State Traffic and Speed Laws

Introduction

This page contains a summary of and links to state laws related to speeding, and in particular excess speeding and reckless driving.

Contents: table of laws, explanation of table, types of speed limits, laws giving official tolerance to minor speeding, law related to radar detectors and jammers, other sources.

The state name is a link to the traffic laws of the state, or maybe to the general legislative information page, or maybe to the state home page. If the state doesn't have useful information online or I got tired of typing there is no link. If there is a link in the "limit" column it points to information about speed limits in the state: a summary I wrote, the relevant law, or an official DOT web page. For some states I have included links to an online driver's manual. These manuals are not laws and may contain incorrect statements of law. If you have CSS enabled in your browser, the more anti-speed laws should show up with red borders.

See also the "keep right" law list. Many states have laws requiring vehicles to slow to 20 MPH below the speed limit when passing a stopped emergency vehicle; see the shadomoon2000 and acambre "move over" law lists (external sites).

State Speed Laws

State Traffic Laws
StateLimit RecklessLawComments
Alabama (70) - 32-5A-190, 32-5A-171 Laws.
Alaska (65) - 28.35.040, 13 AAC 002.275 See also Alaska Statutes, Alaska Administrative Code.
Arizona 75 * 85 / +20 28-693, 28-701, 28-701.02 Driver License Manual. Comments. A bill to raise the speed limit to 80 failed in the last legislative session.
Arkansas (70) (+15) 27-50-308, 27-51-201 Motor Vehicle Information
California 70 * (100) VC §§22348(b), 22352 Driver Handbook. State Law prohibits certain kinds of speed traps.
Colorado 75 * +25 42-4-1101, 42-4-1401, 42-4-1402
Connecticut 65 * 85 14-222, 14-218a, 14-219 Title 14, Driver's Manual.
Delaware (65) - 21-4168, 21-4175 21-701(c) limits local police authority on state highways
District of Columbia (50) +30 DC Code 50-2201.04 Point System
Florida 70 - 316.192, 316.183, 316.187 318.18(3)(b) requires warnings for speeding 5 or less over the limit outside a school zone. Driver Handbook
Georgia 70 - 40-6-390, 40-6-180 to 189 6 points for +35, 0 for driving too fast for conditions (40-5-57). No fine for speeding five MPH or less over the limit: 40-6-1, "super speeder" surcharge for high speeds.
Hawaii (60) 80 / +30 291-2, 291C-101, 291C-102 +15 punished as speeding but is worth 3-6 points, the same as reckless driving. Since January 1, 2007 +30 or 80 is a misdemeanor with a requirement for 2-5 days in jail or 36 hours of community service.
Idaho 75 - 49-1401, 49-654 Point System. Interactive map including speed limits. A 2005 bill to allow speed limits up to 75 MPH on all state highways did not pass.
Illinois 65 +30 625 ILCS 5/11-503, 5/11-601 Illinois Compiled Statutes, Rules of the Road manual.
Indiana (70) - 9-21-5, 9-21-8-52 Driver's License manual. Purdue Traffic Speed Data.
Iowa 70 (+25) 321.277, 321.285 Driver's Manual. License suspension possible for +25. A bill would increase the speed limit on two lane roads from 55 to 60. Traffic And Safety FAQ.
Kansas 75 - 8-1558, 8-1566 Kansas Statutes. Speeding less than 10 over in a 55-75 zone doesn't go on a driver's record (8-1560d and 8-1560c).
Kentucky 70 (+26) 189.290, 189.390 Point system (regulations allow 90 day suspension for 26 or more over the limit). Out of state speeding tickets don't count (186.570(5)). 70 mile per hour speed limits went into effect in 2007.
Louisiana (70) ? §§32:61-32:64 OMV. In April, 2011 DoTD announced that the I-49 speed limit would increase to 75. (story)
Maine 65 +30 29A §2413, 29A §2074 75 on north end of I-95 starting September, 2011 (PL 2011, c. 415)
Maryland 65 - 21-801.1, 21-901.1 Point system is 16-402, 16-404.
Massachusetts (65) * - Ch. 90 §17, Ch. 90 §24 Online driving manual.
Michigan 70 * - 257.626, 257.627-257.633 Driving publications and forms
