School Zone Defense
While headed east on Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim one morning, I was stopped by an officer from the Anaheim Police who informed me that he had just clocked me on radar at 47 mph in a school zone (25 mph limit by law).
I was very upset at the thought of my having committed such a crime. I was a traffic safety monitor (crossing guard) in elementary school; I have seen three children hit by cars; I never want to endanger children like that.
I called the Principal of Lincoln Ave. Elementary and scheduled a meeting with her. If I was guilty, I wanted to apologize to her and (through her) to her students. If I was not guilty, I would need information from her to prove it.
At our meeting, I told her what had happened and why I was there. I then asked what time the classes at her school started. She said, "Classes start at 8:00, and we tell the parents not to have their children here before 7:30, because we do not have any adult here to supervise them that early."
When I breathed a deep sigh of relief and smiled, she asked what time the officer wrote the ticket. I answered, "7:17 am." She responded, "That ticket is bogus and you can tell the Judge that I said so." She then made a photocopy of the school's schedule for me to take to the judge.
At the trial, I had the Judge read through the appropriate part of CVC 22352, the definition of a school zone. I pointed out the time on the ticket (both in my cross examination of the officer, and in my own testimony), told him what the Principal had said, and handed him the copy of the schedule.
His Honor agreed that it appeared that I had a very strong case, but said that in all of his years on the bench he had never seen that particular defense (am I the only person in Orange County who reads the Vehicle Code?). He took the case under advisement.
The following day, in my mail, I received a written, "Not Guilty."
22352. (a) The prima facie limits are as follows and shall be applicable unless changed as authorized in this code and, if so changed, only when signs have been erected giving notice thereof:
(2) Twenty-five miles per hour:
(B) When approaching or passing a school building or the grounds thereof, contiguous to a highway and posted with a standard "SCHOOL" warning sign, while children are going to or leaving the school either during school hours or during the noon recess period. The prima facie limit shall also apply when approaching or passing any school grounds which are not separated from the highway by a fence, gate or other physical barrier while the grounds are in use by children and the highway is posted with a standard "SCHOOL" warning sign. For purposes of this subparagraph, standard "SCHOOL" warning signs may be placed at any distance up to 500 feet away from school grounds.