Michigan’s Public Act 85, which requires municipalities to study traffic patterns in order to assess appropriate speed limits, poses an interesting legal predicament. Because the law was passed in 2006 but has not yet been implemented by many cities – including Hamtramck — the legality of some speeding tickets that have since been issued should come into question.
While we at The Review are not scholars of law, it seems to us that a ticket issued in an area that has not yet been studied, but which is found to have excessively low speed limits after it is studied, may in fact be illegal. If a municipality has not complied with a law that was passed four years ago which would nullify a crime today, then it appears that the city is the party in violation of the law and not the driver.
An example of this scenario involves tickets issued to drivers after November of 2006 for “speeding” on the I-75 service drive in Hamtramck. If a study proves that the current speed limit is too low, Public Act 85 would mandate that the speed be changed to reflect the actual driving conditions of the road. But had the study been conducted when the law was initially passed in 2006, the ticket would have never been issued in the first place.
Whether or not our interpretation of this law is correct, it should be examined for more clarity and understanding. Moreover, the fact that it was passed four years ago and many cities have not complied with it is indicative of either a serious statewide breakdown in communication between Lansing and local municipalities or the intentional refusal to obey the law by financially-strapped cities seeking to generate revenue through traffic tickets.
Regardless of the reason for the lack of compliance, it seems clear that drivers should not be responsible for a violation that a state-mandated action would have made legal years ago.