As an enormous state, California may be a difficult place to navigate when driving. From Southern California’s beaches and desert to Northern California’s forests, it may especially be challenging to safely determine how you should drive in different climates with attention to the location’s dangers on the road. Vehicle Code 22350 further explains the precise speed limits to each type of road and highway, as well as explaining how to manage risks along the way.
Basic Speeding Law
California has implemented a basic speed law that proposes overarching sanctions of what appropriate speed limits are in various settings. The basic speed law, Vehicle Code 22350, states:
“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.”
But what is a reasonable speed according to this law? According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your speed should depend on a variety of factors, regardless of the posted or unposted speed limits. The basic speed law does set statutory speed limits, but you should always be cautious when considering the number and speed of other vehicles on the road as well as showing regard to if the road surface is smooth, rough, graveled, wet, dry, wide, or narrow. You should never exceed the speed limit, but you should also not be too far below the limit such that you are posing as a risk to yourself and others. There are other external factors that may impact your speed as well, such as if there are bicyclists or pedestrians on or crossing the roadway and how the weather conditions may impact your vision and ability to drive. If you find yourself in unsafe driving conditions, the best thing to do may simply be getting off the road.
Statutory Speed Limits
Speed limits are set to ensure the safety of all individuals and promote good traffic flow. California’s basic speed law (22350 VC) mandates certain speed limits be followed, regardless if the speed limit is posted or not. For instance, the maximum speed limit for California highways is 65 mph. For two-lane undivided highways, the speed limit is 55 mph, unless posted otherwise.
The basic speed law also set strict speed limits for less urban areas, such as for alleys and residential areas. In alleys, blind intersections, and blind railroad crossings, there might not be as many signs or you may potentially be in a blind spot. It is important to note that these areas are typically 15 mph and that you should yield for your own caution. In residential and business districts, however, the speed limit is increased to 25 mph. This includes school zones and playground areas when children are present, as well as senior citizen facilities. Some school zones may be 15 mph, so it is important to look out to see if that’s posted.
If necessary, Vehicle Code 23350 recommends that you reduce your speeds to facilitate prime road safety and pose no risk to others. This may pertain to the vehicle you are driving or external factors that could impact your drive. If you are operating a towing vehicle, bus, large truck, or any other form of a commercial vehicle, you may be required to decrease your speed compared to a typical car, such as a Prius or Tesla.
You may also need to reduce your speed according to the climate around you. If you are in heavy traffic or bad weather, it may be best to analyze the driver’s around you to see if you are going too fast. If you are in rough weather, however, it may be best to get off the road and turn off your lights. Regardless of where you are, it is important to look for posted signage to acknowledge the cautions and regulations. For instance, if you are driving near rocky terrain, it would be beneficial to know if rock slides or animal road crossings are prone to happen.
If you violate California’s basic speed law, 22350 VC, you may be at risk to receive a ticket violation. Fines range anywhere from $35 to $500 and that doesn’t include court costs and assessments. Ignoring the ticket will result in bigger issues; a speeding ticket is only an infraction, but if you fail to pay the fine or go to court, you are at risk to get a misdemeanor and a warrant for your arrest. Thus, there are three solutions to your 22350 VC speeding ticket: paying the fine, attending traffic school, or fighting the ticket.
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