Pennsylvania has two types of speeding laws: a “basic speeding law” and “absolute limits.” This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of a speeding violation.
Pennsylvania’s basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed that is “greater than is reasonable and prudent” under the conditions then existing. The law also makes it unlawful to drive faster than will “permit the driver to bring his [or her] vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.” 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.
There is no trick to how Pennsylvania’s absolute speed limits work: If the fixed speed limit is 50 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. Unless otherwise posted, Pennsylvania’s absolute speed limits are:
Pennsylvania law requires that all maximum speed limits be posted.
For most speeding violations, the fine is $35 plus $2 for every mile in excess of five miles per hour over the limit. However, if the maximum limit is 65 miles per hour or higher, the fine is $42.50 plus $2 for every mile in excess of five miles per hour over the limit. And when a motorist exceeds a school zone limit by more than 11 miles per hour, fines can be as much as $500.
Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. A standard first reckless driving conviction is a “summary offense.” The penalties for a violation include up to 90 days in jail, a $200 fine, and a six-month license suspension.
Speeding violations that lead to the death of another person can result in homicide-by-vehicle charges. A conviction is a third-degree felony and carries up to seven years in prison and a maximum $15,000 in fines.
A speeding violation will add two or three points (depending on the type of violation) to a motorist’s driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension.