The Campaign For DA

6.15.2007

Stuff I Learn

I didn't know that exceeding the speed limit is not a crime so long as your speed was still "reasonable and prudent." (Just saw this when reviewing some case law.) From Tollett v. State, 219 S.W.3d 593 (Tex.App. - Texarkana 2007, pet. filed):

 As argued by Tollett, the offense of speeding requires, in general, proof that the vehicle's speed was not reasonable and prudent. Section 545.351 of the Texas Transportation Code provides: "[a]n operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing." Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.351(a), (b) (Vernon 1999). However, the Transportation Code also establishes maximum speeds which are prima facie evidence that the vehicle's speed is unreasonable. Section 545.352 provides "[a] speed in excess of the limits established by Subsection (b) or under another provision of this subchapter is prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable and prudent and that the speed is unlawful." Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.352 (Vernon Supp. 2006); see also Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§ 545.353, 545.355, 545.356 (Vernon Supp. 2006). Proof of exceeding a speed limit, while sufficient evidence for a jury to infer a finding the speed was not reasonable and prudent, does not conclusively establish that the speed is not reasonable and prudent. "Prima facie evidence" is merely "[e]vidence that will establish a fact or sustain a judgment unless contradictory evidence is produced." Black's Law Dictionary 598 (8th ed. 2004). Although unlikely, a defendant could prove that a speed in excess of the statutory speed limit was reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing. Therefore, the State must allege the speed was greater than was reasonable and prudent. Eaves v. State, 171 Tex. Crim. 670, 353 S.W.2d 231, 232 (1961); see 7 Michael J. McCormick, et al., Texas Practice: Criminal Forms and Trial Manual § 30.42 (11th ed. 2005).