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

Speed limits in Washington

75 mph: designated sections of freeways and interstates

70 mph: other rural freeways

65 mph: some rural undivided two-lane highways

60 mph: default speed on rural two-lane highways

60 mph: urban freeways

60 mph: maximum speed on freeways for trucks, motorhomes, and vehicles towing a trailer

50 mph: roads with traffic lights

25 mph: within cities or towns

20 mph: school zones when children are present

Washington code on reasonable and prudent speed

Maximum speed law:

According to section 46.61.400(1) of WA vehicle code, “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:

Section 46.61.425 and 46.61.100 states:

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

“No person shall drive continuously in the left lane of a multi-lane roadway when doing so impedes the flow of traffic.”

“When driving a vehicle on a highway having two or more lanes of traffic in the same direction, a person shall drive in the right-hand lane except when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow.”

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.

While it may be difficult to fight a speeding ticket in Washington due to the absolute speed limit law, 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 Washington

First-time violators may:

  • Be fined up to $250 (plus additional public safety and education assessments)

  • Have their license suspended for up to one year

Penalty for reckless driving in Washington

First-time violators may:

  • Be fined up to $500

  • Be sentenced to up to one year of jail time

  • Have their license suspended for between 30 days and one year

Violators may, in some cases, be permitted to perform community service in lieu of paying a fine.

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

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