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Old 04-22-2014, 12:25 PM   #26
F3nris
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Not really the place for this question, as this thread is for a very specific circumstance. Maybe start another thread.

Interested in hearing how OP's situation plays out.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:55 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by F3nris View Post
Not really the place for this question, as this thread is for a very specific circumstance. Maybe start another thread.

Interested in hearing how OP's situation plays out.
FYI, my court date is scheduled for June 6th. As the date gets closer and I collect more info, I will post updates and let you know how this whole thing plays out.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:46 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Ziggyrama View Post
But hold on a second, towards the end, the cop in the room actually corrected both of us and said that the ticket is marked as a 90-17, which refers to section 17 of the same chapter that governs areas where there are no posted speed limits. The link to the law:

Chapter 90 Section 17
Quote:
M.G.L. 90-17: If a speed limit has been duly established upon any way, in accordance with the provisions of said section, operation of a motor vehicle at a rate of speed in excess of such limit shall be prima facie evidence that such speed is greater than is reasonable and proper;
90-17 does two things...

1) If there's no posted limit, it says what the accepted limits are before you can be cited.
2) If there is a posted limit, it says that if you go over it, you're speeding and can be cited.

You just lost. You will not be able to defend against 90-17 using "what everyone else commonly does on the road" speed limits (i.e. 85th percentile) when it's actually posted, and 90-17 says so.

The only opportunity you have is for things to go exactly the way Jack says.

FYI: The state only does the 85th percentile on *state* roads (if they do it at all and not just pick a number out of their ass). If you're on a non-state road (i.e.: town), the town can set whatever limits THEY feel are reasonable and proper without an engineering study, citing 'safety' or 'residential concerns' being two of the more popular reasons.

I don't know if the road you were on is a state highway or not, but it's something to think about. (And looking on Google mpas, it's not a state road, town can do however they please).

Good luck. Not saying it's impossible, but unlikely.

--kC

Last edited by KC; 04-23-2014 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:20 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by KC View Post
90-17 does two things...

1) If there's no posted limit, it says what the accepted limits are before you can be cited.
2) If there is a posted limit, it says that if you go over it, you're speeding and can be cited.

You just lost. You will not be able to defend against 90-17 using "what everyone else commonly does on the road" speed limits (i.e. 85th percentile) when it's actually posted, and 90-17 says so.

The only opportunity you have is for things to go exactly the way Jack says.

FYI: The state only does the 85th percentile on *state* roads (if they do it at all and not just pick a number out of their ass). If you're on a non-state road (i.e.: town), the town can set whatever limits THEY feel are reasonable and proper without an engineering study, citing 'safety' or 'residential concerns' being two of the more popular reasons.

I don't know if the road you were on is a state highway or not, but it's something to think about. (And looking on Google mpas, it's not a state road, town can do however they please).

Good luck. Not saying it's impossible, but unlikely.

--kC
I re-read that section again and the 'unless' clause is crucial. I see your point. But, I didn't just lose. Section 17 states that the limit has to be posted in accordance with section 18. My fallback is that the speed limit is unreasonable and illegal which I am looking into. Your interpretation of the municipal road regulation is not accurate. From MassDOT:

Chapter 90, Section 18 of the MGL requires posted speed limits to be established through the issuance of special speed regulations. On state highways, MassDOT is responsible for conducting an engineering study to establish a speed regulation. On municipal roadways, the municipality, usually in conjunction with MassDOT, collects data for the engineering study needed to establish a speed regulation. The MassDOT Traffic Engineering section reviews this data and prepares a speed regulation for approval by the MassDOT Highway Division and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Speed regulations for municipal roadways must also be approved by the municipality.

So, even municipal roads have to be approved. It is not a free for all for towns to post any limit they choose and start writing tickets to generate revenue. The town of Berlin does not have any record of the limit being approved by the municipality or MassDOT. They do have traffic study records, just no record for this road. I am going to request access to the records from MassDOT and review them to see if they have any records pertaining to this road. FOI act grants me access to this info I cannot be obstructed to gain access to it. If they make it difficult or unreasonably long, this can also be grounds to argue since I was not allowed to prepare a defense given the dates and obstruction by MassDOT. I am really curious to read these documents.

