May 23, 2013


Diane M. Fremgen

Clerk of Court of Appeals







This opinion is subject to further editing.  If published, the official version will appear in the bound volume of the Official Reports. 


A party may file with the Supreme Court a petition to review an adverse decision by the Court of Appeals.  See Wis. Stat. § 808.10 and Rule 809.62. 





Appeal No. 


Cir. Ct. No.  2012TR4673









Dane County,






Jeffrey K. Crossfield,






            APPEAL from a judgment of the circuit court for Dane County:  ELLEN K. BERz, Judge.  Affirmed. 

1        KLOPPENBURG, J.[1]   Jeffrey K. Crossfield appeals a judgment of conviction, after a jury trial, for driving fifteen miles per hour over the posted speed limit in violation of Dane County Ordinance 69.01, adopting Wis. Stat. § 346.57(5).  On appeal, Crossfield argues that the posted thirty-five mile per hour speed limit is invalid and that the circuit court improperly excluded as irrelevant any evidence relating to the ordinance’s establishment.  I affirm for the reasons stated below.


2        On February 23, 2012, Dane County Deputy James Hodges cited Crossfield with speeding in the Town of Westport.  Crossfield pleaded not guilty and the case proceeded to a jury trial.  Deputy Hodges and Pamela Dunphy, an Assistant Commissioner with the Dane County Highway and Transportation Department, testified at trial.  Crossfield does not dispute Deputy Hodges’ trial testimony that:  Hodges observed Crossfield driving on County Highway Q; Hodges’ laser reading of Crossfield’s vehicle’s speed was fifty miles per hour; and the posted speed limit was thirty-five miles per hour.  During trial, the circuit court struck Dunphy’s testimony on Crossfield’s direct examination and David Crossfield’s testimony pursuant to its ruling that evidence concerning “the establishment of the ordinance, including ... the studies that were done, the measurements that were taken, the businesses or homes which are in the area” was irrelevant.  The jury found Crossfield guilty of speeding in excess of the posted speed limit as charged in the citation.[2]  Crossfield now appeals.


3        On appeal, Crossfield does not dispute that he was driving in excess of the speed limit.  Rather, Crossfield’s primary arguments concern the validity of the speed limit, and the circuit court’s exclusion of evidence at trial as to the establishment of the ordinance enacting the speed limit.

4        Crossfield appears to argue that the location of his violation (Highway Q, north of Briggs Road, in the Town of Westport) does not meet the conditions for a fixed limit of thirty-five miles per hour under Wis. Stat. § 346.57.  First, he argues that the fixed speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour set forth in Wis. Stat. § 346.57(4)(f) does not apply because, at the location of Crossfield’s violation, Highway Q is located in the Town of Westport, not “within the corporate limits of a city or village.”  Second, Crossfield appears to argue that the fixed speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour set forth in § 346.57(4)(g) does not apply because that part of Highway Q in question cannot be classified as a “semiurban district” according to Crossfield’s map admitted as Exhibit 2.[3]  Crossfield asserts that, because neither fixed limit applies, the speed limit “reverts” to fifty-five miles per hour under § 346.57(4)(h). 

5        Assuming without deciding that Crossfield has not waived this argument (as asserted by the County), and also assuming without deciding that the fixed limits of thirty-five miles per hour in Wis. Stat. § 346.57(4)(f) and (g) do not apply, Crossfield’s argument remains without merit, because official signs gave Crossfield notice of the thirty-five-mile-per-hour speed limit. 

6        Wisconsin Stat. § 346.57(4) plainly states that the relevant presumptive fixed limits apply “unless different limits are indicated by official traffic signs.”  A local authority, such as the Dane County Highway and Transportation Department, has the authority to “determine and declare a reasonable and safe speed limit,” whenever it determines “upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that any statutory speed limit is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist upon any part of a highway or that the actual speed of vehicles upon any part of a highway is greater or less than is reasonable and prudent.”  Wis. Stat. § 349.11(1)(a).  Furthermore, “[w]hen appropriate signs giving notice of such speed limit have been erected and are in place, such speed limit shall be effective at all times.”  Wis. Stat. § 349.11(1)(a).

7        Here, during the County’s direct examination, Dunphy testified that the speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour was “reviewed and accepted as a speed zone ordinance by the County Board” and that “the speed limit was posted correctly with official signs and at the right distance.”  While the fixed limits set forth in Wis. Stat. § 346.57(4)(f) and (g) may not have applied, the County “determine[d] and declare[d]” thirty-five miles per hour as “a reasonable and safe speed limit” and gave notice of such using official signs.  Wis. Stat. § 349.11(1)(a).  Contrary to Crossfield’s assertion, a speed limit of fifty-five miles per hour did not apply, as such a fixed limit applies only “[i]n the absence of ... the posting of limits as required or authorized by law.”  Wis. Stat. § 346.57(4)(h). 

8        In sum, while Crossfield may disagree with the posted speed limit, the County has exercised its statutory authority in determining the speed limit for Highway Q in the Town of Westport, and pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 349.11(1)(a), the speed limit, as noted on official signs, is effective at all times.  Crossfield cannot challenge his speeding citation on the grounds that he disagrees with the speed limit adopted in the local authority’s discretion.  It follows that the circuit court properly excluded as irrelevant any evidence as to the information that local authorities may have obtained to “determine and declare a reasonable and safe speed limit” under § 349.11(1)(a), including studies undertaken, measurements that were taken, and businesses or homes in the area. 


9        Based on the foregoing, I affirm the judgment.

            By the Court.—Judgment affirmed.

            This opinion will not be published.  See Wis. Stat. rule 809.23(1)(b)4.




[1]  This appeal is decided by one judge pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 752.31(2)(g) (2011-12).  All references to the Wisconsin Statutes are to the 2011-12 version unless otherwise noted.

[2]  See State v. Schneck, 2002 WI App 239, ¶15, 257 Wis. 2d 704, 652 N.W.2d 434 (noting that although Wis. Stat. ch. 345 forfeiture proceedings are civil proceedings, such proceedings have certain aspects of criminal proceedings). 

[3] Wisconsin Stat. § 346.57(1)(b) defines a “[s]emiurban district” as “the territory contiguous to and including any highway where on either side of the highway within any 1,000 feet along such highway the buildings in use for business, industrial or residential purposes fronting thereon average not more than 200 feet apart or where the buildings in use for such purposes fronting on both sides of the highway considered collectively average not more than 200 feet apart.”  Crossfield’s Exhibit 2 sets forth measurements pursuant to this definition but does not depict any “buildings in use for business, industrial or residential purposes” by which to assess the applicability of this definition.