Are school zone speed limits enforced when school is not in session during holiday's or vacations?

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By Rachelle Murcia

For this question, Jason, I had to ask Trooper Keith Leary with the Washington State Patrol.

This is what he said, “If you really wanted to argue this with someone I would assume the wording in paragraph 2 would allow the statue to be enforced whenever Kids are present on the playground after school and during weekends.

Although, the position we take (after talking to several troopers) we are not going to enforce the school zone law unless school is in session or it is posted for certain times of the day. Troopers use their common sense during enforcement.

A County or City police agency may have a different view. As a general rule we should always drive with extreme caution around schools all the time as we know the playgrounds and fields are being used even on the weekends and holidays…Also, if the school zone posted is only active while lights are flashing, this would indicate to the public an active school zone. When they are off, traffic could resume the normal posted speed limit.”

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RCW 46.61.440
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.

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