Am I reaching here? Not really. There are lots of cases in MA where speed limits are posted by towns without any approval. Maybe the worker that day put something up that they happen to have on the truck, or someone did do the required work. The problem is, there is no record of it in the town and so I have to follow up with MassDOT to build a reasonable case. I believe that if I can reasonably demonstrate that the limit is too low, I can win. There are lots of cases where the judge rules in defendant's favor because of this. Check this out (Salem MA):

link

or this one, few years back:

link

People assume that if it is posted, it's "the truth". Not so. If I lose, so be it. If anything, this is a very interesting journey to really understand the regulations and I have already learned a fair amount about our traffic laws.

Thanks for all the feedback though. This is very valuable.

Last edited by Ziggyrama; 04-23-2014 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:30 AM   #30
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OK, I'll start by saying that I was sited for speeding few months ago. So, why am I starting this thread? Well, I challenging the ticket as I believe the speed limit in that area is unreasonable
I only got that far. The tears in my eyes from the laughter prevented me from reading any further.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:40 AM   #31
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I only got that far. The tears in my eyes from the laughter prevented me from reading any further.
Sorry, I missed the amusing part of my post. I wasn't trying to be funny when I made this thread. In fact, I am really not that funny in person either. But thanks for the complement.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:46 AM   #32
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Some good info on 85th percentile and speed limits in MA:

http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/speed/MassHighway/manual.html

Heck, you may find something that helps you in the above link.

Please take note of this section:

Quote:
Special Speed Regulations
Following the determination of the appropriate speed zones and the subsequent approval by the Boston Office, a Special Speed Regulation will be drafted by the Boston Office Speed Zoning Section to be signed by the Chief Deputy Registrar for the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the State Traffic Engineer for MassHighway. In the case of a City or Town regulation, the Special Speed Regulation must first be adopted by the appropriate City or Town officials before being approved by Registry and Department officials. (see Speed Control Flow Charts, fig. 6a & 6b) After the regulation is adopted by all of the previously mentioned agencies, the authority in control of the subject roadway may then proceed with the erection of the appropriate speed limit signs at which point the regulation then becomes legal and enforceable.
This comes down to the town doing what they want.

Again, good luck. What this all boils down to, still, after all the engineering studies have been done, is that every town has the right to do what they want on any municipal road as long as it's not a numbered highway. They could cite sight lines, hills, residential, etc... any number of reasons, especially when there are houses on the non-numbered municipal road.

--kC
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:13 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by KC View Post
Some good info on 85th percentile and speed limits in MA:

http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/speed/MassHighway/manual.html

Heck, you may find something that helps you in the above link.

Please take note of this section:



This comes down to the town doing what they want.

Again, good luck. What this all boils down to, still, after all the engineering studies have been done, is that every town has the right to do what they want on any municipal road as long as it's not a numbered highway. They could cite sight lines, hills, residential, etc... any number of reasons, especially when there are houses on the non-numbered municipal road.

--kC
Yup, I have read that entire page, end to end. I should go back and read it again. Just like with 90-17 and 90-18, every time I read it, I pick up some new detail I missed before. I am not a lawyer so I am definitely at a disadvantage here since I am going up against people that know the book better and can use it to argue which can trip me up, as last time.

