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Forum News Service, Published June 20 2013

Speeding ticket overturned due to obscured sign

MADISON, Wis. - When the city of Superior is required to post a speed limit sign, it can’t be enforced unless motorists are able to see it, a state appeals court ruled this week in dismissing a traffic ticket.

The District III Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a ruling by Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Thimm, who ordered Justin Bachinski to pay $175 after being clocked at 44 mph in a 25 mph zone on State Highway 35.

Police Officer Adam Zielinski issued Bachinski a citation last July for the minimum 10 mph over the speed limit.

Bachinski, 23, of Superior, contested the ticket before Thimm and presented three photographs of a tree branch obscuring the speed limit sign. Bachinski argued that it would be unfair to hold motorists responsible if they couldn’t see the sign.

The city countered that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices provision that signs not be obscured was a recommendation, not mandatory, and Bachinski’s citation was valid.

Thimm agreed the shrubbery obscured the sign but since maintenance wasn’t mandatory, he found Bachinski guilty of speeding.

On appeal, Bachinski’s attorney, David Kropid, argued that state statutes require the city to post the speed limit sign and it must remain legible, and the District III court agreed.