What is the Speed Limit in New York?

Speed limits are the safeguards put in place to protect road users (motorists and pedestrians) at major intra-city roads with a lot of human traffic. In New York, the situation is no different as traffic authorities have them in many parts of the city. If you are a regular driver in New York, getting an E-Z Pass tag is a very good first step. The second step you should take is understanding the state laws on the speed limit.

What does the Law say regarding speed limits?

Before anything else, we must define what speed limit actually is. Speed limit refers to the maximum speed that is legally allowed for a driver plying a route under certain given conditions. While it is not a crime to drive at a speed slower than the prescribed speed limit, it is a traffic violation to go any faster.

In most cases, there are signs posted at strategic points to indicate the maximum and minimum speed allowed on the road to guide drivers. Driving slower than the minimum speed limit may lead to traffic congestion behind you, and this is something that the authorities wish to avoid. Another thing we also need to point out from our definition is the “given conditions” at which the speed limit is acceptable.

Despite the approved speed limit, it is unlawful for any driver to drive at an unreasonable speed in light of existing hazards, such as an unfavorable weather condition or at locations where a recent accident occurred.

Types of Speed limit laws in New York State

New York State has two types of speeding laws. They are the Basic speeding law and the Absolute speeding limit law. To help you gain a perfect understanding of both laws, so you don’t break them in the future, we explain them in detail and point out their differences. We also point out the consequences of violating both laws.

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Basic Speeding Law

Under this law, the State of New York prohibits motorists from driving at a speed that is unreasonable under a particular condition. This law is relative to the situation, so it is not cast in iron. What this law is simply stating is that “any driving speed that poses a risk to lives and property is a violation.” This law was out in place to ensure that drivers practice safe driving at all times. What can be termed a safe speed is also relative. For instance, the safe speed is 45 mph, but on dark and icy roads, this speed could endanger life and may result in a law violation.

Absolute Speed Limits

The speed limit is relative to certain routes. In New York, there is signage on routes telling motorists the maximum speed they can reach while plying that route. So, for instance, if you are driving on a freeway with a speed limit of 55 mph but you drive at a speed of 60mph, you have broken the law. So, you see that the speed limit law depends on the maximum speed limit allowed on each route in particular.

What are the penalties for exceeding speed limits?

As always, there are penalties for exceeding speed limits like those other states in the US. For basic speed law violations, there is a $45 – $100 fine and or up to 15 days of jail time depending on the gravity of the offense. Absolute speed limit violations, on the other hand, attract a $45 -$600 fine and or up to 30 days of jail time depending on the gravity of the time and the prevailing circumstances as at the time the violation was committed.

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It is also important to note that breaking any of the above laws in a school district may attract heavier fines and extended jail time.  Also, if bystanders sustained injuries due to the violation, or there was a loss of life or lives, the court will interpret the offense differently.

Reckless driving

In some cases, a motorist may be adjudged to have driven recklessly if he or she operated the vehicle in such a manner that interferes with the proper and safe use of public roads by other road users.

Breaking speed violations add about 3 points at least to a motorist’s record, and a point accumulation may lead to a license suspension.

What is the minimum and maximum speed limit within  New York’s  Metropolis?

In New York State, the maximum speed limit for most counties is 55 mph. However, you will find areas where the approved limit is much lower. As for the minimum limit, in most cases, this is within the 45 miles range, but I always advise drivers to drive at speeds below the approved limit. Practicing defensive driving on EZ Pass highways are just as important as driving defensively in areas bedeviled with fog and icy tracks.

As for expressways, the minimum speed limit remains 45mph, but for heavily trafficked areas it can as low as 25mph, especially at locations near schools and hospitals.

How do I know the Speed Limit when there is no Sign?

At certain routes, there may be no speed limit signage in sight either because it has been knocked down by wind or it didn’t exist at all. Although this may lead to anxiety on your part, it shouldn’t lead to any cause of alarm. If you notice that there is no speed limit sign, just make sure you don’t drive faster than 55mph. As a caveat, drive below 55mph, and you are likely not to have any issues with the police.

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Or better still, you can contact the NYS MUTCD Supplement for details about speed limits for all routes.

To avoid a license suspension, make sure you drive within the approved limits, and in case you violate the law once, do all you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.