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District Department of Transportation

Twenty MPH 20 MPH Default Speed Limit Frequently Asked Questions

Is 20 MPH the new speed limit city-wide? 

If  there is no other posted speed, then the speed limit is 20 MPH. If you are not sure what the speed is, go 20 MPH until you see a sign posted otherwise. Specifically, the 20 MPH speed limit will be in effect mostly on local roadways, and you will know the speed limit based on signs.  

Why is DC changing the speed limit on local streets? 

The faster drivers are traveling on our residential streets, the more likely they are to cause death and serious injury to themselves, other drivers and pedestrians. Mayor Bowser’s plan to reduce the default speed limit  makes our streets safer, especially now as residents are traveling to and from essential businesses, essential jobs, and families are exercising to support overall physical and mental health during the pandemic. 

What is a local street? 

Local streets are residential streets that primarily serve neighborhood traffic. Generally, they have fewer cars on them and are narrower than other streets. Local streets make up the majority of DC’s street network. Generally, these are streets without a painted centerline. 

When will this take effect? 

The new speed limit went in to effect on June 1, 2020. Signs are being updated throughout the remainder of 2020.  

What about other streets, like the major roadway in my neighborhood? 

The default speed limit of 20 mph will be in effect on local streets, but DDOT is assessing speed limits on all streets in the District and will be lowering speed limits throughout the District when appropriate. 

What should I do if people are not following the new speed limit in my neighborhood? 

Local streets are eligible for additional traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, depending on conditions and space availability. Requests can be made through DDOT’s Traffic Safety Assessment process

Will the new 20 mph be enforced with automated traffic enforcement cameras?  

No. Automated traffic enforcement cameras are generally reserved for high-speed, high-volume roadways, not local roads.