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  • Clarification on traffic laws.

    Looking for some clarification of some vehicle code, maybe some case law to back it up. I'm a rookie in a small department, a lot of what I learn is on the go and by myself.

    According to 75 PA C.S. 3368e, timing devices may not be used within 500 feet of a decrease in speed limit. There are exceptions for school and work zones.
    My question is this, if the higher speed limit is 35 and the new, lower one is 25, can I pull over and cite based on the "old" limit of 35. There are many cars that come one way through a speed zone I run that are well in excess of the speed limit of 35. Reading this literally, it sounds like I'm SOL for citing them at all. Until now I only cite when they're coming the other direction and therefore don't have the decrease in speed.

    A similar situation... I run speed enforcement on a road which is the border between my jurisdiction and the next one over. The double yellow is the dividing line. I've been told conflicting things from various police officers throughout my education and training. Some say you can cite cars going either direction, in either jurisdiction. Some say you can only cite on the one side of the road while they're in your jurisdiction. In your opinion which is correct?

    I'd be happy to take PMs if someone wants to offer input without putting it for the public to see.
    West Chester University B.S. Criminal Justice: May 2009
    Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy Class 126: July-Dec 2009
    Full time Patrolman in Chester County, PA.

  • #2
    The easiest solution to your speed limit sign question is to move somewhere else. Or, you could always just cite them and let them fight it in court (OVERTIME) and let the judge decide. But the way I read it you shouldn't be using any speed timing devices 500 ft in front of or behind the 25mph sign.

    We have a similar border where I work and we normally only cite on our side of the road. However, cars going in the opposite direction will get pulled over depending on the circumstances. I just don't make it a regular habit. If you didn't see the traffic offense originate in your jurisdiction then you shouldn't be going after them.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well the speed limit isn't decreasing going to one direction, so there is no doubt in my mind that those are valid and legal stops.
      I'm part time so the ROBIC lines that are set up are the ones I use. I may lobby some of the full timers now that it is getting nicer to help me paint some new lines though.

      I haven't once pulled over someone on the opposite side of the double yellow for speeding. This post is merely to educate myself for future discussion about policies and such.
      West Chester University B.S. Criminal Justice: May 2009
      Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy Class 126: July-Dec 2009
      Full time Patrolman in Chester County, PA.

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      • #4
        You should be asking your prosecutor these questions. What any other town does really doesn't matter.

        Comment


        • #5
          3368(e): reads in part "Mechanical, electrical, or electronic devices may not be used to time the rate of speed of vehicles within 500 feet after a speed limit sign indicating a decrease in speed."

          If the 35 mph zone is in your jurisdiction and you can time the violators in that zone then you are good to go. However, if you plan on charging for violations of the 35 mph zone while timing the vehicles in the 25 mph zone that is a no-no. Try using 3361. I used to use the section where reduced speed zones weren't long enough to comply with PSP regs for the use of radar. (The Department regs are longer that the vehicle code allows.)
          When Society makes war on its police, it better be prepared to make friends of its criminals.

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          • #6
            The 500' limit is to give the drivers a chance to slow down, so no, you can't cite.

            Also, I would say that you can only cite those drivers that are in your jurisdiction. That would be like trying to cite that driver for expired inspection, etc in the other town.
            Steve

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Steve in PA View Post
              The 500' limit is to give the drivers a chance to slow down, so no, you can't cite.
              I realize it is to give the drivers a chance to slow down, but my point is that they are traveling in well excess of the previously higher speed limit.
              West Chester University B.S. Criminal Justice: May 2009
              Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy Class 126: July-Dec 2009
              Full time Patrolman in Chester County, PA.

              Comment


              • #8
                There is no prohibition against citing violators for excessive speed within the first 500' feet. The prohibition is against using specified speed timing devices which is why 3361 works. Given the requirement of allowing a minimum of 10 over in reduced speed zones most officers that I know allow 15 over before putting pen to paper. That translates to 50 in a 35 zone. If they continue at that speed into the 25 that cgravines is talking about then we are looking at drivers travelling at twice the posted limit. A visual estimation of speed is enough for prosecuting 3361. Shaffer v, Torrens, 359 Pa. 187, 58 A.2d 439 (1948) established that everyone is considered an expert witness for the purpose of opinion testemony concering speed. The rational behind the ruling was that with out the ability to estimate vehicle speed no one would be able to cross a street. "the requirements for admissibility of lay witness estimations of speed include (1) an observation of the vehicular movement in question; and (2) a recognition of impressions of like vehicles at relative speeds.” Because of the training we receive and the experience that we gain while enforcing the Commonwealth's speed laws police officers are considered even more reliable in estimating speed. Just be sure that in any hearing that you testify to the conditions that make the speed in reasonable; such as pedestrian traffic, children in the area, cross street traffic, etc.; basically the reasons that your municipality posted 25 as the maximum safe speed.
                When Society makes war on its police, it better be prepared to make friends of its criminals.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I almost always give 15mph before I even put the car in drive. PABear you seem to have understood it right, if I clock someone doing 50mph, I should be able to cite them for something because they're going fast enough that I would pull them over if the zone was 35 instead of 25.

