What Is the Penalty for Speeding in an Active Construction Zone in Texas?
July 13th, 2020 by Tad Nelson in Traffic Offenses
While it is always important to obey the posted speed limits on Houston-area roads, you need to be especially careful when driving in and around active construction zones. Under state law, the minimum and maximum fines for speeding in a “construction or maintenance work zone” are double the normal amounts if there are “workers present” at the time. However, this double penalty only applies if the zone in question is marked with appropriate signage indicating the speed limit.
Arresting Officer’s Testimony Sufficient to Establish Defendant’s Guilt “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”
A recent decision from the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, McGee v. State illustrates how these violations work. In this case, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was monitoring traffic on I-30 in Rockwall County. He clocked a driver–the defendant–traveling at 73 miles per hour. This particular area of I-30 had been marked as a construction zone, and the applicable speed limit had been lowered from the normal 70 mph to 60 mph.
A justice of the peace determined the defendant was guilty of speeding in a construction zone with workers present and fined him $197 plus court costs. The defendant exercised his right to appeal to the county court, which also found him guilty and fined him the full $200 plus costs. Before the Fifth District, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction.
Specifically, the defendant argued that the trooper’s testimony alone could not establish “where any alleged construction zone began or ended,” or whether any workers were actually present in said zone at the time of the defendant’s citation. As a traffic ticket is still a criminal charge, the defendant noted the state had to prove his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But the Fifth District said the trooper’s testimony was sufficient evidence. The trooper said there were signs clearly marking where the construction zone began and ended. While circumstantial, this was still evidence that the county court was entitled to consider and credit. And the role of the appellate court is to determine whether any evidence supports the trial judge’s decision. The Fifth District noted, “We may overturn the verdict only if it is irrational or unsupported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” That was not the case here, the Court said.
Speak with a Houston Traffic Violations Defense Lawyer Today
As you can see, the testimony of an arresting officer is often more than enough to sustain a traffic ticket. But this does not mean you should hesitate to challenge a traffic violation in court. In some cases, the officer may fail to appear. And even when they do testify, you still have the ability to challenge their testimony on cross-examination, as well as present additional evidence in your own defense.
So if you need legal advice or representation in connection with a traffic violation–or even a more serious matter–contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Houston, Galveston or League City today to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call 281-280-0100.