Minnesota (70) * (100) 169.14, 169.13 Speed limit maps. Speeding cars lose the right of way at intersections, 169.20. Six month license revocation for speeding over 100 miles per hour, 171.17(10).
Mississippi 70 - 63-3-501, 63-3-1201
Missouri 70 (+20) 304.010, 304.012 Showing their priorities, Missouri law puts the "director of revenue" in charge of the license point system. Driver's Guide.
Montana 75 - 61-8-301, 61-8-303 Road Conditions
Nebraska 75 - 60-6,213, 60-6,186
Nevada 75 - 484.377, 484.361
New Hampshire 65 * - 265:79, 265:60 "Live free or die", but not faster than 65 MPH. 30 over the limit while drunk is aggravated DUI.
New Jersey (65) - 39:4-96, 39:4-98 20 over the limit is an aggravating factor in a fatal accident (39:5-30(b)(1) and (e)(1)). Point system. Driver's Manual.
New Mexico 75 (+26) 66-8-113, 66-7-301 +26 in a residential zone or while also exceeding 75 MPH is 8 points, for which a license may be suspended. No points for speeding in rural areas (more than two miles from corporate limits), except for heavy trucks.
New York 65 (+30) Traffic law §1180, 1212, 1643 The law permits a 15 day jail sentence for 11 MPH over the speed limit. State police traffic stops by marked cars only. Bicycle laws.
North Carolina 70 80 / +15 20-16.1, 20-141 Driver's Handbook. Mandatory 30 day suspension for +15
North Dakota (75) (+36) 39-08-03, 39-09-02 Road conditions. +36 in a 70 or 75 MPH zone or +46 elsewhere is 12 points, enough for a 7 day license suspension. A 2005 bill to allow 60 MPH speed limits on county roads did not pass.
Ohio 65 * - 4511.20, 4511-21 Speed limit is 70 on Turnpike. Marked car law, 4549-13. Speed zoning policy.
Oklahoma (75) - 47-11-901, 47-11-801 Tickets for less than 10 over the limit are not reported (47-18-101(B)(2)).
Oregon (65) * (85/+30) 811.109, 811.140 Embracing another while driving is illegal, 811.190. Driver Manual, Speed zoning information, speed zoning manual. Oregon DOT decided not to implement a law allowing Interstate speed limits to be raised to 70.
Pennsylvania 65 (+30) 75 §3362, 75 §3736 Driver's Manual, PA Turnpike, speed limit standards. Mandatory license suspension for +11 in a work zone.
Puerto Rico 65 - T. 9 § 5122, T. 9 § 5128
Rhode Island (65) P - 31-14
South Carolina (70) (+25) 56-5-11
South Dakota 75 - 32-24, 32-25 Driver License Manual, Point System (no points for speeding). Senate Bill 208 allowing 70 MPH speed limits on the state's few rural four lane non-Interstate highways, has been signed by the Governor.
Tennessee 70 - 55-10-205, 55-8-152 Driver License Handbook. The Point System goes up to 8 points for 46 or more over the limit.
Texas 75 P - Transportation Code §545.352, §545.401 Speed zoning rules. Speed limit is 80 on I-10 and I-20 through most of West Texas.
Utah 75 P - 41-6a-601, 41-6a-528 It is a crime to disable an airbag, or not to repair a deployed airbag, 41-6a-1624. Per H.B. 406 of the 2008 session, a section of I-15 is posted 80. .
Vermont (65) +30 23/1091, 23/1081, 23/1097 Driver License Manual, Point System.
Virginia 70 80 / +20 46.2-862, 46.2-870 Failure to use turn signals is reckless driving. Speeding cars lose the right of way at intersections, 46.2-823. In recent years some judges have started sending people to jail for driving 90+ on an Interstate. Point system.
Washington 70 +1? 46.61.500, 46.61.400, 46.61.465 The law defining speeding to be reckless driving is not enforced. Online Driver's Guide. As in Oregon, "embracing another while driving" is illegal (reckless driving, 46.61.665). Is this a big problem in the northwest?
West Virginia (70) - 17C-5-3, 17C-6 Chapter 17C. Point system.
Wisconsin 65 (+25) 346.57, 346.62 Chapter 346 [PDF format, 328 KB]. 15 day license suspension for speeding +25 over a 55/65 MPH speed limit. Speeding +20 is 6 points, the same as DUI; see point system page.
Wyoming 75 - 31-5-301, 31-5-229 DOT

Key

Limit

The "limit" column lists the maximum speed limit in the state. In most states this maximum limit is set by law. Where state law allows for limits higher than currently posted the speed is listed in parentheses.

