Appeals court reverses speeding ticketMADISON — When the city of Superior is required to post a speed limit sign, it can’t be enforced unless motorists are able to see it. That’s the ruling made by a state appeals court Tuesday in dismissing a traffic ticket.
By: Kevin Murphy/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — When the city of Superior is required to post a speed limit sign, it can’t be enforced unless motorists are able to see it.
That’s the ruling made by a state appeals court Tuesday in dismissing a traffic ticket.
The District III Court of Appeals opinion reversed a ruling by Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Thimm who ordered Justin Bachinski to pay a $175 forfeiture after being clocked traveling southbound at 44 mph in a 25 mph speed zone on State Highway 35, also known as Tower Avenue, near North 54th Street.
Police Officer Adam Zielinski issued Bachinski a citation for the minimum 10 mph over the legal speed limit.
Bachinski, 23, of Superior contested the ticket issued in July 2012 before Thimm and presented three photographs of a tree branch obscuring the speed limit sign. Bachinski argued it would be unfair to hold motorists responsible if they couldn’t see the sign.
The city countered that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices provision that signs not be obscured was a recommendation, not mandatory, and Bachinski’s citation was valid.
Thimm agreed the shrubbery obscured the sign but since maintenance wasn’t mandatory, he found Bachinski guilty of speeding.
On appeal, Bachinski’s attorney, David Kropid, argued state statutes require the city to post the speed limit sign and it must remain legible.
The District III court agreed:
“Because the speed limit sign was required to be posted, and because the sign was obstructed by a tree branch so that it was not sufficiently legible, we conclude (that state statutes) precludes the city from enforcing the speeding violation against Bachinski,” Judge Lisa Stark wrote in an eight-page opinion.
Bachinski had been ticketed twice for speeding in 2011, including 17 and 22 mph over the limit.
Public Works Director Jeff Goetzman said the city does remove foliage obscuring signs when it becomes aware of the problem.