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What Are The Penalties For Speeding In A Motor Vehicle In Michigan?

The vast majority of Michigan drivers who have an encounter with law enforcement or the court system do so because they are pulled over and cited for speeding. Going in excess of the legal speed limit increases the chances for a serious automobile collision that can result in property damage, bodily injury and even death. As a result, the Michigan Legislature has set financial penalties for speeding that can end up being a costly proposition.

  • At a minimum, "[a] person operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition existing at the time." MCL 257.627(1). "A person shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead." This is called a violation of the basic speed law (VBSL). NOTE: A VIOLATION OF THE BASIC SPEED LAW CAN BE ENFORCED BY THE POLICE EVEN IF THERE IS NO POSTED SPEED LIMIT SIGN.

The following are the legal speed limits on roads in the State of Michigan:

  • 15 miles per hour on a highway segment within the boundaries of a mobile home park. MCL 257.627(2)(a).
  • 25 miles per hour on a highway segment within a business district. MCL 257.627(2)(b).
  • 25 miles per hour on a highway segment within the boundaries of a public park, but may be reduced to 15 miles per hour by local ordinance. MCL 257.627(2)(c).
  • 25 miles per hour on a highway segment within the boundaries of a residential subdivision, including a condominium subdivision, consisting of a system of interconnected highways with no through highways and a limited number of dedicated highways that serve as entrances to and exits from the subdivision. MCL 257.627(2)(d). NOTE: THIS SPEED LIMIT CAN BE ENFORCED BY THE POLICE EVEN IF THERE IS NO POSTED SIGN.
  • A person operating a truck with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, a truck-tractor, a truck-tractor with a semi-trailer or trailer, or a combination of these vehicles shall not exceed a speed of 35 miles per hour during the period when reduced loadings are being enforced in accordance with the Michigan Vehicle Code. MCL 257.627(3).
  • Where the posted speed limit is greater than 65 miles per hour, a person operating a school bus, a truck with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, a truck-tractor, or a truck-tractor with a semi-trailer or trailer or a combination of these vehicles shall not exceed a speed of 65 miles per hour on a limited access freeway or a state trunk line highway. MCL 257.627(4).
  • A person operating a vehicle on a highway, when entering and passing through a work zone where a normal lane or part of the lane of traffic has been closed due to highway construction, maintenance, or surveying activities, shall not exceed a speed of 45 miles per hour unless a different speed limit is determined for that work zone by the state transportation department, a county road commission, or a local authority, based on accepted engineering practice. MCL 257.627(6).
  • The maximum speed limit on all limited access freeways upon which a speed limit is not otherwise fixed under this act is 70 miles per hour, which shall be known as the "limited access freeway general speed limit". The minimum speed limit on all limited access freeways upon which a minimum speed limit is not otherwise fixed under this act is 55 miles per hour. MCL 257.627(8).
  • The speed limit on all trunk line highways and all county highways upon which a speed limit is not otherwise fixed under this act is 55 miles per hour, which shall be known as the "general speed limit". MCL 257.627(9). THIS SPEED LIMIT CAN BE ENFORCED BY THE POLICE EVEN IF THERE IS NO POSTED SIGN.
  • The speed limit on all county highways with a gravel or unimproved surface upon which a speed limit is not otherwise fixed under this act is 55 miles per hour, which shall be known as the "general gravel road speed limit". MCL 257.627(10).

The penalty for speeding is a civil infraction punishable by a fine. The amount of that fine varies depending on which district court that your case is heard in. If a person speeds in a work zone, emergency scene or in a school zone during school hours, then they are subject to double the fine that is otherwise usually assessed by that particular district court. MCL 257.601b(1). In addition, points will be assessed on your Michigan driving record, but the amount of points depends on where you were speeding and how many miles per hour over the speed limit you were going. A violation of the basic speed law can add two points to your Michigan driving record.

  • If you were driving over the speed limit on secondary highways or local streets where the speed limit is less than 55 miles per hour (MCL 257.320a):
  1. 1 to 5 miles per hour over speed limit = 1 point
  2. 6 to 10 miles per hour over speed limit = 2 points
  3. 10 to 15 miles per hour over speed limit = 3 points
  4. 16 or more miles per hour over speed limit = 4 points
  • If you were driving over the speed limit on an interstate highway or state highway where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour or greater (MCL 257.629c):
  1. 1 to 5 miles per hour over speed limit = 0 points
  2. 6 to 10 miles per hour over speed limit = 1 point
  3. 11 to 15 miles per hour over speed limit = 2 points
  4. 16 to 25 miles per hour over speed limit = 3 points
  5. 26 or more miles per hour over speed limit = 4 points
  • If you were driving over the posted speed limit in a work zone (MCL 257.320a):
  1. 1 to 5 miles per hour over speed limit = 2 points
  2. 6 to 10 miles per hour over speed limit = 3 points
  3. 10 to 15 miles per hour over speed limit = 4 points
  4. 16 miles or more per hour over speed limit = 5 points

Keep in mind if the police officer and/or prosecutor determines that your excessive speed was incredibly dangerous under the circumstances, then you can also be charged with careless driving (a civil infraction punishable by a fine and 3 points added to your Michigan driving record) or even reckless driving (a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.00 and up to 93 days in jail, or both, and 6 points added to your Michigan driving record).

A person accused of speeding is not required to admit responsibility and can request a formal or informal hearing before a district court judge or magistrate. After receiving a citation, it is critical that the hearing is requested with the court within 10 days. The burden is on the prosecutor to show that you violated the speed limit on the roadway that you were pulled over. The judge or magistrate may dismiss the charge if you can prove that the speed limit wasn't posted on the road that you were allegedly speeding on (NOTE: this defense does not apply to violations of the basic speed law, the general speed limit, or exceeding 25 miles per hour in a residential subdivision). It is not uncommon for the police officer to fail to appear at the formal or informal hearing which will lead to an outright dismissal. In addition, you may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to admit to a non-moving violation in exchange for having the speeding citation dismissed (e.g. impeding traffic). Admitting to a non-moving, non-abstracted violation can avoid both points on your Michigan driving record and "insurance points" assessed by your no-fault carrier in deciding whether or not to raise your rates. A traffic lawyer can provide some invaluable guidance and assistance in minimizing the consequences related to speeding.

If you are accused of speeding or any other traffic violation and need legal representation, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC.

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