So, if the town decides to do whatever they want, although the above paragraph still implies that higher state authority has to be involved, there must be a record of some kind for justification. Otherwise, chaos would ensue. Why not post 15mph limit sighting children playing in the area and write thousands of tickets? All decided in someone's head that is probably not even in the town anymore. There has to be some rule for this other than someone decided. How? The fact that Berlin is a small town and most people in the town hall are part time or are volunteers, makes it more likely that corners were cut and procedures were not followed. Heck, I go to the gym with a ranking official that approves building permits in Acton and the stories I get from him do not inspire confidence. There's a ton of shady dealings going on on small municipal level. The question is, how receptive will the judge be if I try to present this case? Will I be treated as a joker that is just blowing smoke or will I be taken seriously and some serious consideration be taken? Ultimately, the judge will make a determination but will they actually consider legal aspects or just go based on 'business as usual' approach? Heck, even if I provide enough entertainment value in court to break up the monotony of normal cases and that wins me some leniency, I am OK with that too
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:03 PM   #34
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Fun fact river rd will be closed due to grinding/repaving shortly.
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:18 AM   #35
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Did he actually measure your speed with a radar gun or laser? Did he write you up for 90-17 or 90-18?
Nope nothing. 90/18
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Old 04-25-2014, 10:32 AM   #36
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Sorry, I missed the amusing part of my post. I wasn't trying to be funny when I made this thread. In fact, I am really not that funny in person either. But thanks for the complement.
If you really want to get a laugh, drink a lot of coffee on the morning of your court date. You'll probably have to wait for some time to see the judge. Don't go to the bathroom, no matter what! When you get called in front of the judge, whip it out and pee right there in the courtroom. Tell the judge you feel it's unreasonable to make you walk all the way to the restroom, and you're contesting the arrest for public urination you just received.

I'm sure he'll get a chuckle out of that. He'll be so amused he'll let you off on your speeding ticket, too.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:47 PM   #37
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Update:

My court hearing happened this morning. I sat there for about 1.5 hours while all the criminal cases went through. That was an interesting bunch of people: breaking and entering, DUI, violation of probation, etc etc. Anyways, after that, the civil cases started to roll and eventually my name was called. BTW, the cop showed up.

The cop testified, I had an opportunity to question him, which I did. Nothing significant to report there. Then, I decided to take the stand (optional) and I laid out the case in front of the judge. Before today, I successfully obtained the MassDOT records for River Road in Berlin MA that specifically pertain to the section where I was stopped. The engineering study records backing the certification were, shall I say, lacking in detail. It was just a bunch of speed limit numbers written with on data to support them. Basically, rubber stamp. I also demonstrated that the time elapsed between the request for the study and the day the study was completed was short that the entire process was very questionable since these things take time. The judge and I went back and forth a few times and eventually found me......drum roll.....not responsible. Thank you.

I think the judge was entertained by the whole case. I did put on a show for good 10 minutes, we had a debate regarding the relevance of the scientific data to back up the speed limit which MAY make it illegal. At the end of the day, I got the ruling to go my way but I will admit that my case was not very strong.
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:55 PM   #38
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Impressive. I know not many people use this argument not even some attorney's so it must have been somewhat entertaining for the judge. How many people showed up like complete bum for there criminal hearings? What was the police officer's reaction after they found you not responsible?
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Old 06-06-2014, 02:35 PM   #39
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Impressive. I know not many people use this argument not even some attorney's so it must have been somewhat entertaining for the judge. How many people showed up like complete bum for there criminal hearings? What was the police officer's reaction after they found you not responsible?
Oh my goodness. Most people looked like they just rolled out of bed, showing up in sweats or dirty wife beaters. I was wearing a tie so that sort of set me apart already. I'd say, 95% of defendants showed up dressed casual or worse.

The cop seemed to have taken it well. He just say thanks and walked out. The funny part is, when I walked over to the bench to pick up the paper stating I was found not responsible, the court room guard walked over to me, tapped me on the shoulder, gave me the paper, smiled and said: "good job". I guess I broke up the otherwise monotonous afternoon I am just happy to get the ruling I wanted. I also learned a lot about Mass regulations while preparing for this ticket. When I was quoting the engineering standard guidelines and why I thought the study was not sufficient to warrant that speed limit, even the judge admitted that it sounded like I put in a lot of time and effort to research this and I knew more about it then he did. Overall, I thought the judge made an effort to be impartial. He did question me and the cop. He did ask him for the calibration records for the gun which the cop brought in with him. So, we both came in prepared. It was not a slam dunk by any means. I barely tipped that scale just enough in my favor to get the ruling and normally I would not advise to take this line of defense unless you can really argue the points well.
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:32 PM   #40
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Just caught up on this thread and seriously, nice work. I know that exact road and I'm pretty sure I've sped a bit without thinking about it. Curious who the officer was, the few I know in Berlin wouldn't usually care about 10 over, but I think they all work the day shift.
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