California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

707. Speed Limit (Veh. Code, § 22352)

The speed limit where the accident occurred was [insert number] miles per hour.

The speed limit is a factor to consider when you decide whether or not [name of plaintiff/name of defendant] was negligent. A driver is not necessarily negligent just because he or she was driving faster than the speed limit. However, a driver may be negligent even if he or she was driving at or below the speed limit.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • The prima facie speed limits are set by Vehicle Code section 22352.
  • Vehicle Code section 40831 provides: “In any civil action proof of speed in excess of any prima facie limit declared in Section 22352 at a particular time and place does not establish negligence as a matter of law but in all such actions it shall be necessary to establish as a fact that the operation of a vehicle at the excess speed constituted negligence.”
  • A party is entitled to an instruction that the prima facie speed limit is a factor for the jury to consider in making its negligence determination. (Hardin v. San Jose City Lines, Inc. (1953) 41 Cal.2d 432, 439 [260 P.2d 63].)
  • “The mere driving of an automobile in excess of the speed limit does not show negligence as a matter of law. The jury was free to find [defendant] not guilty of negligence even if they found that he was exceeding the speed limit.” (Williams v. Cole (1960) 181 Cal.App.2d 70, 74 [5 Cal.Rptr. 24], internal citations omitted.)
  • The burden of proving negligence in a civil action is on the party charging negligence, and even if such party has established speed in excess of the applicable prima facie limit the party must establish negligence under the circumstances. (Faselli v. Southern Pacific Co. (1957) 150 Cal.App.2d 644, 648 [310 P.2d 698].)
  • “Even though the Texaco truck was traveling at a speed less than the maximum specified in the Vehicle Code, the reasonableness of its speed was a question of fact under all the circumstances, and circumstances may make travel at a speed less than the maximum rate a negligent operation of a motor vehicle.” (Scott v. Texaco, Inc. (1966) 239 Cal.App.2d 431, 436–437 [48 Cal.Rptr. 785], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 878

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 4.18

2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.63[2][c], [4] (Matthew Bender)

8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 82, Automobiles: Causes of Action, § 82.10 (Matthew Bender)