Pinellas County Schools are back in session, and with the beginning of a new academic year comes the re-opening of school zones. There are 141 public schools in Pinellas County, and each one has a corresponding school zone where the speed limit is 15 mph. The St. Pete Times recently reported that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up their enforcement of speed limits in school zones in the morning and afternoon.
Florida Statute 316.1895 allows for school zone speed limits to be enforced 30 minutes before and after the school's scheduled beginning and end time. Which means that, because elementary, middle, and high schools have staggered start and end times in Pinellas County, the range of times in which these speed limits are put into effect will vary. Additionally, a result of these staggered start and end times it means that school zone speed limits are in effect for a good portion of the day throughout the county.
If your commute involves passing through a school zone, it would be wise to allow for extra driving time and be on the lookout for kids standing on curbs or near busy intersections, because the fines for speeding in a school zone are hefty. The Clerk of the Circuit Court lists the fines as follows:
1 to 9 mph over the 15mph limit is $156
10 to 14mph over is $306
15 to 19mph over is $406
20 to 29mph over is $456
And if you drive 30mph over the posted 15mph speed limit, that’s 45mph or faster, you will be subjected to a mandatory court appearance and a high fine.
But...the possible traffic fines associated with the reopening of schools zones don't stop there. The omnipresence of school buses creates moving zones in which drivers can be issued fines for failing to stop. Florida Statute 316.172 provides that all motorists must stop for stopped school buses unless they are traveling in the opposite direction of a road that is divided by a median or barrier. The fine for failing to stop for a school bus that has extended its stop bar and activated its stop signs is $271. Additionally, if a motorist fails to stop for a stopped school bus and passes on the side where the entrance of the bus is located, a mandatory court date will accompany the $271 fine.
For the Police...It's Like Fishing in a Barrel
The presence of school zones and school buses create additional opportunities for officers to issue traffic citations. A hectic schedule, or ringing cell phone might be all it takes to momentarily distract your attention from a new school zone and hidden speed trap. With each new school year comes the heightened possibility for serious fines and points on your driver’s license. Speeding tickets are not always as straightforward as they may seem. With the ramifications of fines, points and increased insurance premiums it is important to fully understand traffic tickets and all of your options.
Call an experienced lawyer that knows the intricacies of moving violations and can provide you with the help you need.
If You Get a Traffic Ticket at a School Zone...We Can Help!
If you find yourself charged with any traffic ticket in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or other area of Pinellas County, we can help. We can carefully examine the facts and law associated with your charge. Our job is to devise a strategy that may lead to the best possible outcome. Call our office for a free consultation to discuss all of your options. (727) 578-0303
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