Speeding Laws

Ordinarily speeding tickets are offenses or infractions rather than crimes, but it is not uncommon for speeding tickets to be treated as misdemeanors. If you received a speeding ticket, contact Weiland Upton in Richmond to schedule a meeting with an attorney who can explain how the speed laws operate in Virginia.

Although the basis for a speed law violation will vary from state to state, the following discussion describes typical provisions related to speed.

Basic Speed Rule

A basic speed rule or basic speed law typically provides that “no person shall drive a vehicle greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” Uniform Vehicle Code §11-801. Laws of this kind operate independently of other traffic laws, including laws prescribing a maximum speed. For example, although the maximum speed in a particular area is 55 MPH, a driver might be issued a speeding ticket for driving 55 MPH if doing so is unreasonable because of weather, road or traffic conditions.

Statutory Speed Limit

Laws establishing maximum speeds for roads in particular areas are called statutory seed limits. For example, a statutory speed limit may set a maximum speed of 35 MPH in urban districts and a maximum speed of 55 MPH in all other locations. Uniform Vehicle Code §11-802. The statutory speed limit generally applies unless a posted speed limit designates a different speed.

Minimum Speed Rule

A minimum speed rule or minimum speed law typically provides that “no person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” Uniform Vehicle Code §11-805(a). Additionally, a minimum speed rule might require drivers who are driving at less than the normal speed of traffic to drive in the right-hand lane. Uniform Vehicle Code §11-301(b)

Posted Maximum and Minimum Speed Limits

State or local governments may increase the statutory speed limits, decrease the statutory speed limits or set minimum speed limits on roads under their jurisdiction.

In general, states may also establish different highway speed limits for different types of vehicles, at different times of the day, for various weather conditions or for other factors bearing on safe speeds. Uniform Vehicle Code §11-803. For example, posted speed limits that designate a speed different than the speed provided by the statutory speed law are frequently found on state highways, on residential streets, in school zones and in business districts. Posted speed limits that vary from the statutory speed limit are also used to designated maximum speeds at certain times (when children are present or certain times of day, for example), at particular places (sharp curves, entry ramps and exit ramps) or for particular vehicles (trucks over a minimum weight). Posted speed limits are presumed to be safe and some states require speeding to continue for a certain distance before it becomes a violation.

Conclusion

The basis for speed law violations and the associated penalties vary from state to state. As such, it is important to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable of the speed laws in your jurisdiction. If you received a traffic ticket, contact Weiland Upton in Richmond to schedule a consultation with an attorney who can explain how the speed laws operate in Virginia.

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