Illinois Speed Limit Laws

Illinois Speed Limit Laws

Illinois Speed Limit LawsSpeeding is one of the leading contributors to vehicle crashes. You may drive at the maximum allowable speed only under safe conditions. For safety purposes, a minimum speed limit may be posted along certain roadways. When minimum limits are not posted, drivers should not drive so slow as to create an interference with the normal movement of traffic.

Speed Limits in Illinois

Here is an overview of the laws, limits, and fines as they relate to speeding traffic violations in Illinois. The following speed limits apply, unless otherwise posted:

  • Interstate tollways, freeways and some four-lane highways – 65 mph
  • Most other highways and rural areas – 55 mph
  • Urban freeways and interstates through downtown Chicago – 45 mph
  • City/Town Areas – 30 mph
  • School Zones – 20 mph (on school days between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. when children
    are present and signs are posted)
  • Urban Alleys – 15 mph

Illinois differs a bit from most states in that the posted reduced construction zone speed applies 24/7, whether workers are present or not.

Maximum speed law

According to section 11-601(a) of Illinois vehicle code, “A person shall not drive a vehicle upon any highway at a speed that is greater than is reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property.”

Minimum speed law

According to section ILCS 5/11-606(a) of Illinois vehicle code, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”

Also, section 11-701(b) states, “A person driving at less than the normal speed of traffic shall drive in the right-hand lane available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”

Note that there is a minimum 45 miles per hour speed limit on most interstate highways throughout Illinois. 

However, due to differences in speedometer calibration, margins of error detected in speed-detecting technology, and tire size, an officer may pull a driver over despite going over less than 5 mph above the speed limit.

Meanwhile, a driver must take care to slow down when approaching and crossing an intersection, going around a curve, approaching the top of a hill, or traveling on a narrow and winding roadway. 

Drivers must be aware that there may always be dangers present due to pedestrians, traffic, weather, mechanical problems, or road conditions.

Construction Zones

When approaching or entering a highway construction or maintenance area (also
known as work zones), Illinois law requires motorists to slow down, discontinue wireless/cellphone use, yield to any authorized vehicles or workers in the area, change to
a lane away from the workers when possible, and proceed with caution.

Emergency/Maintenance Vehicles

When approaching a stationary emergency/maintenance vehicle using visual signals,
Illinois law requires motorists to yield, change to a lane away from the emergency
workers when possible, and proceed with caution. If a lane change is not possible,
reduce speed and proceed with caution. Illinois law prohibits the use of wireless/cellphones within 500 feet of an emergency scene, except in certain circumstances.

When being approached by an emergency vehicle using audible and visual signals
(lights and/or sirens), Illinois law requires motorists to immediately pull to the right side
of the road and allow the emergency vehicle to pass. In some cases a complete stop
may be necessary to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. If stopped at an intersection
with two-way traffic, remain stopped until the emergency vehicle passes.

School Zones

When approaching a marked school zone between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., on days when school is in operation and children are present, a driver must discontinue wireless/cellphone use, reduce speed to 20 mph, and stop and yield the right-of-way to any children or adults in the crosswalk area.

Funeral Processions

Motorists encountering a funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles in the procession. Motorists should NOT drive between vehicles in an organized funeral procession, except when required to do so by a law enforcement officer; join a funeral procession for the purpose of securing the right-of-way; or attempt to pass any vehicle in an organized funeral procession, except where a passing lane has been specifically provided.

Penalty for exceeding the speed limit in Illinois

First-time violators may be fined up to $1000 and have their license suspended for up to one year

Penalty for reckless driving in Illinois

Traveling 30 mph or more over the speed limit is automatically considered reckless driving. First-time violators may be fined up to $2500, be sentenced to up to one year of jail time, and have their license suspended for up to one year.

Violators may also be required to attend traffic school, and/or may be able to have their speeding fine reduced by attending these classes.

How to Fight a Speeding Ticket?

Due to Illinois’ absolute speed limit law, it may be difficult to fight a speeding ticket in this state. However, if a driver still chooses to go to court, they may 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.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • School Zones say ” when children are present” does that mean kids at the sidewalk and outside near roads or does “when present” mean in the school building that day during the 7-4 hours?

    • Hi David and thanks for the question. The “when children are present” statement does confuse things a little bit and leaves a lot of room for error (both by police officers and by drivers), but here is the exact statute for Illinois…

      625 ILCS 5/11-605) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-605)
      Sec. 11-605. Special speed limit while passing schools.
      (a) For the purpose of this Section, “school” means the following entities:
      (1) A public or private primary or secondary school.
      (2) A primary or secondary school operated by a religious institution. (3) A public, private, or religious nursery school.

      On a school day when school children are present and so close thereto that a potential hazard exists because of the close proximity of the motorized traffic, no person shall drive a motor vehicle at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour while passing a school zone or while traveling on a roadway on public school property or upon any public thoroughfare where children pass going to and from school.

      For the purpose of this Section a school day shall begin at seven ante meridian and shall conclude at four post meridian.

      This Section shall not be applicable unless appropriate signs are posted upon streets and highways under their respective jurisdiction and maintained by the Department, township, county, park district, city, village or incorporated town wherein the school zone is located. With regard to the special speed limit while passing schools, such signs shall give proper due warning that a school zone is being approached and shall indicate the school zone and the maximum speed limit in effect during school days when school children are present.
      (b) (Blank).
      (c) Nothing in this Chapter shall prohibit the use of electronic speed-detecting devices within 500 feet of signs within a special school speed zone indicating such zone, as defined in this Section, nor shall evidence obtained thereby be inadmissible in any prosecution for speeding provided the use of such device shall apply only to the enforcement of the speed limit in such special school speed zone.
      (d) (Blank).
      (e) A first violation of this Section is a petty offense with a minimum fine of $150. A second or subsequent violation of this Section is a petty offense with a minimum fine of $300.
      (f) When a fine for a violation of subsection (a) is $150 or greater, the person who violates subsection (a) shall be charged an additional $50 to be paid to the unit school district where the violation occurred for school safety purposes. If the violation occurred in a dual school district, $25 of the surcharge shall be paid to the elementary school district for school safety purposes and $25 of the surcharge shall be paid to the high school district for school safety purposes. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the entire $50 surcharge shall be paid to the appropriate school district or districts.

      For purposes of this subsection (f), “school safety purposes” includes the costs associated with school zone safety education, the Safe Routes to School Program under Section 2705-317 of the Department of Transportation Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois, safety programs within the School Safety and Educational Improvement Block Grant Program under Section 2-3.51.5 of the School Code, and the purchase, installation, and maintenance of caution lights which are mounted on school speed zone signs.


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