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Can You Go 5 Miles Over The Speed Limit?

Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

A common question among drivers is whether there’s an unspoken buffer zone that allows them to exceed the posted speed limit by a small margin, such as 5 miles per hour, without the risk of getting a ticket. Many motorists operate under the belief that there is a grace period over the legal limit where they are still considered to be driving within the bounds of the law. This belief has led to widespread assumptions about leniency when it comes to mild speeding.

However, the legality of going even 5 miles over the speed limit is not universally affirmed. Traffic laws differ by jurisdiction, and while some drivers report a tolerance for slight speeding, law enforcement officers have the authority to issue tickets for speeds any amount above the limit. The exact speed limit is established for reasons related to road safety, traffic flow, and environmental concerns. Moreover, certain conditions such as weather, visibility, and traffic can influence what is considered safe and legal, making the posted limit the definitive rule rather than a suggestion.

Understanding speed limits and how they are enforced can help motorists make better decisions and avoid unnecessary risks and penalties. While some may argue that going 5 miles over doesn’t significantly impact driving safety, it’s crucial to recognize that adherence to the speed limit contributes to the overall predictability and regulation of traffic movements, ultimately promoting safer roads for everyone.

Speed Limit Sign

Understanding Speed Limits

Speed limits are put in place to regulate traffic flow and enhance safety. They define the maximum speed vehicles may legally travel on specific roadways.

Definition and Purpose

A posted speed limit is the maximum speed considered safe for a particular area under ideal travel conditions. They serve multiple purposes—ensuring drivers travel at a uniform speed, reducing accidents, and improving road efficiency. Each applicable speed limit reflects both the design of the road and the risks associated with different areas, such as residential neighborhoods or school zones.

Variations by Region and Road Type

Speed limits are not uniform; they vary by region and the type of road. For instance, a maximum speed limit on an urban street will differ greatly from one on a rural highway. In some jurisdictions, traffic authorities set limits that 85% of drivers naturally adhere to during free-flowing conditions, aligning with the 85th percentile rule. This approach aims to conform to the average driver’s speed judgment in optimal conditions.

Road types that typically warrant different speed limits include:

Urban Streets: Often have lower limits to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

Rural Highways: Can accommodate higher limits due to less traffic interference.

School Zones: Reduced limits during school hours to ensure children’s safety.

Residential Areas: Limits are tailored to minimize noise and protect residents.

Local regulations and statutory limits inform the speed limits set, and signs are posted to inform drivers of the legal speeds they must adhere to.

Legal Consequences of Speeding

When it comes to exceeding speed limits, drivers can face a range of penalties from fines to more severe consequences for serious offenses. Enforcement methods and penalties can vary by state, but they typically follow similar principles.

Speeding Violation Penalties

Speeding is often categorized as an infraction that comes with fines which may range depending on how much over the speed limit a driver is operating their vehicle. For example, fines can span from approximately $25 to several hundred dollars.

In addition to financial penalties, states may also assess points against a driver’s license, which can affect insurance rates and lead to license suspension if too many points are accumulated. For instance, under the Illinois Vehicle Code, the state determines how many points for different degrees of speeding, which can impact a driver’s record significantly.

Automated Speed Enforcement

Automated speed enforcement systems, such as traffic cameras, are used in many areas to detect and record speeding violations without the need for a traffic stop by law enforcement. When a vehicle is recorded exceeding the speed limit, a citation is automatically issued to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Drivers should note that such systems strictly adhere to the speed limits; there is typically no margin of error for going a few miles over the speed limit, despite common misconceptions.

Reckless Driving and Severe Offenses

Severe offenses such as reckless driving involve more than just exceeding the speed limit. They denote driving in a manner that is willfully dangerous and shows a disregard for the rules of the road. Such charges are typically considered misdemeanors or even felonies depending on the circumstances and the state laws.

The penalties for reckless driving can include substantial fines, license suspension, and in some cases, imprisonment. Speed limit enforcement is a tool to deter reckless behavior, with the intention of maintaining road safety.

Contesting a Speeding Ticket

In instances where a driver receives a speeding ticket, they have the right to contest it in court. If one believes that their ticket was unwarranted, they can present evidence to support their claim. The steps generally involve:

  1. Filing a formal dispute before the deadline.
  2. Collecting evidence such as traffic and car cam footage.
  3. Possibly hiring an attorney specializing in traffic law.

It’s crucial to understand that driving even a few miles per hour over the speed limit can lead to harsh consequences if one is not cautious. Drivers are expected to maintain speeds within the legally established limits at all times to promote road safety and avoid legal ramifications.

Speed Monitoring and Enforcement Technology

With advancements in technology, traffic law enforcement agencies are increasingly relying on automated tools to monitor and enforce speed limits. Two such prevalent tools are speed cameras and radar/lidar devices, aimed at deterring speeding by capturing evidence of traffic violations.

Speed Cameras Usage

Speed Safety Camera Enforcement (SSC) plays a critical role in monitoring speed limits. These cameras are strategically placed in various locations, including Chicago, where they are known to issue speed camera tickets. Speed cameras operate by photographing vehicles that exceed the designated speed limit, documenting the violation with the vehicle’s license plate number. In many instances, these cameras can be mobile, allowing law enforcement to target different areas prone to speeding.

Contact Mike Agruss Law With Any Questions About the Illinois Vehicle Code

If you have any questions regarding the legality of going slightly over the posted speed limits, contact a car accident lawyer at Mike Agruss Law. An experienced traffic lawyer from our law firm can help you.

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