Speeding tickets inside construction zones
May 20, 2009 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Are the lowered speed limits enforced after a construction job is finished? Read on for a better explanation.

After a highway construction job will end, and everything is cleaned up and gone, they will occasionally forget the signs that say the speed limit has been lowered and the tickets for speeding doubled.

Can the police still enforce this when the construction team has so clearly packed up and left? (Cones removed, machinery gone, etc)
posted by ascetic to Law & Government (16 answers total)
Were you going faster than the stated speed limit?
Then you have broken the law.

Certainly in the UK, it's a pretty hard and fast rule. Unless you want to take the risk and take it to court I dont think you have much room for negotiation.
posted by BadMiker at 10:08 AM on May 20, 2009

All of the heavy machinery might be gone, but there still could be workers doing finish work, landscaping, etc.

They usually don't forget the signs, either. If they're not down, the job probably isn't over.
posted by hwyengr at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2009

Yes, police can enforce posted speed limits.
posted by box at 10:20 AM on May 20, 2009

I think usually the language is "posted speed limit". So, what is posted is the limit, and it's not what you interpret it should be.

If you are concerned that the construction company left equipment and signs behind, you could perhaps call the construction company or highway patrol (or whatever) to ask.
posted by Houstonian at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2009

Response by poster: I should have been more clear: Say they brought the speed down from 55 MPH to 40MPH temporarily. And they do indeed forget the signs, especially where I live. The signs have been left up for almost 4 days now, even *everything* is packed up and gone.
posted by ascetic at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2009

I doubt they actually forgot the signs, despite evidence to the contrary. Like hwyengr said, there might still be clean up work, etc.
posted by bshort at 10:37 AM on May 20, 2009

Also, not to sound paranoid, but some cities/counties have been known to leave the construction signs up longer than necessary for the this exact reason; I've heard (without actual documentation, to be fair) of examples all across the country.
posted by mhz at 10:45 AM on May 20, 2009

Temporary road signs are sometimes owned by a sign company who is contracted to put the signs out and retrieve them at the end of the project. The signs may be there specifically because the sign company hasn't picked them up yet.
posted by notsnot at 11:08 AM on May 20, 2009

They actually sometimes do forget to remove the signs, it has been known to happen.
posted by jedrek at 11:45 AM on May 20, 2009

According to my cop brother, this happens a lot (for all of the reasons stated above) - and yes, the police will absolutely take the opportunity to collect a fine from a speeder even if they are well aware that the reasons for the speed limit decrease no longer exist. Posted speed limit = speed limit and that holds up in court apparently.
posted by elendil71 at 11:54 AM on May 20, 2009

I've seen signs left up for months (not just one or two) after all activity on a roadside job has finished. I just assumed that they were doing this for cheap traffic control and would totally pull you over. I've also seen on long term jobs or jobs in high traffic areas where they have fold-over signs that when construction was active, the limit was posted, and when it was not the limit was obscured.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2009

I received a speeding ticket for doing 75 in a 45 construction zone in Indiana. There wasn't a single construction worker, piece of equipment, road cone, or anything to indicate that construction was or had been underway, just the speed limit signs.
posted by indyz at 1:37 PM on May 20, 2009

The fine is only doubled when workers are *present*.
posted by MrHappyGoLucky at 3:04 PM on May 20, 2009

If they had a concrete pour or two in the course of the job, it's entirely possible that they're waiting for it to reach a certain strength before they're able to start up again. Concrete strength is usually specified in terms of 7-day strength ( it's still curing at that point, but has gained quite a bit of its final strength) and 28-day strength (basically completely cured), so a 4-day stretch of nothingness isn't so odd.
posted by LionIndex at 7:14 PM on May 20, 2009

We're in the middle of summer-long road work that involves several stages. They started with the sewer grates, today they were working on the water mains, installing new manholes. Later they will replace curbs, gutters, and aprons, and last of all repave the street itself. From what I can tell each of these stages is a separate contractor.

On a highway one of the last parts of a job is shoulder rehabilitation and landscaping, and since these are low-priority they may come a while later.

All that said, usually there is a requirement that workers or equipment be present for doubled fines to apply (in those jurisdictions that have them). Ultimately, though, it's your responsibility to obey the posted speed limit.
posted by dhartung at 9:46 PM on May 20, 2009

The fine is only doubled when workers are *present*

That is only true if the sign states that as the case. In many places, the signs do not make such a statement, so you can get tagged with the higher fine regardless of whether or not there are workers present.
posted by phredgreen at 7:55 PM on May 23, 2009

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