Speeding Tickets and Penalties in Rhode Island

How Rhode Island’s speeding limits work and the consequences of getting a speeding ticket.

Rhode Island has several types of speeding laws: a “general speed restriction” and absolute limits. This article explains the differences between the two limits and the consequences of a speeding violation.

Rhode Island Speed Limits

Rhode Island’s “basic speed rule” prohibits motorists from driving faster than is “reasonable and prudent” based on current conditions. In other words, motorists must always drive a safe speed taking into consideration traffic, weather, visibility, and other potential hazards.

Rhode Island also has “prima facie” speed limits. If a motorist is driving slower than a prima facie limit, there’s a presumption that the speed is reasonable and prudent. However, driving faster than a prima facie limit results in a presumption that the speed wasn’t reasonable and prudent. In either scenario, the parties can present evidence in court in an attempt to show the presumption shouldn’t apply in that specific case.

The prima facie speed limits include:

  • 20 miles per hour in school zones
  • 25 miles per hour in business districts, and
  • 25 miles per hour in residential districts.

In other locations, the prima facie limits are 50 miles per hour during the day and 45 miles per hour at night.

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket

Rhode Island’s statute on speeding penalties is somewhat confusing. But it appears the fines for speeding violations are:

  • Basic speed law violations. Violations of the basic speed law carry a fine of $95.
  • One to ten miles per hour over the limit first $95 fine.
  • One to ten miles per hour over the limit second offense within 12 months. $95 plus $10 per mile per hour over the speed limit.
  • One to ten miles per hour over the limit third offense within 12 months. $95 plus $15 per mile per hour over the speed limit.
  • 11 or more miles per hour over the limit first $95 plus $10 per mile per hour over the speed limit.
  • 11 or more miles per hour over the limit second offense within 12 months. $95 plus $15 per mile per hour over the speed limit.
  • 11 or more miles per hour over the limit third offense within 12 months. $95 plus $20 per mile per hour over the speed limit.

In some circumstances, a speeding violation can also result in license suspension for up to 30 or 60 days.

Depending on the situation, a speeding violation could also lead to reckless driving charges. And for speeding violations that involve fatalities, vehicular homicide charges are possible.

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