Following is an overview of the laws, limits, and fines as they relate to speeding traffic violations in the state of Rhode Island.

Speed limits in Rhode Island

65 mph: some rural interstates and divided highways

50 mph divided arterials and expressways

50 mph: daytime outside business and residential districts

45 mph: nighttime outside business and residential districts

25 mph: commercial business and residential districts

20 mph: within 300 feet of and through school zones

Rhode Island code on reasonable and prudent speed

Maximum speed law:

Section 31-14-1 of RI vehicle code states, “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”

Minimum speed law:

Sections 31-14-9(a) and 31-15-2 states:

“No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”

“A person driving at less than the normal speed of traffic shall drive in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”

Due to variations in speedometer calibration, tire size, and margins of error in speed-detecting technology, it’s uncommon for an officer to pull a driver over for going less than five miles above the speed limit. However, technically any amount over can be considered a speed violation so best practices are to stay within the limit.

Rhode Island has prima facie speed laws. This means that a driver is presumed to be breaking the speed law, however the driver may argue that they were driving safely despite exceeding the limit. Alternatively, a driver may choose to go to court and claim their innocence based upon one of the following:

  • The driver may oppose the determination of speed. In order to claim this defense a driver must know how his or her speed was determined and then learn how to disprove its accuracy.

  • A driver may claim that an emergency situation caused the driver to break the speed limit in order to prevent injury or damage to themselves or others.

  • The driver may claim a case of mistaken identity. If a police officer clocks a driver speeding and subsequently has to find them again in traffic, it’s possible that they could have made a mistake and pulled the wrong car over.

Penalty for exceeding the speed limit in Rhode Island

First-time violators may:

  • Be fined between $85 and $195 (plus $10 for each mile above the first 10 mph over the limit)

  • Have their license suspended for up to one year

Penalty for reckless driving in Rhode Island

There is no set speed in Rhode Island at which violating the speed limit is considered reckless driving. That determination depends upon the circumstances surrounding the violation.

First-time violators may:

  • Be fined up to $500

  • Be sentenced to up to one year of jail time

  • Have their license suspended for up to one year

Violators may be required to attend a rehabilitative driving course.

This article originally appeared on as Rhode Island Speed Limits, Laws, and Fines and was authored by Valerie Johnston.

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