Speeding Tickets in Utah
Discovery and Burden of Proof in Utah
Fighting a Speeding Ticket in Utah
Misc. Speeding Issues in Utah
Speed Traps for Speeding in Utah
Speeding Penalties and Reciprocity in Utah
Utah has the “Basic Speed Law” or the presumed speed limit, meaning that a person must operate his/her vehicle that is at a reasonable and prudent speed under the existing conditions, but there are certain limitations on this rule depending on whether there is a sign or not. Thus, the driver should always be cautious of his/her surroundings and must not drive too fast or too slow depending on the circumstances.
Utah’s general speeding laws are found in §41-6a-601 through §41-6a-609 (title 41, chapter 6a, and sections 601 to 609). Basically, they are divided into several sections. In the first section, the laws outline the general speed regulations, including the presumed speed limit and the necessary speeds in certain situations. Second, the laws determine how the Department of Transportation, county, and municipality shall/may determine the reasonable and safe speed limit for each highway or section of highway. Third, the laws authorize the maximum speed in a school zone and penalties, including fines and compensatory service, for such violations, and the complaint procedure for speeding in a school zone. Fourth, the laws present the basic minimum speed regulations. Fifth, the laws establish a prohibition of speed contest on highways. Sixth, the laws state the necessary information that must be on the citation. Finally, the laws provides limitations on the use of photo radar and radar jamming devices.
Absolute Speed Limits in Utah
Generally, Utah is a presumed speed limit state, meaning that if a driver is found operating his/her vehicle greater than the speed limit, it does not, by itself, always show that the driver was illegally speeding (see below: IV. Presumed Speed Limits).
However, the law provides certain speed limits that are presumed to be reasonable for specific situations, so if a driver exceeds these speed limits, then on its face, without any valid defenses, shows that the driver was driving at a speed that is not reasonable or prudent, and thus the driver was driving unlawfully. First, a driver must drive 20 miles per hour (“MPH”) in a reduced speed school zone (when passing a school building or grounds during school recess, while children are going to or leaving school during opening or closing hours, or when flashing lights are operating). Second, a driver must drive 25 MPH in any urban (business or residential) district. Finally, a driver must drive 55 MPH in other locations. The minimum speed on a freeway under normal conditions is 45 MPH, while on major highways are 55 MPH, as posted on the highway. On rural interstate highways, the speed limit may range from 65 to 75 MPH, which will be posted on interstate highways. Because there are two permissible speed limits on an interstate highway, ignorance or confusion is not a defense to a speed violation on an interstate highway. Therefore, any speed in excess of the limits provided is prima facie evidence that the speed violation was not reasonable or prudent and that the driver operated his/her vehicle unlawfully. For one to establish prima facie evidence means the party charging the driver with the speeding violation has sufficiently established its case as long as the driver does not provide any rebutting evidence that would justify his/her violation.
Presumed Speed Limits in Utah
Because there are no absolute speed limits, a person must operate his/her vehicle that is at a reasonable and prudent speed under the existing conditions, such as when, but not limited to, the driver is approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, approaching and going around a curve, approaching a hill crest, traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and approaching other hazards that exist due to pedestrians, other traffic, weather, or highway conditions. Furthermore, a driver should slow down when there are poor weather conditions. For example, driving on an icy road at 10 MPH or driving on an open highway on a rainy night at 25 MPH may be considered too fast. A driver should also slow down when he/she cannot see clearly, in any highway work zones where construction, maintenance, or utility work is being done, and when approaching any authorized vehicle which is flashing red, red and white, or red and blue lights. However, a driver should not drive so slowly that he or she will become a source of danger on the road or interrupting the normal flow of traffic. Therefore, drivers must remember to drive at reasonable and prudent speeds that are permissible under the existing conditions.