Almost all states have laws defining a speed limit that is in effect when no limit is posted. This default speed limit is called the "statutory speed limit". Except as noted below it is the same as the maximum speed limit.

Four states have no statutory speed limits on some categories of highways: Arkansas (controlled access highways), Hawaii (state highways, but 80 MPH state speed limit goes into effect in 2007), Vermont (Interstate highways), and West Virginia (controlled access highways). Alaska has no legislative statutory speed limit but the state DOT has established unposted speed limits by regulation. In these states the DOT could raise speed limits to any value that could be justified by an engineering study, or abolish speed limits entirely on the indicated classes of highway.

Some other states have statutory speed limits but permit that speed limit to be increased without bound by posting signs. States where increases have been posted are Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. As an exception, state law defines the speed limit to be 65 MPH on certain highways in Delaware and Massachusetts. States where the DOT has not used its authority to increase speed limits are Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Montana law allows limits speed zones to 50 miles in length, so although the limit could be increased above 75 it would not be possible to increase the limit on the Interstate system as a whole.

Several toll road authorities have greater power to raise speed limits than the state DOT. The Massachusetts Turnpike was not required to have any speed limit until 2010, when a merger into the state DOT probably made the Turnpike subject to the same speed laws as state highways. The Ohio Turnpike explicitly has the power to disregard state speed limits, ORC 5537.16, and has used this power to post a uniform 70 mph speed limit for cars and trucks. Pennsylvania law may allow the Pennsylvania Turnpike to eliminate speed limits, but prohibits speed limits above 65. Penn. C. S. Title 75 § 6110.

A few states permit the DOT to raise speed limits up to a legislatively-set maximum, only on freeways except as noted: California (65 to 70), Connecticut (55 to 65), Florida (55 to 60 on two lane roads and 70 on freeways), Maryland (55 to 65 on freeways and expressways), Mississippi (65 to 70), New York (55 to 65 on state highways), North Carolina (55 to 70), Oregon (65 to 70), Texas (70 to 75 on state highways in sparsely populated counties), Utah (65 to 75), Virginia (55 to 60 on certain divided highways, 65 on freeways, and 70 on I-85), and Washington (60 to 70 on any state highway).

Except in Texas and Alaska the maximum two lane speed limit is lower than the speed listed here: typically 65 in the west half of the country and 55 in the east.

Reckless

"Reckless" means the speed which the law defines to be reckless or which is subject to a substantially greater penalty than lesser speeding (not including fines). "+x" means "x over the limit". "80/+15" means either 80 MPH or 15 over the limit.

Numbers alone (in red if you have CSS enabled in your browser) mean the speed is defined as reckless driving or carries a substantial criminal penalty. Parenthesized numbers (in yellow) indicate lesser but still significant increases in the speeding penalty, such as a possible license suspension. "-" (in green) means the law does not define a particular speed as reckless.

In some states police have a threshold for reckless driving even though the law does not set one. I've heard a report that police in Minnesota consider speeding over 80 to be Driving to Endanger but will drop the criminal charge if the defendant requests a jury trial. Another driver says that Indiana police consider 25 over to be reckless; I have no information on the conviction rate there.

While Vermont generally considers +30 to be criminal excessive speeding, the law apparently does not apply on Interstate highways.

Law

"Law" is the law defining speeding and/or the law defining the speed noted in the "reckless" column.

Types Of Speed Limits

Absolute

Most states have adopted the speed limit language from the Uniform Vehicle Code, which sets absolute limits. That means exceeding the speed limit is illegal per se regardless of whether or not it is safe. These states are marked " A ".

Prima Facie

In Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah driving faster than the speed limit is prima facie evidence of unreasonable speed. One can argue in court that one was exceeding the speed limit but should not be convicted because the speed was safe (when they accept this argument, judges will likely want to see evidence beyond a defendant's claim that he was driving safely). These states are marked " P ".

