Delaware Speeding Laws

In addition to "absolute speed limits" (see below), Delaware's "basic speeding law" prohibits driving at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and without having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. The basic speeding law is construed to achieve its purpose of preventing collisions. (Del. Code Ann. tit. 21, §4168(a) (2017).) 

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first-time speeding violator faces:

  • a minimum $20 fine, and
  • the possibility of a two-to-12-month license suspension.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

Delaware defines “reckless driving” as driving “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” For a first violation, a motorist is looking at ten to 30 days in jail and/or $100 to $300 in fines. (Del. Code Ann. tit. 21, § 4175 (2017).)

(Learn more about Delaware's reckless driving laws.) 

Speed Limits

Delaware's absolute speed limits are:

  • 65 miles per hour on all portions of Delaware State Route 1 located between the Red Lion Creek and the Appoquinimink River (Any speed in excess of this limit is absolute evidence that the speed is not reasonable or prudent and that it is unlawful)
  • 55 miles per hour on four-lane roadways and divided highways
  • 50 miles per hour on two-lane roadways
  • 25 miles per hour in either a business or residential district, and
  • 20 miles per hour at school crossings where signs are in effect during specific time periods.

Delaware Speeding Law

Delaware has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law. There's no trick to how it works: If the sign says 40 miles per hour and you drive 41 miles per hour or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In Delaware you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • attacking the officer’s determination of your speed (to do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method)
  • claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others, and
  • claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car (with so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road).

Note that in Delaware you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit—for example, driving exactly at the maximum posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

Point System

Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation adds two to five points to a motorist's driving records. Accumulating 14 or more points within a 24-month period leads to license suspension.

(Learn more about the point system in Delaware.)

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