8/27/2005Tennessee Court of Appeals Allows Speed Limit Challenge
Full text of a Tennessee Appeals Court decision allowing a challenge to a speed trap in the city of Oak Ridge.
When an Oak Ridge, Tennessee police officer stopped motorist Diana Brown for speeding on July 11, 2003 he probably never realized that doing his duty that day would end up costing his city several thousand dollars. Last Friday, Brown won a crucial case in the Tennessee Court of Appeals with the three judge panel handing the substantial bill for the appeal itself to Oak Ridge.
Brown had tried to argue in Oak Ridge Municipal Court two years ago that the 45 MPH speed limit on South Illinois Avenue (State Route 62) was posted too low, in violation of federal guidelines set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The trial court judge refused even to listen to that line of argument.
The Appeals court told the trial judge that he was wrong and that he must now allow Brown to make her case in full. "It is axiomatic that a defendant has a right to attempt to prove a properly-asserted, legally recognized defense to an action asserted against the defendant," the opinion states.
Brown's $30 traffic ticket case will now be reheard in the lower court. The Appeals court did not rule on the legality of the speed limit sign, saying, "It will be the defendant's obligation to rebut the presumption by proving that the posted speed limit was not properly established."
The National Motorists Association has called Oak Ridge a "speed trap" with the city collecting $6.3 million in speeding tickets. The group helped fund Brown's appeal.
The full text of the Appeals Court decision is available in 26K PDF format below.