A 2 lane road is enhanced, widened and expanded to 6 lanes. it goes through a small town. The previous speed limit on that road was 55 mph.

After the new road is finished the speed limit signs are taken down in preparation for the new speed study.

The police in this small town contend that the old speed limit of 55 mph is still in force. The say that because of the ordinance of that town is still on the books, they can still enforce it even though no speed limit signs are posted on the road.

The road is a named and numbered state highway.

According to Texas law, I see that it states this:

(b) Unless a special hazard exists that requires a slower speed for compliance with Section 545.351(b) , the following speeds are lawful:

(1) 30 miles per hour in an urban district on a street other than an alley and 15 miles per hour in an alley;

(2) except as provided by Subdivision (4), 70 miles per hour on a highway numbered by this state or the United States outside an urban district, including a farm-to-market or ranch-to-market road;

That road is a farm-to-market road.

This road is also one where there are not many driveways and would be considered to be outside of an urban district.

So what would the speed limit be on that road when there are no posted speed limit signs anywhere in that city on that road?

In Texas speeding is considered to be a class C misdemeanor criminal offense and is not a civil infraction. In Texas a trial by jury can be had for those offenses.

1 Answer 1


It would be the speed limit that a reasonable person would assume.

Such a person would see speed limit signs on the highway before it approaches the town (say 70 mph). Not seeing any other speed limit signs when entering/driving through the town, such a person would still look for signs of urban area (pedestrian crossings, bus stops etc.) — just in case they have missed a lower speed limit sign or it has been missing by accident.

Not seeing any signs of urban area, not seeing any lower speed limit signs and continuing to see the highway (even though with some driveways), a reasonable person would assume that the speed limit does not change i.e. stays at 70mph.

No reasonable person could know of "the ordinance of that town still on the books" that the police refers to. Given this, and also that the 55 mph signs were deliberately taken down, any reasonable judge would laugh the police out of the court room should they attempt to defend their enforcement of 55 mph.

  • 1
    Courts have frequently made exceptions to this for people who frequently travel the same roads and are aware of where signs are supposed to be. E.g. if you know there was supposed to be a stop sign there and it suddenly disappears because someone took it out with their car, you are still expected to stop and cannot use the "there was no stop sign" defense. I don't know if a court would apply that same reasoning to a speed limit sign, especially after a bunch of construction where it's reasonable that it might have changed. Just worth mentioning.
    – animuson
    Jun 16, 2019 at 1:15
  • 1
    @animuson Yes. A reasonable local driver would behave somewhat different to a reasonable stranger. But in this case the sign was removed intentionally by those authorised to remove it (vs. someone took it out with their car), so I would not expect the court to rule as if the latter happened.
    – Greendrake
    Jun 16, 2019 at 1:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .