Virginia’s speed limit laws: A quick guide

Many remember when the maximum speed limit on Virginia highways was 65 mph, until the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill allowing it to be raised to 70 mph on certain sections of the highway. Oftentimes, drivers are unsure of speed limits in certain areas. Read on for a quick and complete guide of speed limits in Virginia.

car speeding through the city

What are the speed limits in Virginia?

Unless there is a speed limit sign stating otherwise, the maximum speed limit for vehicles and motorcycles is 25 mph for school, business and residential areas, 35 mph for unpaved roads and 55 mph for all other roads.

What are the speed limits for roads that are not posted?

This limit is 55 mph for most highways and 45 mph for trucks on routes numbered 600 or higher. In business and residential areas, the statutory speed limit is 25 mph. On unpaved roads, a maximum speed limit of 35 mph applies.

blur of speeding card on a nighttime highway

What are the penalties for driving over the speed limit?

According to Virginia law, if you are driving 20 or more  mph above the speed limit, or over 85 mph, a law enforcement officer may charge you with reckless driving, regardless of the speed limit. It is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense if you are convicted of reckless driving. The court may require a fine, suspend your driving privilege and/or impose a jail sentence.

If the violation results in death and the operator’s license was suspended or revoked at the time of the offense, it may be considered a felony, which carries more serious consequences. You are subject to an additional $100 fine if convicted of driving between 81 and 85 MPH in a 65 mph zone. In addition, it’s illegal to use radar detectors in Virginia.

Can I drive under the speed limit?

You may drive slower than the speed limit, as long as you don’t impede the normal movement of traffic. By law you must drive slower where signs indicate a school zone speed limit or work zone speed limit, and/or if conditions such as road construction or bad weather make the posted speed unsafe.

How can I get a speed limit lowered or raised?

If you believe there’s a need to change a speed limit, contact your local VDOT residency office. The local VDOT District Traffic Engineer has the authority to increase or decrease speed limits and considers whether a review of a particular speed limit is warranted based on VDOT’s “Speed Limit Change Process” policy. See the policy here for details.

How can I get motorists to slow down in my neighborhood?

Contact the state or local police if motorists are consistently traveling at speeds higher than what is posted on your street. For roads maintained by VDOT, there are various neighborhood traffic programs to address speeding or other issues in your neighborhood. See here for details.