Man learns law not what he thought

Published 9:19 am Friday, July 10, 2015

A Mocksville man who relied on a memory of a lesson from driver’s education found out last week the law is not as he thought.

Steven M. Courtney, 22, was driving a Dodge Intrepid on US 158 near Webb Road just after 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7, on his way home from working out of state. Two cars were headed toward him; the second one was an unmarked NC Highway Patrol car operated by Trooper E.M. Stone.

As Stone approached Courtney, he visually estimated Courtney’s rate of speed to be 60 mph, which was confirmed by use of radar, Stone testified in Davie District Court July 3.

Courtney, who represented himself, testified he was “tired and exhausted” after working in West Virginia and was in a rush to get home to family and friends. He admitted he was going faster than he should have in the 45 mph zone, but added: “Everyone speeds down that hill.”

Courtney said he was in sight of the 55 mph sign.

“I remember my teacher, Jeremy Byrd, telling us in driver’s ed that when you are approaching a higher speed limit sign, you can go ahead and speed up so you are traveling that speed when you get into that zone,” Courtney told Judge Jimmy Myers.

Courtney also said by the time he met Stone, he was in the 55 mph zone.

Myers asked: “Do you think he clocked you before you reached the 55 mph zone?” and Courtney said it was possible.

Myers said: “Even if the law was you could start speeding when you see the sign, you were still traveling 60 mph, and that is not the speed limit there.”

Myers reduced the charge of speeding 60 in a 45 to exceeding a safe speed. He was given a prayer for judgment continued on cost.

NC Trooper C.D. Hall said no matter what is taught in driver’s education classes, the law is once the vehicle is past the sign, then it is lawful to go the speed indicated on the sign. It is illegal to speed up before reaching the sign, even if it is in sight.