1/18/2008Wisconsin: Court of Appeals Rejects Missing Sign Defense
Wisconsin Appeals Court rejects attempt at clever speeding ticket defense.
A Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge yesterday rejected the argument that speed limit signs should always be visible so that motorists know at what speed they might receive a ticket. Illinois motorist Michael T Zoril had defended himself before the circuit and appeals courts by arguing that under state law, he should not have been convicted for an offense in a location where no warning signs were visible. State law requires the posting of signs for speeding tickets to be valid.
"No provision of this chapter for which signs are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official sign is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person," Wisconsin Statute Section 346.02(7) states.
Zoril made the argument after having been stopped on October 31, 2006 by the Wisconsin State Patrol. Trooper Ronald Zenk had been hiding with a laser speed gun on an overpass above U.S. Highway 151 in Dodge County. Zenk's lidar device claimed the Zoril's car was traveling at 86 MPH. Instead of challenging this estimate, Zoril argued that the precise wording of Wisconsin law meant there had to have been a legible sign posted near the location where he was stopped.
"We disagree," Judge Burnie Bridge wrote. "Officer Zenk testified and the court found that speed limit postings along Highway 151 were proper.... This testimony satisfied the statutory mandate."
Judge Bridge upheld the $261 fine imposed on Zoril after determining the consequences of accepting his defense would be unsightly and expensive.
"As the state observes, Zoril's interpretation would require the posting of sixty-five mile-per-hour limit signs every fifty yards along a highway in order to ensure that a sign was constantly in view," Bridge wrote. "We conclude that Zoril's interpretation of the speeding statutes is unreasonable and unsupported in the law."
A full copy of the unpublished decision is available in a 14k PDF file at the source link below.