUI is a serious charge in California, it is possible to fight it. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to know your rights and options. A California criminal defense attorney can advise you on your case. Read further for what you can expect at the Department of Motor Vehicles after a DUI arrest.

DMV review

If the arresting officer took your license, he or she must forward a copy of your completed notice of suspense or revocation form and a copy of your license to the DMV. The officer also has to forward a sworn report about the incident to the DMV.

Once received, the DMV will automatically review the report, the suspension or revocation order, and the results of any intoxication tests you took. If the DMV supports your license suspension or revocation, you can request a hearing to contest their decision.

Getting back your license

After the suspension or revocation period ends, the DMV will return your license. However, you will have to pay a $125 reissue fee and file proof of financial responsibility. If the DMV’s review of the suspension or revocation ends in your favor, it will reissue or return your license without invoking the fees.

The suspension period

If you took a blood test or breathalyzer at the time of your arrest and it resulted in a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, you could face a four-month driver license suspension if it was your first offense. However, if you have prior offenses within the last 10 years, the DMV can suspend your license for one year.

Applying for a restricted license

You cannot submit a request at the DMV hearing for a restricted license. Instead, you can apply at any DMV field office for a restricted license. This type of license will allow you to legally drive to and from work while your official driver license is suspended.

DMV suspension vs. court suspension

When someone is arrested for a DUI, the DMV takes immediate action by temporarily suspending the individual’s license. It is an administrative action. These sanctions are completely separate and independent from court ordered actions, such as jail, fines or other criminal penalties.

A DUI charge can have very serious consequences. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important that understand all of your options so legal advocacy is recommended. 

Drivers may have ticket fines refunded

Many California residents who receive basic traffic tickets might think there is no option for them other than to pay the fine and move on. When a ticket has been issued at an intersection controlled by a camera, a driver may feel even less that there is a chance to defend against it. A situation recently discovered in the Bay Area, however, provides a great example to drivers of how they may have options they might otherwise be unaware of.

A series of miscommunications involving an intern and others at a police department and a municipal public works department resulted in a change to the programming of red-light cameras at two different intersections. The amount of time drivers were given to legally cross the intersections on yellow lights was reduced by seven-tenths of one second. At one of the intersections, 140 red-light tickets were issued in the first month after the change was made. In the month before the change, only 14 such tickets were issued. At the other intersection, tickets jumped from 66 to 383 due to the change.

The lowered time was in effect for roughly nine months before being returned to its previous level. Pending a ruling from a court, the city may be refunding fees paid to numerous drivers. The total cost is nearly $500,000.

After receiving a traffic ticket in California, drivers might find it interesting to talk to a lawyer and learn about their potential options for a defense.

Source: East Bay Times, “Fremont: Red-light camera snafu could cost city half a million dollars,” Joseph Geha, Feb. 23, 2017

Can minors have their licenses suspended?

When it comes to teenage traffic laws, strict guidelines are in place to prevent accidents and encourage your teen’s obedience. These rules are necessary, as evidenced by the studies reported by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles which claims that the highest rates of injury, collision and traffic conviction belong to drivers between the ages of 15 and 19. Even though these drivers only travel half as many miles as adults, they are twice as likely to end up in a collision.

Injury risks are three times higher for those under 18 and fatal crash rates are two and a half times higher than the average. Citations during the first year of driving for this group also sit at just under 50 percent. With all these factors indicating the danger that teen drivers pose on the roads, you may wonder what is being done to prevent accidents to young drivers as well as all motorists on the road.

State laws warn that if your teenage driver has two “at fault” collisions or convictions in 12 months, his or her license could be suspended for 30 days. A third incident within the 12-month period will lead to a six-month suspension and one year probation. If your teen receives a traffic citation and does not pay the fine or show up in court, his or her license may be suspended until those steps are completed.

There are also several actions unrelated to driving that can result in a license suspension. If you have a teen between the ages of 13 and 21 years old who is convicted of using controlled substances or alcohol, his or her license suspended or delayed for one year. Being labeled a habitual truant can also mean a one year delay, revocation, restriction or suspension of his or her license. This information should not be taken as legal advice.