School zone speeds: What does the law say?

WARD (KATV) -On Wednesday we told you about a slew of tickets issued by police in the town of Ward.

The offense? Speeding in a school zone.

We heard from several people after that story aired questioning those tickets. Several factors must be true in order for a police officer to ticket you for speeding in a school zone.Since school starts on Monday for most students in Arkansas, we thought this would be a good time to look at this issue.Back on May 21st, five drivers traveling past Ward Central elementary school were ticketed for speeding.A week later, on May 28th, four more speeding tickets were issued. 14 speeding tickets were written in May...and many of those motorists don't feel they were deserved.Here is what the law says: "No person shall operate a motor vehicle in excess of 25 miles per hour when passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building."At Ward Central elementary, the school day officially starts at 7:50 in the morning and ends at 3:20 pm. 11 of the 14 tickets were issued before or after these official school hours. Under a strict interpretation of "during school hours," those tickets could be challenged.Of course children are outside well before school starts and after it ends. Busses are loading and unloading children for at least 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon. Add that time to the official school day and only four tickets are still in question...all issued around 4:00 pm. There have been legislative efforts to better define what "during school hours" and "when children are present" mean...but they have not become law. Since gray area remains in school speed zones, it may be best to take the advice of Cabot's superintendent next week and slow down...all day school zones. Air date: August 15th, 2014