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Ask Policemandan: Hidden speed limit signs

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Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Q: I often see trees growing in front of speed limit signs. If you are new to an area, it’s easy to not see the signs. I also notice police cars parked in those areas as law enforcement officers seem to know folks will not see the sign. Whose responsibility is it to make sure signs are visible? If the police know they were blocked shouldn’t they have the trees removed, thus removing a safety hazard for public rather than writing tickets?—John

A: I would hope that if there were any speed signs being blocked out there, the police would get somebody to clear that blockage. Believe it or not, most officers don’t enjoy giving tickets like you might think. The truth is that fiduciary penalties are sometimes the only way to teach lessons when it comes to driving. They are much cheaper than the medical or funeral costs that could be occurred to drivers not driving safely.

If somebody got a ticket in an area that they, truthfully, were not aware of the speed due to a speed limit sign that could not be seen, then it might be possible to get out of the ticket. I say possible because the judge would have to be the deciding factor if a ticket was to be upheld or not.

I will tell those who lived in that area of the blocked sign, there probably would not be as good a chance to get out of the ticket by saying the sign was not seen. There again the final verdict would be up to the judge as far as guilty or not guilty.

Another issue that could come into play is basic rule driving where there was not sign or the sign could not be seen in non-interstate roads.

Idaho code 49-654 (1) reads: no person shall drive a vehicle at a speed in excess of the maximum limits: 35 miles per hour in any residential, business or urban district, unless otherwise posted; 65 miles per hour on state highways, unless otherwise posted in accordance with section 49-201(4), Idaho Code, and provided that this speed may be increased to 70 miles per hour if the department completes an engineering and traffic study on the state highway and concludes that the increase is in the public interest and the transportation board concurs with such conclusion; 55 miles per hour in other locations, unless otherwise posted, up to a maximum of 70 miles per hour.

I will also say that the, “I didn’t know”, excuse does not have a very good winning track record when used as an excuse in court.

Officer down

Please put these officers, killed in the line of duty, and their families in your prayers. They fought the good fight, now may they rest in peace. God bless these heroes.

  • Trooper Nicholas Clark, New York State Police
  • Police Officer Vu Nguyen, Cleveland Division of Police, Ohio
  • K9 Cade, Hendricks County Sheriff, Indiana

Have a question for Policemandan? Email your question(s) to or look for Ask Policemandan on Facebook and click the like button. Mail to: Box 147, Heyburn, Idaho 83336

Dan Bristol is the City of Heyburn chief of police.


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