California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

708. Maximum Speed Limit (Veh. Code, §§ 22349, 22356)

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

New September 2003

Directions for Use

An instruction on maximum speed limits could be useful to help frame the issue for the jury. On the other hand, a specific instruction on the maximum speed limits may be unnecessary. In the event that there is sufficient evidence to support an instruction that one of the parties violated the maximum speed limit, the judge could give the negligence per se instructions while reciting the specific code section. In that event, the judge would not give an instruction on the basic speed law. (See Hargrave v. Winquist (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 916 [185 Cal.Rptr. 30].)

Sources and Authority

  • Two statutes set the maximum speed limit. Vehicle Code section 22349(a) sets the general maximum speed at 65 miles per hour, and section 22349(b) sets the basic maximum for two-lane, undivided highways at 55 miles per hour. Vehicle Code section 22356 sets the maximum speed at 70 miles per hour at selected locations.
  • Vehicle Code section 22400(a) states the “minimum speed law” and provides as follows: “No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law. No person shall bring a vehicle to a complete stop upon a highway so as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless the stop is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.”

Secondary Sources

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

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 4.17

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