All drivers across the state of California, whether they reside in California or are simply traveling through, need to adhere to CA Vehicle Code §22350. This law describes the basic speed law meant to protect drivers and passengers alike.
If you have been charged with drunk driving, it is also possible you could face penalties under CA Vehicle Code §22350 for violating the basic speeding law. Fortunately, with help from a dedicated Los Angeles DUI lawyer, you may be able to avoid potential consequences associated with Vehicle Code §22350 violations.
What Is California’s Basic Speeding Law Under CA Vehicle Code §22350?
Under CA Vehicle Code §22350, the state requires all California drivers to operate their vehicles at a safe and reasonable rate of speed. However, that rate of speed can vary considerably depending on the specific circumstances of a case.
Factors That Determine Whether a Speed is Safe or Reasonable
Some of the factors that may be taken into consideration when determining whether a speed should be considered reasonable and safe include:
- Whether there were bicyclists or pedestrians near the vehicle
- Whether the motorist was driving over a hill
- Traffic conditions or whether the road the driver was operating a vehicle on was crowded, remote, or residential
- Whether a railroad crossing was close by
- Whether animals were closed by
- Whether the sun was too bright
- The road conditions
- Whether the driver’s view was obstructed
Distinguishing Basic Speed Limit Law and Prima Facie
There are two primary types of speed limits in the state of California. These include absolute speed limits and prima facie speed limits.
Absolute Speed Limits
Absolute speed limits are considered as such because they can automatically be found in violation of the maximum speeding laws.
Absolute speed laws bar drivers from operating their vehicles faster than:
- 55 mph on two-lane, undivided highways unless marked for higher rates of speed
- 65 mph on highways and freeways that are not marked 70 mph
- 70 mph on highways marked as such under California Vehicle Code §22356
Prima Facie Speed Limits
Prima facie speed limits, outlined in California Vehicle Code §22352, are considered presumed limits. These limits include 15 mph at intersections and railroad crossings and 25 mph in residential and business districts and school zones.
Exceeding prima facie limits does not automatically imply a violation but necessitates demonstrating that the driver was not operating at a safe speed or a reasonable speed.
How Maximum Speed Limits Are Determined Under California’s Basic Speed Law Vehicle Code §22350
California determines safe maximum speeds for its vast network of highways and roads under the state’s Basic Speed Law. This long-established statute mandates that drivers adjust their prudent speed based on current conditions, regardless of posted limits.
Those limits themselves result from comprehensive engineering surveys evaluating factors like traffic flow and crash data to set reasonable speed standards. But the Basic Speed Law makes it clear that speed must adapt as circumstances require. Sections 22350 and 22352 of the California Vehicle Code enact this context-dependent approach to safe speeds.
The overarching rule mandates operating your vehicle at a prudent speed, given the safety of persons and current roadway conditions. Speed surveys help traffic authorities establish initial maximums for a given stretch of road. However, the Basic Speed Law empowers and requires officials to reduce speed limits when conditions demonstrate the need.
California courts uphold citations for driving at an unsafe speed for conditions, even if within the technical speed limit. The Basic Speed Law ultimately judges appropriate speed based on the driver prudently adapting to all present hazards and the flow of traffic.
What Are the Penalties Under CA Vehicle Code §22350?
There are several potential consequences you could face if you are found in violation of CA Vehicle Code §22350. Some of these penalties include:
- Speeding tickets
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Points being added to your driving record
- Liability for causing motor vehicle accidents
- Increased auto insurance premiums
Furthermore, your life could be significantly affected if you are found to have violated Vehicle Code §22350. If your license is revoked or suspended, you may find it difficult or impossible to continue working and supporting yourself and your family.
If your insurance premiums go up, you may find it more difficult to cover the costs of your auto insurance policies, which may also make it difficult or impossible to keep your car on the road. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that you take steps to clear your name of the accusations against you.
Can I Receive a Violation Under §22350 for Driving Below the Posted Speed Limit?
Defense attorneys face this question often when the established speed limit is higher than what the flow of traffic is going or when roadway conditions prevent a driver from traveling at the average speed. So long as you can demonstrate that you did not dangerously disrupt traffic, no violation can stand.
Challenging a CA Vehicle Code §22350 Traffic Ticket
You may be able to challenge the CA Vehicle Code §22350 violations you are accused of by showing that:
- Your actual speed was considered reasonable and safe under the prima facie speed limit.
- Police officers lacked probable cause to stop you.
- It was necessary for you to drive at an excessive rate of speed due to an emergency.
- Police failed to operate radar devices accurately.
- There was a mistake of fact.
- Your constitutional rights were violated.
- The stop was unlawful or improper, such as an illegal speed trap.
Additional Exceptions to California’s Basic Speed Law
While the law is relatively straightforward, safe speed and reasonable driving can be circumstantial. The following are additional factors that can affect the application of going the posted speed limits:
- Emergency Situations: In cases of emergencies where driving at an excessive speed is necessary to respond to a critical situation, the law may provide some leeway. However, it is important to be able to justify your actions and demonstrate that you were responding to a genuine emergency.
- Weather Conditions: Severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain, fog, or snow, can affect what is considered a safe and reasonable speed. Drivers are expected to adjust their speed for conditions accordingly. Exceeding the speed limit during hazardous weather may lead to a CA Vehicle Code §22350 violation.
- Obstructed View: If a driver’s view is obstructed by obstacles, such as a large truck or a temporary road work sign, it may affect the determination of a safe speed. In such cases, the driver may need to adjust their speed to accommodate the limited visibility.
- Speed Limits Set by Local Authorities: Local municipalities can establish specific speed limits for certain roads or areas. These miles per hour may differ from the general speed limits set by the state. It’s essential to be aware of and adhere to any posted speed limits in these areas.
- Court Discretion: In some cases, the interpretation of what constitutes a safe and reasonable speed may be left to the discretion of the court. The court will consider all relevant factors when making a determination.
Your attorney can carefully examine the evidence in your case to determine how to approach your defense best.
Generally, by showing that you had a good cause for traveling at whatever rate of speed you were traveling at or providing the court with evidence that police made mistakes or errors in handling your stop, you may be able to avoid having to pay the traffic ticket or facing additional penalties.
Is CA Vehicle Code §22350 a Criminal Offense?
It is important to know that CA Vehicle Code §22350, the basic speeding law, is not considered a criminal offense. Violations of California Vehicle Code §22350 are considered infractions under California law. This means you are not at risk of being incarcerated due to a speeding violation of any kind.
However, if you happen to cause a collision, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or were found to be committing a crime while violating the state’s basic speeding law, it is more likely that you could face criminal charges. You do have the potential to face criminal charges as well as infractions related to a single event.
Whether you are facing criminal charges or violations through infractions, your life could be turned upside down if you do not take action to protect your future. Your Los Angeles reckless driving lawyer can review the evidence and details of your case to help you figure out how to approach your defense best.
Reach Out to a Traffic Lawyer in Los Angeles for Help
CA Vehicle Code §22350 violations could have a significant impact on your life. Take steps to protect your future when you contact us for help with your defense strategy. Schedule a confidential consultation today to start working on your case as soon as possible.