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.)
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).)
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:
(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.21(D) (2017).)
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:
(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.21(B) and (C) (2017).)
The consequences of a speeding violation depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are:
And generally, the fines are doubled for speeding violations committed in a construction zone.
(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § § 2929.21, 4511.21(P) (2017).)
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.)
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.)