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Feifer & Greenberg, LLP
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01 Aug2022


Using “Lack of Visibility” to Get Out of Your Speeding Ticket

Can you get out of a speeding ticket if you couldn’t see the speed limit sign? This kind of defense is sometimes called “lack of visibility” and lots of people try to use it to defend themselves in court and avoid ticket fees. 

Turns out, the defense could help you get out of your ticket – but it’s not always easy. 

If you received a speeding ticket and you think the speed limit sign was to blame, contact a New York speeding ticket lawyer from Feifer & Greenberg. We’ll look at your case for free and give you honest advice about your best course of action. 

Call (888) 842-5384 now.

Two NY Laws that Could Throw a Wrench in Your Case

It’s difficult to win a case with the lack of visibility defense because there isn’t an official law in New York regarding the visibility of speed limit signs and tickets. 

Plus, two laws might make it difficult for drivers to win using this defense, even if the speed limit signs are obscured or difficult to read. 

One is a law about default speed limits and the other is a lack of laws enforcing the maintenance of speed limit signs. 

1. Default Speed Limits

All roads and highways in New York State follow the same default speed limits unless otherwise posted. Default speed limits are the speeds that drivers adhere to if they can’t find a speed limit sign or they can’t read it. 

This is bad news for anyone trying to claim they couldn’t read the speed limit signs because of trees or a fallen sign. Judges and officers expect you to know the default speeds and drive at or under them. 

The only time this could help is if you were following the default speed limits but the posted speed limit sign was lower and you couldn’t read the sign. 

These are the default speed limits within the state: 

  • Within city limits: 30-45 mph
  • Highways outside cities: 55 mph
  • Interstates: 55-65 mph

2. Posting Requirements

No New York State law requires that the foliage around speed limit signs be trimmed or maintained. In other words, there aren’t any legal posting requirements around speed limit signs. 

This is often left up to individual jurisdictions like cities and counties. This defense could work in some areas, but in others, it might not hold much weight. You’ll need to discuss this with your lawyer to find out what the local ordinances are. 

4 Steps to Take in a Lack of Visibility Defense

If you know that you were driving safely and think you have a case, there are four things you can do to improve your chances of winning. 

1. Take pictures of the obstructed/hidden/blocked sign.

First, take lots of pictures of the hidden or blocked speed limit sign. Take pictures from where your car was when you were driving. Do this as soon as possible so that your photos will accurately reflect what the sign looked like when you received the speeding ticket. 

Photographic evidence is very important. It gives your story credibility, especially if your photos are time-stamped and the meta-data shows the date of your speeding ticket (or close to it). 

2. Hire a traffic ticket attorney.

After you collect all the evidence you can, the next thing you need to do is hire a traffic ticket attorney. You should not attempt to fight this in court by yourself. It’s a tough case to win, even if you do all you can to prove you were not responsible. 

Having a lawyer defend you in court gives more credibility to your case. If your attorney looks over your case and tells you they think you have a chance at winning, you’ll be more likely to get a favorable outcome in the courtroom. 

3. Have your lawyer explain that you were not given notice that the posted speed limit differed from the default speed limit.

Your lawyer will know how to communicate effectively with the judge and defend your case. Ask your attorney to explain that due to the obscured sign, there was no way you could have known what the speed limit was. 

Keep in mind that this defense will be more likely to work if you were following the default speed limit. If you were cited for driving 45 mph within the city limits and could not read the 25 mph sign, ask your lawyer to present this case to the court. 

The fact that you tried to follow the speed limit will do a lot to speak to your innocence. 

4. Have your lawyer provide the local ordinance or policy requiring maintenance crews to trim trees and foliage that are or could have the potential to block roadway signs (if applicable).

This is another reason you need to speak with a local New York traffic ticket attorney, especially someone who is familiar with the local sign maintenance policies and ordinances. 

If your city or county requires crews to keep areas around the speed limit signs free of foliage or debris, ask your lawyer to present this to the court. Provide both the ordinance and the photographic evidence of the sign to the prosecutor. 

Not all counties or cities have these statutes on the books, so you must speak with your attorney and ask if it’s applicable in your case. 

For the Best Chance of Winning Your Case, Hire a New York Traffic Ticket Attorney

If you were following the default speed limit and received a speeding ticket even though you could not see the speed limit sign, contact a New York traffic ticket attorney at Feifer & Greenberg. 

Schedule a free consultation and find out if your case qualifies for the lack of visibility defense. Call us today at (888) 842-5384.