Park City police: Not knowing the speed limit is no excuse
A person pulled over inside Park City who is suspected of speeding may tell the officer something like: ‘I didn’t know the speed limit’ or ‘The posted speed limit is not really the maximum allowed.’
But the Park City Police Department says arguments like those are not valid, and there is a chance a driver would be ticketed anyway.
The Police Department, as part of its public-relations efforts, recently began publishing clarifying postings meant to explain laws that are frequently misunderstood. The publications are posted online every two weeks and provide details designed to help the populace understand the laws. The department’s traffic unit is crafting the postings.
The postings through late August have addressed speeding, stop sign laws and driving through roundabouts. Speeding has for years been one of the top law enforcement issues for rank-and-file Parkites as they worry about fast-moving vehicles, particularly on neighborhood roads. The posting regarding speeding addresses the dangers, the laws and traffic stops.
“This statute is often misunderstood. Most people confuse the speed limits signs to be a ‘guideline’ more than an absolute. The posted speed limit sign is the ‘maximum’ allowable speed that can be safely traveled on the roadway where the sign is displayed,” the posting says.
It also explains that the speed limit defaults to 25 mph in urban areas where there are no speed-limit signs.
“Unfortunately, telling to the officer that you ‘did not know what the speed limit was’ is not really a valid explanation for speeding; the law requires you to know the speed limit wherever you drive,” the posting says.
Park City police officers oftentimes conduct traffic patrols during times when they are not responding to calls. There are also officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. The Police Department has long said the emphasis is based on complaints from Parkites about traffic problems like speeding. The patrols stretch from the entryways into neighborhoods. The police say the traffic patrols sometimes lead to the discovery of more serious criminal activity.
The Police Department’s most recent annual report, covering 2017, showed 5,605 traffic offenses, or approximately 15 per day and the most since 2014. The report also indicated the police issued 756 traffic citations in 2017, the fewest since the category was added to the report in 2014. The number of stops and arrests for suspected drunken driving in 2017 dropped to 65, also the fewest since the report added the category in 2014.
Jay Randall, a Police Department sergeant who oversees the traffic unit, drafts the postings and submits them to the department administration before they are published. In an interview, Randall reinforced the statements in the posting about speeding. He said an officer may write a ticket if a driver is stopped at 1 mph above the posted speed limit.
“It is an absolute,” he said about the speed limit.
Randall said drivers suspected of speeding offer a range of explanations when they are pulled over. Some say they did not see a sign with the speed limit posted, he said.
“There’s all kinds of reasoning behind it,” he said.
The posting also offers suggestions to drivers who are stopped in Park City.
“Our best advice is to use your cruise control most of the time – even in town, be pleasant and respectful, try not to be argumentative knowing the officer has to have credible evidence you were speeding, and last of all, slow down a little bit,” it says.
The postings also provide information about the Police Department’s enforcement focus. The most recent one, published midweek, indicates officers assigned to traffic patrols will emphasize enforcement of the one-way restriction along the Prospector Avenue roadwork zone as well as crosswalks on Park Avenue and Kearns Boulevard. It also notes the start of the school year in the Park City School District, saying “there is always law enforcement focus on speeds in these areas during the school year.”
The midweek posting, meanwhile, identifies Holiday Ranch Loop Road and the lower section of Royal Street as the locations of speed trailers that display the speed of a vehicle as it passes.
The postings are available online at the Police Department’s Facebook page.
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