Following is an overview of the laws, limits, and fines as they relate to speeding traffic violations in the state of Washington.
Speed limits in Washington
75 mph: designated sections of freeways and interstates
70 mph: other rural freeways
65 mph: some rural undivided two-lane highways
60 mph: default speed on rural two-lane highways
60 mph: urban freeways
60 mph: maximum speed on freeways for trucks, motorhomes, and vehicles towing a trailer
50 mph: roads with traffic lights
25 mph: within cities or towns
20 mph: school zones when children are present
Washington code on reasonable and prudent speed
Maximum speed law:
According to section 46.61.400(1) of WA vehicle code, “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”
Minimum speed law:
“No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”
“No person shall drive continuously in the left lane of a multi-lane roadway when doing so impedes the flow of traffic.”
“When driving a vehicle on a highway having two or more lanes of traffic in the same direction, a person shall drive in the right-hand lane except when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow.”
Due to variations in speedometer calibration, tire size, and margins of error in speed-detecting technology, it’s uncommon for an officer to pull a driver over for going less than five miles above the speed limit. However, technically any amount over can be considered a speed violation so best practices are to stay within the limit.
While it may be difficult to fight a speeding ticket in Washington due to the absolute speed limit law, a driver may choose to go to court and claim their innocence based upon one of the following:
The driver may oppose the determination of speed. In order to claim this defense a driver must know how his or her speed was determined and then learn how to disprove its accuracy.
A driver may claim that an emergency situation caused the driver to break the speed limit in order to prevent injury or damage to themselves or others.
The driver may claim a case of mistaken identity. If a police officer clocks a driver speeding and subsequently has to find them again in traffic, it’s possible that they could have made a mistake and pulled the wrong car over.
Penalty for exceeding the speed limit in Washington
First-time violators may:
Be fined up to $250 (plus additional public safety and education assessments)
Have their license suspended for up to one year
Penalty for reckless driving in Washington
First-time violators may:
Be fined up to $500
Be sentenced to up to one year of jail time
Have their license suspended for between 30 days and one year
Violators may, in some cases, be permitted to perform community service in lieu of paying a fine.