Alabama has two types of speeding laws: a “basic speeding law,” and “absolute speed limits.” This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of a speeding violation.
Alabama’s basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed greater than is “reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” 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 wet, going 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.
(Ala. Code § 32-5A-170 (2017).)
There’s no trick to how Alabama’s absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 55 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. Unless otherwise posted, Alabama’s absolute speed limits prohibit motorists from driving faster than:
(Ala. Code § 32-5A-171 (2017).)
The consequences of a speeding violation depend on the circumstances. But a driver caught speeding is generally looking at $190 to $300 in fines and fees. The exact amount typically depends on speed and the county where the violation occurred. And fines are typically doubled for speeding violations committed in construction zones.
(Ala. Code § 32-5A-176.1 (2017).)
Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. Alabama defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle “in a manner that creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm to a person or to property.” A standard first offense carries five to 90 days in jail and/or $25 to $500 in fines. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-190 (2017).)
A speeding violation will also add two or five points (depending on the speed) to the motorist’s driving record. Accumulating 12 or more points within a two-year period will lead to license suspension. Alabama's traffic violation points system also outlines the number of points corresponding to different citations.