Washington's Speeding Laws and Ticket Penalties

Read about Washington's speeding laws and the consequences of getting a speeding ticket.

Most Washington drivers will, at some point, get a speeding ticket. This article explains how Washington's speed limits work and the penalties for a speeding violation.

How Do Washington's Speed Limit Laws Work?

Like most other states, Washington has two types of speeding laws: "absolute speed limits" and a "basic speeding law." This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of each type of violation. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.61.400 (2024).)

Washington's Basic Speeding Law

Washington'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, driving 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.

Washington's Absolute (Maximum) Speed Limits

There is no trick to how Washington's absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 40 miles per hour and you drive faster than 40 miles per hour, you've violated the law.

Washington's absolute speed limits prohibit driving faster than:

  • 60 miles per hour on state highways
  • 25 miles per hour on city and town streets
  • 25 miles per hour when passing school or playground crosswalks, and
  • 15 miles per hour on country roads.

Speeding Ticket Penalties in Washington

Generally, a speeding citation will cost you up to $250 in fines and an additional $17 in fees. However, the maximum fine is doubled for speeding violations in school and playground crosswalks.

Reckless Driving and Other Possible Charges in Washington

Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a "reckless driving" conviction. Washington defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle "in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." And if a speeding violation leads to the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are possible.

Get Professional Help

Talk to a Traffic Ticket attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you