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3.7-4  Statutory Negligence - Slow Speed

Revised to January 1, 2008

We have a statute that provides that no person shall operate a motor vehicle at a speed lower than forty miles per hour on any limited access divided highway.  No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any other highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.  This statute is not violated when 1) reduced speed is necessary for safe operation of a motor vehicle, 2) in the event of an emergency, 3) when the speed of the motor vehicle is in compliance with the law, or 4) when the motor vehicle is operated in compliance with the direction of an officer.  The plaintiff has the burden of proving, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant has violated this statute.


General Statutes 14-220 (a).


Only the portions of this charge raised by the evidence in the case should be given.  The Supreme Court has stated that the meaning of the statute, "in many not unlikely applications, is obscure."  Mancaniello v. Guile, 154 Conn. 381, 387 (1966).  The question of whether the four enumerated exceptions (for safe operation, emergency, compliance with the law, and direction of an officer) are affirmative defenses has not been definitively answered.  Mancaniello suggests that they are not.  The defendant in that case did not file an affirmative defense, and the court did not criticize that fact.   The court instead held that the plaintiff's request to charge was deficient because it did not mention the applicable statutory exceptions supported by the evidence.  Id., 386.  "[T]he mere fact that a party is required to prove a negative does not mandate that the burden of proof regarding that issue shifts to the opposing party."  Northeast Enterprises v. Water Pollution Control Authority, 26 Conn. App. 540, 544-45 n.4 (1992).


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