Judge rules Kentucky’s speed limit law unconstitutional

November 2019

Tyson Fisher

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A Kentucky motorist took a speeding ticket to court, arguing that the state’s speed limit laws are unconstitutional. In a surprise move, a Jefferson District Court judge agreed.

Kevin Curry was ticketed for going 93 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 71. Curry’s attorney fought the ticket by arguing the language of the speed limit statute is unconstitutionally vague.

The county argued that speed limit signs should be more than enough to ascertain what speeds are unacceptable.

“Again, this is a challenge to the face of the statute, and it simply does not matter that speed limit signs could be or should be enough, because the statute does not refer a motorist to such signs,” Judge Julie Kaelin wrote in her decision.

The county argued that citations are issued based on math that derives from comparing the speed of a vehicle to the posted speed limit.

“When a person is cited for speeding, they are not charged with violating a sign (though the number on the sign is very likely the number an officer uses when citing a person), they are charged with violating the statute,” Kaelin wrote. “And in many cases, the statute and the sign are in conflict.”

Kaelin gave a hypothetical where a motorist is driving 45 mph in a business district due to a 45 mph speed limit sign. Section 3 of the statute in question could allow an officer to cite anyone going more than 35 mph “since the language of the statute does not allow a motorist to rely on a sign.”

Lastly, the county argued that ruling the statute unconstitutional will lead to a slippery slope of extremely dangerous behavior.

“Because of this, the court is not only unpersuaded by, but also quite baffled by, the county’s argument in its most recent brief that finding this statute (in whole or in part) void for vagueness would somehow open the citizenry to extremely dangerous behavior which could not be punished,” Kaelin wrote. “The court will not acquiesce to baseless scare tactics.” LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.