Pennsylvania Speeding Laws and Ticket Penalties

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

Most Pennsylvania drivers will, at some point, receive a speeding citation. This article explains the differences between Pennsylvania's two types of speed limits and the consequences of a speeding violation.

How Do Pennsylvania's Speed Limits Work?

Pennsylvania has two types of speeding laws: a "basic speeding law" and "absolute limits." Below, we explain how these speed limits work.

Pennsylvania's Basic Speeding Law—Safe Speed Requirement

Pennsylvania's basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed that's "greater than is reasonable and prudent" under the existing conditions. 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." (75 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3361.)

In other words, under the basic speed law, 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.

Pennsylvania's Absolute (Maximum) Speed Limits

There is no trick to how Pennsylvania's absolute (maximum) 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:

  • 15 miles per hour in school zones
  • 25 miles per hour in most residential districts
  • 35 miles per hour in urban districts
  • 65 or 70 miles per hour (depending on what's posted) on freeways, and
  • 55 miles per hour on all other roadways.

Pennsylvania law requires that all maximum speed limits be posted. (75 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3362.)

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket in Pennsylvania

Generally, the fine amounts and demerit points for speeding tickets depend on where the violation occurred and the amount by which the driver violated the speed limit.

Pennsylvania's Speeding Violation Fines

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.

When a motorist exceeds a school zone limit by more than 11 miles per hour, fines can be as much as $500.

Points for Speeding Tickets in Pennsylvania

Speeding violations carry the following number of license points:

  • 2 points. Basic speed law violations and exceeding a speed limit by up to 10 miles per hour.
  • 3 points. Speeding in a school zone or exceeding a speed limit by 11 to 15 miles per hour.
  • 4 points. Exceeding a speed limit by 16 to 25 miles per hour.
  • 5 points. Exceeding a speed limit by at least 26 miles per hour.

Drivers who rack up too many points face consequences like having to take a driver improvement course and license suspension.

Reckless Driving and Other Possible Charges in Pennsylvania

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 of $15,000 in fines.

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