Wisconsin's Speeding Laws and Penalties

Wisconsin’s Speeding Laws and Penalties

Wisconsin has two types of speeding laws: a “basic speeding law” and “fixed limits.” This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of a speeding violation.

Basic Speeding Law

Wisconsin’s basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed “greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for 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, 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.

(Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.57 (2017).)

Fixed Speed Limits

There is no trick to how Wisconsin’s fixed speed limits (also called “absolute” 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, Wisconsin’s fixed speed limits prohibit motorists from driving faster than:

  • 15 miles per hour when passing a school house or school crossing
  • 15 miles per hour when passing a “safety zone” occupied by pedestrians
  • 15 miles per hour in alleys
  • 15 miles per hour on most streets and town roads
  • 25 miles per hour on highways within the corporate limits of a city or village (except highways in the outlying districts)
  • 25 miles per hour on any service road within the corporate limits of a city or village
  • 35 miles per hour in any outlying district within the corporate limits of a city or village
  • 35 miles per hour on any highway in a semi-urban district outside the corporate limits of a city or village
  • 45 miles per hour on any highway designated as a “rustic road”
  • 65 miles per hour on most expressways, and
  • 70 miles per hour on freeways.

(Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.57 (2017).)

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket

The consequences of a Wisconsin speeding violation depend on the circumstances. But fines typically range from $30 to $300. And for certain speeding violations, the fines for a second violation within a year are $80 to $600. There are also circumstances where speeding in a construction or school zone can lead to the standard fines being doubled.

(Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.60 (2017).)

Reckless Driving

Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. Wisconsin’s reckless driving law states that “no person may endanger the safety of any person or property by the negligent operation of a vehicle.” (Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.62 (2017).)

Point System

A speeding violation will also add three to six points to the motorist’s driving record. Accumulating 12 or more points within a year will lead to license suspension. (Wis. Admin. Code § § 101.02, 101.04 (2017).)

(Find out about Wisconsin’s traffic violation points system, including the number of points corresponding to different citations.)


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