"Q: An Everett woman -- let's just identify her by the initials R.T. -- wants to get the word out about a traffic frustration: school-zone speed limits.
"I was given a ticket for going 30 (mph) in a school zone," she confessed. "The sign said 20 when children are present. Well, there weren't any children present. I contested it, but according to the judge, it doesn't matter if there are children present.
"Upon investigation, I have found that the law states that one must go 20 when within 300 feet of a school, whether or not there are children present. So that makes all those signs fraudulent."
R.T. says a co-worker had a similar experience in a construction zone. "He wasn't going the posted slower speed since it was a Sunday and no one was working. The sign had said 30 when construction workers are present. He was pulled over and given a ticket as well."
A: This column has reported before the state law (RCW 46.61.440), that specifies 20 mph in a school zone. But the issue may not be so cut and dried.
School districts have jurisdiction over their posted speed signs. And signs can say different things in different jurisdictions. Some specify "when children are present." Some say "when lights are flashing." Some specify certain hours of the day.
To his knowledge, there's not a national standard for school speed limits, said Brian Jones of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
"The state's preference is to have all districts install flashing lights with signs for 20 mph when flashing," he said. So, over the past 18 months or so, school districts have been receiving state grant money for new speed signs and lighting in school zones.
But uniformity is not a done deal. And, as R.T. can attest, when it comes to interpretation of the law, courts still have the last word."So go 20 mph or risk a ticket...even on a Sunday.