Accelerating to 55 miles per hour, you cruise down the road without a care in the world, leaving the suburbs of Florida for the open road. It’s a beautiful day for a drive. The engine roars as the car speeds up and carries you to that quintessential American freedom.

Then the flashing lights come on behind you, and a police officer pulls out into the road. Confused, you hit your brakes and come to a stop right in front of a speed limit sign with “55” clearly written on it.

The officer walks up to your window and asks you if you know how fast you were going. You confirm that you do. He then asks if you know what the speed limit is. You point at the sign and shrug, saying that clearly it is a 55 mph zone and you set your speed at exactly 55 mph. You have no idea why you got pulled over.

Then the officer points back behind you. In the distance is another speed limit sign. You can’t read it at that distance, but he tells you it says “30 mph.” You were going 25 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Changing zones

Speed zones often change as you move to different parts of the same road. In your case, as you drove through the suburbs and the residential area, the limit stayed at 30. As you left the suburbs behind, it increased to 55. That’s the sign in front of your car.

However, just being able to read the sign does not mean the limit has changed. It changes exactly where the sign sits. Everything in front of the sign remains under the old limit. Everything after it falls under the new limit.

Like you, many people speed up when they know they’re switching to a higher limit. Your car can’t instantly jump from one speed to the next. You started speeding up in advance so that you would be going 55 miles per hour when you hit the new zone.

Instead, you are supposed to go 30 miles per hour until you pass the sign, and then you can speed up to the new limit. Doing anything else means breaking the law. The police officer had a right to pull you over. Remember, speed limit changes do not include buffer zones or gray areas. They strictly change right at the signs.

Your rights

Of course, simple mistakes like this can lead to serious violations when you really thought you followed the law properly. This can result in fines, points on your license and many other issues. Make sure you understand your rights and your legal options.