eremy Berman of Royal Oak got a ticket for going 70 m.p.h. on I-696, putting him squarely in the middle of a bunch of confusion about changes in Michigan freeway speeds.
He had heard, correctly, that the Legislature pretty much did away with the 65 m.p.h. expressway speed limit in Michigan last November, except for infrequent stretches -- generally in urban areas with older freeways of outdated design -- where lower speeds are legally justified. But I-696 isn't one of those stretches, so legally the speed limit is 70 m.p.h., despite what signs say.
That's the problem. Lawmakers changed the speed limit, but provided no money to the Michigan Department of Transportation to upgrade thousands of speed-limit signs. MDOT still has work to do in that regard.
The chief of the Michigan State Police division that interprets traffic law for the department -- and, by example, for other police in the state -- sent an e-mail Nov. 9, the day the law took effect, advising post commanders statewide of the new law. The message: It's no longer OK to ticket people for traveling more than 65 m.p.h.
Not all State Police troopers have heeded that advisory. Compounding the problem, some drivers took the new 70 m.p.h. max as a license to speed even more.
Here's my best attempt to clear up the confusion, in part so others don't go through what Berman did.
The 23-year-old Wayne State University medical student was ticketed March 22 for driving 5 m.p.h. over the speed limit on I-696. Berman said he was in the middle lane with his 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee's cruise control on 70-71 m.p.h. when he passed a state trooper in the far left lane.
"I didn't hit my brakes," Berman told me last week. "I just kept going on. Even if the speed limit was 65, I couldn't imagine getting pulled over for 70. You'll get trampled going 65."
Why Berman was ticketed isnít completely clear, and I couldnít reach the trooper who wrote the citation. But the ticket indicates the trooper used moving radar and paced Berman at 73 m.p.h. ó a speed that is technically illegal but a laughable reason for a ticket considering I-696ís high speeds.
Itís also not clear which speed limit the trooper was enforcing. If he was enforcing 65 and Berman was traveling 73, thatís more than 5 miles over the limit. If the trooper was enforcing 70, Berman was 3 miles over, not 5.
First Lt. Thad Peterson, who leads the State Police traffic services section, said last week that Berman shouldn't have received any ticket. Peterson's advisory last November to posts statewide couldn't have been clearer.
"Please ensure your troopers are aware that despite what the signs may say, the lawful speed limits on freeways, for which Traffic Control Orders (TCOs) have not been completed, are 70 m.p.h. for passenger vehicles, and 60 m.p.h. for other vehicles that were previously subject to the 55 m.p.h. speed limit," Peterson wrote. "Most freeways recently posted at 65 m.p.h. do not have TCOs, and therefore now are subject to 70/60 m.p.h. speed limits."
Traffic control orders are agreements between State Police and MDOT that a limit lower than 70 is justified. One big exception to the law: 55 m.p.h. limits remain in effect where posted.
Peterson said only the Telegraph Connector to I-75 in Taylor is legally 65 m.p.h. The confusion ought to clear up soon:
ē MDOT spokesman Bill Shreck said Friday that workers are updating signs on all metro Detroit freeways, and he expects that to be done by the end of June. Most other areas of the state already are done or will be in a couple weeks. The cost: about $1 million statewide.
ē High-ranking officials at two of three local posts I called last week said their troopers were ticketing according to the 65 m.p.h. signs. Peterson, leader of the State Police traffic services section, said his department redoubled its efforts to inform post commanders and troopers that such ticketing is wrong.
ē Remember, these new laws were enacted to make freeways safer by encouraging more drivers to obey realistic speed limits, which reduce the risk of crashes and big differences among vehicle speeds. Excessive speeders diminish the benefits and deserve the tickets they're bound to get.
In Jeremy Berman's case, he didn't want to hassle with fighting the ticket, so he paid it. It cost him $125.
And than he doesn't fight it - retard.