WASHINGTON STATE'S SCHOOL ZONE LAWS
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Washington State's School Zone Laws.
Maximum speed limit when passing school or playground crosswalks — Penalty, disposition of proceeds.
(1) Subject to RCW 46.61.400(1), and except in those instances where a lower maximum lawful speed is provided by this chapter or otherwise, it shall be unlawful for the operator of any vehicle to operate the same at a speed in excess of twenty miles per hour when operating any vehicle upon a highway either inside or outside an incorporated city or town when passing any marked school or playground crosswalk when such marked crosswalk is fully posted with standard school speed limit signs or standard playground speed limit signs. The speed zone at the crosswalk shall extend three hundred feet in either direction from the marked crosswalk.
(2) A county or incorporated city or town may create a school or playground speed zone on a highway bordering a marked school or playground, in which zone it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle at a speed in excess of twenty miles per hour. The school or playground speed zone may extend three hundred feet from the border of the school or playground property; however, the speed zone may only include area consistent with active school or playground use.
(3) A person found to have committed any infraction relating to speed restrictions within a school or playground speed zone shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended.
(4) The school zone safety account is created in the custody of the state treasurer. Fifty percent of the moneys collected under subsection (3) of this section shall be deposited into the account. Expenditures from the account may be used only by the Washington traffic safety commission solely to fund projects in local communities to improve school zone safety, pupil transportation safety, and student safety in school bus loading and unloading areas. Only the director of the traffic safety commission or the director's designee may authorize expenditures from the account. The account is subject to allotment procedures under chapter 43.88 RCW, but no appropriation is required for expenditures until July 1, 1999, after which date moneys in the account may be spent only after appropriation.
[2003 c 192 § 1; 1997 c 80 § 2; 1996 c 114 § 1; 1975 c 62 § 34; 1963 c 16 § 5; 1961 c 12 § 46.48.023. Prior: 1951 c 28 § 9; 1949 c 196 § 6, part; 1947 c 200 § 8, part; 1937 c 189 § 64, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 6360-64, part; 1927 c 309 § 3, part; 1923 c 181 § 6, part; 1921 c 96 § 27, part; 1917 c 155 § 16, part; 1915 c 142 § 24, part; RRS § 6362-3, part; 1909 c 249 § 279, part; Rem. & Bal. § 2531, part. Formerly RCW 46.48.023.]
Effective date -- 1996 c 114: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [March 20, 1996]." [1996 c 114 § 2.]
Severability -- 1975 c 62: See note following RCW 36.75.010.
School safety advocate caught speeding in school zone
Betsy Z. Russell
April 10, 2008
Note from the Law Offices of Jason S. Newcombe.
The hypocrisy in this world is sometimes simply astonishing. Although this happened in Idaho and not Washington State, you may find this amusing. I did.
BOISE – Oops.
Sen. John Goedde, sponsor of the bill to sharply increase Idaho’s fines for speeding in school zones, was caught speeding in a Boise-area school zone on Feb. 28 – the very day his bill was being debated in the state Senate.
“There was some irony there,” Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, acknowledged Wednesday after news surfaced of his $141.50 speeding ticket.
The legislation, Senate Bill 1361a, sets the minimum fine for school-zone speed violations at $75, plus $41.50 in court costs, for a total of $116.50. Local ordinances still could set higher fines – and Boise is one city that’s passed such an ordinance.
“That certainly got my attention,” Goedde said. “It made me a lot more cognizant of looking at school zone signs.” (my emphasis)
Not that he’s complaining. “I think kids deserve to be protected in those areas, and I made a mistake and I deserved to pay the fine,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The fourth-term senator was headed down Boise’s busy Broadway Avenue, taking his fiancée to the airport, when he stopped at the intersection with Boise Avenue, which also is the site of one of Boise’s oldest elementary schools, Garfield Elementary. Goedde didn’t see the flashing lights suspended high above the multi-lane road that warn of the school zone.
“So I pulled away from the stoplight when the light turned green, and I saw a police officer on a motorcycle with radar,” he recalled. “I looked and I was going 32, and I thought I was going 32 in a 35, there’s nothing wrong with this.” But, he said, “He pulled in behind me and pulled me over.”
By that time, Goedde was out of the school zone, but at the officer’s prompting, he looked back and saw the flashing lights over the road. That school zone was in effect whenever the lights were flashing.
Goedde’s bill was first introduced in the Legislature on Jan. 30, but it didn’t win final passage until the session’s next-to-last day, April 1. The bill was amended twice, once in the Senate and then again in the House. When it passed the House, it was on a narrow 37-26 vote, but much of the debate centered on something of a side issue, the definition of “when children are present.”
Current Idaho law makes school speed zones effective in accordance with whatever signage is posted. Local government engineers determine what those signs say, whether they say enhanced penalties are in effect “when children are present,” when lights are flashing, or during certain days or hours.
Some lawmakers expressed concern that the “when children are present” option might lead to speeding tickets for folks driving past a near-empty schoolyard at night or on a weekend, with a couple of kids out on the playground or sledding in the back field. But Goedde said, “The fact is, that’s the way it is right now. … So we didn’t even try to change that.”
The bill did make one change in the definition, however, in response to a North Idaho case in which a judge tossed out a speeding ticket because only one child was present in the vicinity of the motorist at the time, and signs said the zone was in effect when “children” were present. The bill says one child meets the definition of “children.”
Goedde said one reason the bill took so long to pass had nothing to do with the bill. “Part of the problem was that that bill had the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee as a co-sponsor, and at that particular time in the session, it made it subject to being held hostage while other bills worked their way through,” he said. The House and Senate at that time were locked in debate over unrelated transportation issues.
Having passed both houses, the measure is now awaiting Gov. Butch Otter’s signature.