                  I will research Shaffer v. Torrens and discuss with my superiors to see if they'll be behind me citing in this circumstance.
                  West Chester University B.S. Criminal Justice: May 2009
                  Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy Class 126: July-Dec 2009
                  Full time Patrolman in Chester County, PA.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    While researching case law on the subject don't ignore civil cases. Many of the decisions concerning estimations of speed arose in connection with law suits over traffic crashes.
                    When Society makes war on its police, it better be prepared to make friends of its criminals.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Clarification on traffic laws

                      If you are timing cars in the 500 feet after the speed limit decreases you would be fine citing for the violation of the previous speed limit (ex. 35 MPH zone decreases to 25 MPH zone – cite the vehicle for exceeding the speed in the 35 MPH zone). This section of the Vehicle Code does not give someone carte blanche to exceed the speed limit in the 500 foot interim. It simply means that you should not be citing someone for exceeding the lower speed limit until they have ample opportunity to adjust their speed and slow down.

                      As it pertains to the double yellow dividing line, you would be fine citing vehicles on either side. Under the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure section 130(a)(5), “When any offense is alleged to have occurred within 100 yards of the boundary between two or more magisterial districts of a judicial district, the proceeding may be brought in either or any of the magisterial districts without regard of the boundary lines of any county.”

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                      • #12
                        I am not positive about the enforcement of the 35 mph speed limit in a 25 mph zone unless you can clearly articulate that you saw the vehicle maintain the same speed in the 35 mph zone that he was timed traveling in the 25 mph zone. Basically, the argument would be, how do you know that the offender did not increase his speed (for some unknown reason) and was traveling 45 mph or lower in the 35 mph zone and incresed his speed before being timed in the 25 mph zone?

                        As for enforcing both sides of the road that are divided by township lines, 42 PA C.S subsection 8953(5) states that "Where the officer is on official business and views an offense, or has probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed, and makes a reasonable effort to identify himself as a police officer and which offense is a felony, misdemeanor, breach of the peace, or other act which presents a clear and present danger to persons or property." So this pretty much covers any offense in the crimes code or vehicle code i.e. a person speeding could be seen as a clear and present danger to themselves and other people on the road.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think it can be agreed upon that it is improper to be timing cars in the 500 feet after the speed decreases with speed timing devices that “clock” vehicles between two reference points (ex. white lines). However, if an officer is pacing a vehicle utilizing a certified speedometer or VASCAR in a 35 MPH zone and then enters the 25 MPH zone, you would still be good to charge them with exceeding the 35 MPH speed limit. I’m a little confused by your argument. If a vehicle was traveling at 45 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, enter the 25 MPH zone and continues traveling at 45 MPH in the 500 feet after the speed change, they should be charged with exceeding the 35 MPH speed limit.

                          42 PACS 8953 is the Municipal Police Jurisdiction law. This has nothing to do with the charging of offenses. It is in place so that an officer who witnesses an offense in another jurisdiction can take action. A municipal police officer who is out of his/her jurisdiction can arrest, but cannot charge someone for things like DUI, Disorderly Conduct, Simple Assault, and so on if they are in another jurisdiction. They can, however, stop or take a person into custody, notify the proper authority which covers that jurisdiction, and turn the actor over to that agency for prosecution. The exception to this is the 100 yard rule that I had mentioned in my previous post.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The 100 yard rule has nothing to do with police jurisdictions. It governs District Court boundaries and only if those boundaries are within a single Judicial District. The only way the 100 yard rule comes into play for a municipal officer is if he works in a municipality that is large enough to have more than one District Court cover the area that he works.

                            42 PaCS 8953 is apparently interpreted differently across the state. In the county that I worked that section was interpreted to give municipal officers charging authority and as far as I know none of their arrests were ever overturned by any appelate courts.
                            When Society makes war on its police, it better be prepared to make friends of its criminals.

                            Comment

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