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District Department of Transportation

Speeding Laws, Fines and Safety Tips

Press Release from DDOT (6/1/2020): 20 MPH Default Speed Limit Emergency Rulemaking

Speeding Laws in DC

  • The posted speed limits are the maximum lawful speeds.
  • Regardless of the posted speed limits, no driver shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions, and having regard to actual and potential hazards.
  • Operators must drive at an appropriate reduced speed at railroad crossings, at curves and when approaching hill crests, on narrow or winding roads, when in the presence of pedestrians, or for reason of weather or road conditions.
  • On all streets and highways, unless otherwise designated, the maximum lawful speed is 20 mph.
  • In alleys, the maximum lawful speed is 15 mph.
  • On all streets adjacent to school buildings and grounds, the maximum lawful speed is 15 mph at the times indicated on official signs. When no times are indicated on official signs, the maximum lawful speed shall be 15 mph during recess periods or while children are arriving and leaving during school opening or closing hours.
  • On all streets adjacent to playgrounds designated by official signs, provided the playground is in use, the maximum lawful speed is 15 mph.
  • The law authorizing automated traffic enforcement in the District of Columbia can be found in the DC Official Code (Division VIII, Title 50, Subtitle VII, Chapter 22, Subchapter 5).

Other Traffic Laws in DC

  • Always wear a seat belt, even in the rear seats.
  • Keep a safe distance away from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Turn lights on if your windshield wipers are on.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Don't drive over the posted speed limit.
  • Adjust your maximum speed for prevailing weather and traffic conditions.
  • Right turn on red (unless otherwise prohibited)—after a full stop.

DC law provides for doubled fines for moving violations in a work zone or school zone.

Speeding Fines

The fines for traffic violations captured by automated photo enforcement are exactly the same as the fines for violations issued by a police officer.  (The DC Municipal Regulations may be found at with the search words “Civil Fines for Motor Vehicle Moving Infractions.”

Safety Tips

  • Allow ample time to reach your destination safely.
  • Don't speed to compensate for lost time.
  • Be extra cautious during twilight hours.
  • Never drive when you are tired or fatigued.
  • Stay alert when driving at all times—don't be distracted by phone calls, reading, or other activities.