February 29, 2024


How fast over the speed limit can I really go?

I will first give you the textbook answer and the reality second.

The short answer is zero, a big fat zero.   You can get a ticket in Utah for going only 1 mph over the posted limit.  The speed limit signs are an absolute limit and if you travel at any speed over the posted limit the court looks at it as illegal per se. Utah also has a prima facie speed limit, meaning that a person can be cited for a “speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions.”   Under the prima facie law, you can be cited for any speed if your speed is unsafe for the conditions.  For example if there is 6 inches of snow on the road and the posted speed limit is 65mph and you are driving at 55mph and slide off the road and wreck. You can get a ticket for violating speed too fast for the conditions even though you were driving under the posted speed limit.  

In reality, most officers are not going to stop you until you are at least 5mph over and if you are lucky 10mph over the limit.   Of course, this all depends on things such, as are you in a school zone or desolate highway?  Is it late at night or middle of the day? Is the officer on their way home?  Is the officer bored? Are they working a speed overtime shift?   Whether an officer decides to stop you or not is at their discretion and police discretion is a topic for another day.

The safest bet is to go the speed limit.   As hard as it might be to let off the gas in your 1997 Honda civic here is a list of speeding fines that might help lighten that led foot of yours.  

• 1-10 mph over $120

• 11-15 mph over $150

• 16-20 mph over $200

• 21-25 mph over $270

• 26-30 mph over $370

• 31+ mph over $470.     

Speeding in a school or construction zone have added fees as well.

[Utah speeding code  41-6a-601 and 41-6a-602]

Questions/answers from the criminal justice department