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State Court Of Appeals Rules Against County Speed Limit
Updated January 27, 2016 8:11 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Attorney Dave Smith addressed the commissioners about a Indiana State Court of Appeals Case that will affect the speed limits on county roads.

On January 19th the appeals court ruled ruled in favor of Cary R. Coleman.

On November 29, 2014 Coleman was driving north on Leesville Road when a Lawrence County Police officer clocked him going 46 miles per hour. The officer stopped Coleman and issued Coleman a speeding ticket.

Pursuant to Ordinance 5-2-1 county officials had altered the speed limit on Leesville road from the statewide default of 55 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour. However there were no signs on Leesville Road giving northbound motorist notice of the altered speed limit.

Coleman fought the ticket and the matter was set for trial on March 2, 2015.

The trial court heard arguments from the state and Coleman. Coleman testified that he had exceeded the 35 miles per hour, but argued that the applicable speed limit was 55 miles per hours saying there were no signs posted stating different for northbound traffic.

He did state there was a speed limit sign facing southbound traffic, but that the sign had been illegally placed by a private citizen.

According to Coleman, in the absence of signage notifying northbound motorists of the altered speed limit, the 55 mile-per-hour statewide default speed limit applied.

In the motion, the State conceded that "there are no traffic control devices or speed limit signs for northbound traffic on Leesville Road."

The State noted that there was a speed limit sign for southbound traffic on
Leesville Road, and that there was "an issue as to when and how this sign was

The State went on to argue that pursuant to Lawrence County Ordinance 5-2-1, the maximum speed limit throughout Lawrence County is 35 miles per hour unless designated otherwise.

Thus, according to the State, because there are no speed limit signs for northbound traffic on Leesville Road, the applicable speed limit is 35 miles per hour.

Because Coleman had admitted that he had exceeded 35 miles per hour, the State argued that the trial court should enter summary judgment against him. Coleman filed a response in opposition to the State's motion for summary judgment and a motion to dismiss.

The parties appeared for a hearing on May 18, 2015. After hearing argument, the trial court entered judgment against Coleman, reasoning that Indiana law does not require a sign to be posted for the 35-mile-per-hour county-wide speed limit established by Lawrence County Ordinance 5-2-1 to be applicable.

Coleman was ordered to pay a fine and court costs, which Coleman paid in full.

But Coleman appealed the court's findings. The Appeals Court found in favor of Coleman stating that because there was no sign on Leesville Road notifying northbound motorists of the altered speed limit. Thus, pursuant to I.C. ยง 9-21-5-6(c), the altered speed limit was not effective as to northbound traffic, and the default
speed limit of 55 miles per hour was applicable.

Because Coleman was alleged to have been traveling at 46 miles per hour, he did not commit the civil infraction of speeding. As Coleman did not exceed that speed, the judgment against him was in error.

Smith says the issue now is that county roads that are not posted with 35 miles per motorist traveling more than 35 miles per hour are not violating the speed limit.

Smith added that now before a 35 mile per hour sign can be posted the sheriff's and highway department will have to do a road study, post notice of the changed speed limit and hold a public meeting for each county road that does not have a posted speed limit sign.

"Which will cost a lot of money," says Commissioner President Bill Spreen. "We live here and know what speed limits our roads need. This is just another way for the state to totally over write us."

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