Ask LH: Should I Protest My School Zone Speeding Fine?

Ask LH: Should I Protest My School Zone Speeding Fine?

Hi Lifehacker, I just received a speeding fine for being 10km over in a school zone. I don’t deny I was over the speed limit — however I wasn’t in the school zone yet. The cop was sitting right at the school zone sign so really got me going 5km over in a 50 zone, but he said it doesn’t matter as he said I wouldn’t have slowed down anyway. Is there any point me going to court? Thanks, Speed Limited

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Dear SL,

So you admit to breaking the signposted speed limit, but maintain you were outside the school zone at the time of the booking, correct? We imagine this would be pretty tricky to argue in court. Judges generally aren’t interested in haggling the specifics with a proven offender.

With that said, you certainly shouldn’t be penalised for a crime you didn’t commit. If the cop wanted to bust you for speeding in a school zone, he should have waited until you entered it. If he stopped your car beforehand, you obviously couldn’t have committed the crime you’ve been accused of.

Unfortunately, without any video evidence to back you up, it will basically be your word against theirs. The cops could simply accuse you of lying in an attempt to avoid the double demerits and stiffer fine.

We don’t fancy your chances but there’s probably no harm in trying. We’ve looked at the pros and cons of contesting a traffic fine in the past: you can pick up some general advice here, here and here. If you choose to go down this road, the main caveat is that you can potentially cop an even larger fine for wasting the court’s time. This is pretty rare though, thankfully. In most cases, either the fine will be quashed or your case will simply be dismissed.

If you have an exemplary driving record, you might get lucky: but we wouldn’t count on it. If any readers have been through similar issues, let SL know how you handled it in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Five k over in a Fifty k zone abutting the school zone…? You were travelling fifteen k over the school zone just prior to entering it, right..? Deal with it dude, no way were you going to get down to forty k in what sounds like a very short distance…!

    • Not the point though is it? The police fined him for something he didn’t commit. Its like charging someone who’s made a fist for assault without even punching someone, this isn’t Minority Report…
      At 55kmh a jab of the brakes can bring you down to 40kmh very quickly which is why 40 zones are only 10kmh less than usual residential areas as you can brake much faster at lower speeds.

  • You don’t have a leg to stand on – the zone commences where the sign is placed. Unless you can drop from 50 to 40 in an instant, you were speeding.

    • Whether you can or cant, the law in this situation is black and white, he was doing 55 in a 50 zone when caught and should receive the penalty for that, not an “i assume this is how it could have turned out”.

  • There’s no need to take this to court, but there’s no harm in sending a letter to them asking for clarification, and stating your case. Granted there’s a fair chance that you’ll get a form letter back, saying something along the lines of “We’ve reviewed your case, and the fine still stands”, but there’s a chance that they may decide to change the fine to an official warning.

  • You can’t be fined for an act you hadn’t yet committed, regardless of the likelihood of the offence occurring. That would be a dangerous precedent and would never holdup!

    In this instance you can only be fined for the 5kph over the 50kph limit. That should be the basis of your argument. Your letter should seek for the retraction of the infringement based on its inaccuracy’s. You can probably expect to receive a new infringement for the lesser speeding offence though; which you challenge if you’ve got an ok driving record.

  • The other reason for speeding fines (other then revenue raising) is to bring attention to the road user doing the wrong thing. If you didn’t slow down, and you were in-deed 15 Kms over the limit, the potential consequences of that action is that you may not be able to slow down in time to avoid an accident. What’s a better consequence of your action? A speeding fine or a manslaughter charge and a child’s death on your conscience?

    TLDR; You were caught doing the wrong thing and (truthfully) would have continued to do the wrong thing had the cop not stopped you.

  • Good god. Truly bizaar how people believe once they’ve dropped off there kids at school, the speed limit disappears or if they don’t have kids it doesn’t apply to them.

    Suck it up and start driving safely.

  • Not realising it was after 2PM and a freaking 2km long school zone, I got caught doing 50 about 20 meters into it at 2:30PM, half an hour before the kids get out. The cop showed me the radar gun saying 45, but put 50 on the ticket (is that even legal?).
    Totally sucks, because I know children are unpredictable and always slow down when I see kids, school zone or not.
    Anyway it’s the law, revenue raising or saving lives theres no point even thinking about it, just pay the crappy fine and be more careful next time…

  • All I can say is get a DashCam. It would have recorded when he would have radar’d you as well as the conversation he had with you which would have put you in a perfect situation to appeal.
    Sometimes even when they find out your recording their attitude changes quite a lot.

  • I’m boggled at the stupidity of many of the posters replying to this message.

    If you shoot at someone and miss, you get nailed for attempted murder, not murder.

    If you break in and get promptly cornered by the dog, you get nailed for breaking and entering, not burglary.

    If there’s sufficient proof you did 5km over the limit, you get nailed for being 5km over the limit.

    Unless there’s a charge entitled ‘intent to commit a speeding offence’, the officer is completely in the wrong, undertook an intentional abuse of their authority, and should be get their ass handed to them.

  • 1st. 55 in 50 zone get over it just pay the fine.

    2nd. I see people speeding in school zones during school hours, hell children was crossing the road at a crossing the light were on and the women couldn’t be bothered waiting drove straight through them I nearly died, just make me cringe

    Children are so unpredictable I never speed in the zone area couldn’t live with myself if I killed a child, I think you speed at a crossing.

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