Dogged driver gets speeding ticket worth $150 dismissed
By R. SCOTT RAPPOLD THE GAZETTE
May 12, 2007 - 1:44AM
If you’ve ever been ticketed for speeding — but were certain you weren’t going that fast — then J. Dale Mosely has a story you want to hear.
Friday, Mosely got out of a speeding ticket — which would’ve cost him $150 and four points on his driver’s license — by proving that a stretch of North Union Boulevard was improperly marked with a work zone speed limit, and that police were enforcing it anyway.
“It was the principle,” said Mosely, a 36-year-old business owner from Colorado Springs. “I wanted to be sure that, if I’m going to pay the fine, I was doing what they said I was doing.”
It turns out, he wasn’t — sort of.
He was heading to a business meeting March 7 about 9:30 a.m, driving south on Union, just north of the construction at Aus- tin Bluffs Parkway.
He was pulled over, and the officer said he clocked him at 49 mph in a 35 mph zone. Only Mosely was sure the speed limit on that stretch was 45, like the signs said. He protested but still received a ticket.
What he had missed, though, was a temporary 35 mph speed limit sign, put up by a contractor doing night work associated with the Austin Bluffs interchange project. The officer wrote the ticket based on the work zone speed limit sign, which Mosely says he didn’t see.
Mosely decided he’d fight it, refusing offers of a plea from the Colorado Springs City Attorney’s Office. He began making measurements, demanded the officers’ notes, and prepared himself for trial.
“I felt the speed limit was wrong,” he said. “I didn’t think I was speeding.”
And he noticed, when he went back out to North Union, the 35 mph sign was gone. So he began calling the city’s traffic engineers, who did some research and concluded the sign shouldn’t have been there after 5 a.m.
“Unfortunately, in this case the contractor doing utility work a little upstream for the night did not remove the sign in the morning,” said Justin Schaeffer, senior city traffic engineer. He did not know how long the sign was left up.
“Should the police have enforced it? That’s not my call,” Schaeffer said.
Sgt. Philip LeBeau, a Colorado Springs police traffic unit supervisor familiar with the ticket, said officers had no way of knowing the sign was there improperly.
“We don’t regulate where the contractors put the signs up or when they should be taken down,” LeBeau said Friday. “We rely on the signs that are in place, visible to drivers, to guide our enforcement.”
After the city Attorney’s Office learned of the error, they dismissed the ticket, said prosecutor Michelle Keller.
Although Mosely said he saw numerous others pulled over that morning, neither police nor prosecutors could say how many drivers were ticketed there or what would happen to those who were.
Keller said prosecutors only learned of the problem from traffic engineers Thursday afternoon.
“We have not made any decisions about how to handle the situation,” she said.
Mosely believes it was more than a mistake, that police knew the sign was improperly placed but issued tickets anyway, something police deny. He asked the municipal court to order an investigation. The request was denied.
“The whole time that sign was posted, (police) were all over that area,” Mosely said. “There’s probably hundreds of other people who got ticketed illegally because of that sign.”