It can be a common-sense question to ask, is going 5 mph over the speed limit legal? While the easy answer is that no, it is not legal to go any amount over the speed limit, there is a more difficult discussion to unpack about how some traffic does drive faster than this rate, creating a “flow of traffic” argument in many states. This is a very weak legal argument and is rarely supported clearly by a statute.
Where the Risks Are Lower of Speeding By 5 MPH
Dense cities are actually where the risks of getting a speeding ticket are typically lowest in America, but then there are vastly heightened risks of a bumpy ride or collision. There are unchecked reckless drivers in cities that police do not notice or catch. There are myriad pedestrians risks, potholes, and road obstacles that can destroy a vehicle or human life. Given the winding, intricate urban roads of most dense cities, it is actually impossible to go anywhere near a rural speed for an extended amount of time. It is difficult to speed very much at all in a city without hitting someone and being at fault, which is why most speeding tickets in cities are either given after an accident.
You are more likely to get a reckless driving ticket (if a police officer sees you endangering someone’s property or life), or a serious accident in the city than a speeding ticket. Police typically have more pressing matters (“bigger fish to fry”) than small, incremental traffic infractions in big cities. In other words, civic police in large towns or cities do not get the majority of their revenue from traffic infractions. They get this revenue from property taxes and sales tax. This means they are freer to take on the organized elements of big-city and global crime. But on a smaller scale, in smaller towns and rural areas, it is the reverse.
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Where Risks Are Higher of Speeding By 5MPH
Some jurisdictions are tighter than others when it comes to speeding. Inexperienced drivers might think that the best place to drive over the speed limit is a rural area, due to the lower population and how flat things are. Nothing could be further from the truth. While rural areas are more sparsely populated, it is the case that these smaller towns often experience more traffic going through their city than people who stop, shop, and live there.
These small towns and jurisdictions have comparatively little opportunity to collect money from local property taxes or sales taxes. But the revenue generated from traffic enforcement can provide a sizable percentage of many rural municipal incomes. Rightfully so, because those drivers use their roads and risk needing their local emergency response resources. Often it is also the case that there is little active crime going on to respond to, and police in rural areas are tasked with responding to things as they come up, and monitoring the highways for speeders. If quotas become such that a police officer wills it, you are liable to get a speeding ticket for one mile per hour over the speed limit. We have seen this exact scenario. Trivial as that fine may be, you would still have to pay it if found guilty, or you could risk further fines or a suspended license if you pay late or do not pay. We have seen certain rural jurisdictions level fines for going less than 5 mph over the speed limit, but more often in special jurisdictions that have some difference than the rest of the region.
One of the most common places to receive a speeding ticket is in a construction zone. Construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in America, and this is exponentially more so for highway construction workers. There is strong reasoning behind why speed limits are reduced and more strictly enforced in construction zones; it is to save these workers’ lives and keep their families happy rather than bereaved. Slowing down in construction zones is a wise decision for your pocketbook, and to save the lives of construction workers. If you find yourself entering a construction zone, you may notice that other traffic does not slow down. Pay no attention to this, and even pull to the right lane if necessary allowing traffic to pass more safely on the left. Slowing down in construction zones is serious and we absolutely urge that practice.
Another extremely important area to avoid speeding is around schools or in school zones. Children are very inexperienced with cars and do not accurately predict what cars will do. It is wise to assume children will run in front of your car if given the chance, even though we would hope parents would teach their children better than to run into a street without looking. If you see a child ahead of you in a car, no matter what speed you are going, give them a break and hit the brake pedal, and reduce your speed – regardless of the speed limit. You could be saving a life. School zones are also constantly patrolled by police for this very reason.
Anyone speeding in a school zone is subject to typically a doubled fine and no process for appeal. It is a very harsh sentence to be found guilty of speeding in a school zone, and there are children who have lost their lives that have caused this to be such a serious response. It could be your own child in someone else’s field of vision some other day. School zones are special spaces where the government has designated a lowered speed limit and stricter enforcement. If you speed any amount in a school zone, whether by 5 mph or 1 mph, you are liable to get a speeding ticket and a long lecture from a righteous local police officer.
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Retirement Home Zones
The areas around senior centers are another zone where speed limits are lowered and more strictly enforced. Elderly citizens are uniquely at risk due to a number of factors. They could be newly blind or hard of hearing, having a senior moment, dropping a bag, or having a medical emergency and if a speeding driver is approaching recklessly it can risk human life. It is crucial to slow down for senior centers because it can save lives, and also money for you. Police routinely enforce areas around senior homes strictly and work to protect their elderly citizens.
If you are still wondering about “is going 5 mph over the speed limit legal?” then The Kryder Law Group, LLC would like to invite you to have a free consultation with our office where we can explain more about how the law works and might apply to your specific case. Call us today at (312) 223-1700.