Speeding Offenses According To The New Traffic Laws
Where I live, the speed limit is 55 most places; they only recently raised it to 65 on one stretch of highway, although pretty much everyone in the world, including State Police, always go 75, so they don’t want to arrest anyone unless they’re going 25 over; if you’re 20 miles over, you’re fine. Not that I’m telling anyone to go out and speed, of course, and if you’re going to go over the speed limit, don’t be the first person in line, because guess who the cop’s going to pop. You may think they won’t pick you off and you can make the excuse that you’re just keeping up with traffic, but if you’re the first person in line, you’re likely to get nailed.
Again, you shouldn’t be speeding, but if you do, keep it less than 20 miles over the limit, especially at night, because at night the police are looking for any excuse in the world to pull people over. That means, while it might be okay to be close to 20 miles over during the day, you may not get away with that at night.
In my five years as state’s attorney and another 30 defending people for traffic offenses, I have spoken to a lot of State Police, and they tell me they will never pull someone over for going the speed limit, but they do pull people over sometimes for going 10-15 over. Therefore, if you don’t want to be pulled over at all, drive carefully and set the cruise control for the speed limit; going 10-15 miles over the limit will probably only save you a few minutes anyway, so ask yourself if it’s worth losing your license, or having to pay an attorney. Speeding at night is like waving a red flag and asking them to pull you over, so use common sense and go as close to the speed limit as possible at night.
Typically, police have to have a reason why they’re pulling you over, so don’t give them one; many police cars now havevideo cameras mounted in the squad car, and they are constantly recording, which means when the officer puts on his lights at 11:00 p.m. to pull you over, the recording actually goes back 3-4 minutes, and has everything that happened, which means the judge will see exactly what the officer saw and determine if there was actually probable cause, and not have to rely solely on the officer’s testimony.
I just had a case like this a couple of weeks ago, in which the officer said my client was going 30 in a 35 miles-per-hour zone, and that’s what drew his attention to him, so I asked him if that was it; that he was just going a little slow, which is not a crime, when the officer then claimed he was swerving within his lane. We looked at the video, and it showed him driving for almost a mile without going within two inches of the center line, not once. Without the video, I guarantee the judge would have found probable cause, but since it showed he wasn’t swerving, the just threw the case out.
Those cameras are very important, but the bottom line is, don’t give police legitimate probable cause to pull you over. You may still get some dishonest cop who will make something up, like claiming you didn’t signal to change lanes, or you didn’t come to a complete stop at an intersection, but the video will clear you if he’s lying, but only if you really did signal to change lanes or made a complete stop at the intersection; use common sense.
Also, remember that every law is more strictly enforced at night, because there are fewer people on the road and they’re looking for drunks, attempting to keep the roads safe. They also tend to profile black or Hispanic people at night, as well as looking for people who don’t “belong” in a certain neighborhood, and doing investigatory stops just to see what’s up. Those are technically illegal, and the good cop will refrain from pulling people over unless they’re breaking the law, so don’t give them a reason to do so.
Remember, not every police department has video cameras, so sometimes, everything depends on the officer’s testimony against the defendant, which means the usual contest in which judges assume no officer would ever lie. It’s common for there to be instances in which the police aren’t quite forthcoming with the truth, especially if they’re taking the time to write you up and they have to justify what they did. They don’t want to feel like they wrote up a case for nothing, so you have to be very, very careful.
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