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Idaho Has Legal Loophole Big Enough To Drive A Speeding Car Through

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
File photo of Highway 95 in north Idaho.

According to the Idaho Supreme Court, an apparent error in Idaho’s legal code could make certain highway speed limits unenforceable.

The judges are asking lawmakers to fix the problem after some speeding tickets were tossed out.

On most Idaho highways, the speed limit is 65. Idaho’s law recognizes that. But in some places, the state has decided to lower the speed limit to 55, say, or 45.

It turns out that Idaho law still says the speed limit is 65.

“What’s missing is the ‘unless otherwise posted’ language,” said Michael Henderson, legal counsel for the Idaho Supreme Court. He told a House panel the same problem exists for interstates, where speed limits lower than 75 appear to be unenforceable.

Henderson said the loophole came to the state Supreme Court’s attention after a magistrate judge reluctantly dismissed a speeding infraction in Boundary county. State police say other tickets have been reversed in Boise and Bannock counties.

“We’re trying to stop the confusion before it spreads,” Henderson said.

It might be too late though. As Rep. Steven Harris said with a chuckle, “Just to be clear: So we don’t pass this. We can speed without being caught?”

But it looks like the loophole may only survive until July. The bill is rapidly moving through the legislature.

Henderson said the omission is only on speeding laws that apply to interstates and state highways. Idaho code does account for posted speed limits in residential neighborhoods, business districts and urban areas.