Mixed

In several other states, there is a state absolute maximum speed and only limits below that are prima facie limits. State maximum speeds are 85 in Arizona, 75 in Colorado, 65 in New Hampshire and on freeways in California (unless posted 70) and Ohio, and 55 in Connecticut (unless posted 65), on two lane roads in California (unless posted higher), and on non-freeways in Ohio. Ohio freeway speed limits are absolute even if below 55. Oregon speed limits are absolute on Interstates and in cities and prima facie elsewhere. In Minnesota only municipal limits are absolute. In Michigan municipal limits are prima facie and state highway limits are absolute. Massachusetts limits are prima facie except on roads that belong to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority or the Metropolitan District Commission. These states are marked " * ".

This page does not list truck speed limits in general, but a noteworthy exception to the previous list is the 55 MPH absolute speed limit for trucks in California and Oregon.

Official Tolerance

Some states have laws providing that points are not assessed for minor speeding. On freeways in the daytime the tolerance is 5 MPH in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Wyoming; 10 MPH in Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Montana, and West Virginia; and 15 MPH in Georgia. South Dakota doesn't assess points for speeding. Minnesota (171.12(6)) and Arizona do not have points for speeding in some 55 zones. Ohio law prohibit points for speeding 10 miles per hour or less over a limit of 55 or higher, or 5 miles per hour or less over a speed limit below 55. Connecticut doesn't assess points for speeding less than 85 MPH if one pleads guilty by mail, but may revoke a license based on multiple convictions or guilty pleas notwithstanding the point total. Nevada doesn't assess points for speeding 5 or less over a 60-70 MPH limit in the daytime and outside of a county with a population greater than 100,000. New Mexico doesn't assess points for speeding 75 or less outside a residential zone, for speeding 5 or less over any limit, or for speeding in rural areas. Except in a work zone or school zone Pennsylvania doesn't allow radar or laser tickets for less than 6 over the limit (or less than 11 over a limit less than 55 MPH), and only State Police can use radar or laser. Except by the State Patrol, radar and VASCAR can't be used in Georgia to write a ticket for 10 or less over the limit outside a residential area or school zone.

Minnesota, Montana, Washington,and Wyoming allow drivers to exceed the speed limit while passing on two lane roads.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends that police tolerance never be less than 5 MPH. See 66 FR 29855 (``setting and enforcing rational speed limits'').

Some other state laws related to speed traps are available on the speedtrap.org site.

Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are illegal in cars in Virginia and the District Of Columbia. Radar jammers, and possibly other devices like IR-absorbing license plate covers, are explicitly illegal in California (VC §28150), Colorado (HB1045 effective July 1, 2005), the District of Columbia, Illinois (625 ILCS 5/12-613 effective January 1, 2006), Oklahoma (47-11-808), Minnesota (169.14(12)), Nebraska (60-6.275), Utah (41-6a-609), and Virginia (46.2-1079). The FCC claims even "passive" radar jammers are illegal under federal law; see their 1997 opinion and order in the Rocky Mountain Radar case. This order was affirmed by the tenth circuit court of appeals in October, 1998 (Rocky Mountain Radar v. FCC, 158 F.3d 1118; cert. denied 119 S. Ct. 1045 (1999)).

To convict a driver of exceeding a speed limit, a visual estimate of speed must be supported by radar or some other speed measuring device in Nebraska (60-6,192(1)) and Pennsylvania (75 PA C.S. 3368). Lack of corroborating evidence does not prevent police from charging reckless driving, driving too fast for conditions, or any other offense other than speeding.

Ohio has the same rule. The state Supreme Court resolved a disagreement among intermediate appeals court by abolishing the rule in 2010. The legislature reinstated the rule in HB 86 of the 2011-2012 session.

A Virginia law requiring police to show drivers the reading on the radar gun has been repealed.

Other sources

Cornell law school has links to state statutes. See also the NHTSA speed law site. Two formerly useful sites seem to be dormant: States' Attitudes Toward Speed Limits, and Guide to Traffic Laws. The NCASL site (and the NCASL) appears to be dead too. For information about pending legislation, see the National Motorists Association news page.

Some state law sites were found using the Washburn University State Law page. The FindLaw State Resources page is also helpful.

If you're not willing to take a chance with the reckless driving laws but still want to see what it's like to go fast, check out the Speedo Pics page. If you are willing to take a chance, the University Of Oklahoma has some advice.

Corrections and comments to John Carr.

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Last modified December 25, 2012 (Fixed Florida links)