Ohio’s Speeding Laws and Penalties

Read about Ohio’s speeding laws and the consequences of getting a speeding ticket.

Ohio has three types of speeding laws: a “basic speeding law,” “prima facie speed limits,” and “absolute speed limits.” This article explains the differences between the three and the consequences of a speeding violation.

(Also, check out our article that discusses the different types of speeding laws.)

Basic Speeding Law

Ohio’s basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed greater than is “reasonable or proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the street or highway and any other conditions.” In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances. For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a bright, sunny day. But if it’s dark and the road is icy, going 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.

The basic speeding law also forbids driving a vehicle “at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.”  

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.21(A) (2017).)

Absolute Speed Limits

There’s no trick to how Ohio’s absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 70 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. Unless otherwise posted, Ohio’s absolute speed limits prohibit motorists from driving faster than:

  • 75 miles per hour on rural freeways
  • 65 miles per hour on rural expressways and urban freeways, and
  • 55 miles per hour on most other roadways.

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.21(D) (2017).)

Prima Facie Speed Limits

Ohio also uses prima facie speed limits (sometimes called “presumed” limits). Prima facie speed limits work a little different than absolute limits. If you exceed a prima facie speed limit it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guilty. You still have the opportunity to prove in court that your speed was safe. If you’re able to do so, the judge is supposed to find you not guilty. And if a cop clocks you at a speed that’s under the presumed limit, there’s a presumption that you’re not in violation of Ohio’s basic speeding law (see above).

Unless otherwise posted, Ohio’s prima facie speed limits include:

  • 15 miles per hour in alleys within a municipal corporation
  • 20 miles per hour in school zones
  • 25 miles per hour in business districts
  • 35 miles per hour on highways outside business districts, and
  • 50 miles per hour on state routes within municipal corporations outside urban districts.

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.21(B) and (C) (2017).)

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket

The consequences of a speeding violation depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are:

  • First and second offenses. For a first or second offense, speeding is a minor misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $100.
  • Third offense. A third speeding violation within a year is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. A violation carries up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum $250 in fines.
  • Fourth or subsequent offense. A fourth or subsequence speeding violation within a one-year period is a third-degree misdemeanor. A convicted motorist faces up to 60 days in jail and/or a maximum $500 in fines.
  • Other fourth-degree offenses. Motorists who drive faster than 35 miles per hour in a business district, faster than 50 miles per hour in other parts of municipal corporations, or faster than 35 miles per hour in a school zone are guilty of a fourth-degree misdemeanor (see penalties above).

And generally, the fines are doubled for speeding violations committed in a construction zone.

(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2929.21, 4511.21(P) (2017).)

Reckless Operation

Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a “reckless operation” conviction. Ohio defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle “operating a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” A standard first offense carries up to $100 in fines. But with prior traffic convictions, a motorist convicted of reckless operation may face up to 60 days in jail and a maximum $500 in fines. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2929.21, 4511.20, 4511.201 (2016).)

(Read more about Ohio’s reckless operation laws and penalties.)

Point System

Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation might add points to a motorist’s driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4510.036 (2017).)

(Find out about Ohio’s traffic violation points system, including the number of points corresponding to different citations.)

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