Speed Limits

California Speed Limit Laws

Speed limits in California are governed by the Vehicle Code, Division 11: Rules of the Road, Chapter 7: Speed Laws. All pertinent laws and regulations regarding speeding and speed limits are found in these sections of the Vehicle Code (VC).

California speed limits summary:

  • 65 MPH on highways, 70 mph where posted
  • 55 MPH on two lane undivided highway
  • 25 MPH in a business or residential district
  • 25 MPH near a school, children’s playground, or park (may be 15 mph if posted)
  • 15 MPH in any alley

Always watch out for local speed limit traffic signs! Our overview of California speed limits above is based on general state laws. Every county or road can have different regulations, so always keep an eye on traffic signs with posted speed limits which supersede these general rules.

California Vehicle Code, Section 22348:

(a) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 22351, a person shall not drive a vehicle upon a highway with a speed limit established pursuant to Section 22349 or 22356 at a speed greater than that speed limit.

(b) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour is guilty of an infraction punishable, as follows:

(1) Upon a first conviction of a violation of this subdivision, by a fine of not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500). The court may also suspend the privilege of the person to operate a motor vehicle for a period not to exceed 30 days pursuant to Section 13200.5. […]

There are also increased penalties for subsequent violations of California speeding laws defined in this section.

California VC, Section 22349:

(a) Except as provided in Section 22356, no person may drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 65 miles per hour.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person may drive a vehicle upon a two-lane, undivided highway at a speed greater than 55 miles per hour unless that highway, or portion thereof, has been posted for a higher speed by the Department of Transportation or appropriate local agency upon the basis of an engineering and traffic survey. For purposes of this subdivision, the following apply:

(1) A two-lane, undivided highway is a highway with not more than one through lane of travel in each direction.

(2) Passing lanes may not be considered when determining the number of through lanes.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that there be reasonable signing on affected two-lane, undivided highways described in subdivision (b) in continuing the 55 miles-per-hour speed limit, including placing signs at county boundaries to the extent possible, and at other appropriate locations.

California VC, Section 22250:

No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

Even if driving within legal speed limits, based on this section you may receive a citation is you’re driving with a “greater than reasonable” speed during certain conditions (heavy traffic, dense fog or similar).

California Vehicle Code, Section 22406:

No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour:

(a) A motortruck or truck tractor having three or more axles or any motortruck or truck tractor drawing any other vehicle.

(b) A passenger vehicle or bus drawing any other vehicle.

(c) A schoolbus transporting any school pupil.

(d) A farm labor vehicle when transporting passengers.

(e) A vehicle transporting explosives.

(f) A trailer bus, as defined in Section 636.

California VC, Section 22411:

No person shall operate a motorized scooter at a speed in excess of 15 miles per hour.

Note: only the most important sections of California speeding and speed limit laws are noted above. Please see the full Vehicle Code for additional information.

Penalties

Penalties for violating speed laws in California is a fine no more than $100, and typically three times as much when you include penalty assessment and other fees. Exact fine amounts can vary depending on county. You may also get your driver’s license suspended for up to 30 days.

Excessive speeds may get you in other legal trouble based on Street Racing Laws or Reckless Driving Laws. Driving 15 mph over the posted speed limits is considered reckless driving, which can carry excessive fines and even jail sentences.


Sources and references:

This article about California Speed Limit Laws was last updated in 2017. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!