Can You go to Prison for Speeding?

By Prison Insight Staff

Updated: May 12, 2021

This information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. We are not lawyers.

We have many laws in this country.. At the federal level, no one actually knows how many laws there are in the United States!  Of course, we’ve been accumulating laws well over 200 years, but there have been many more in recent decades.

When federal laws were first codified in 1927, they fit into a single volume. By the 1980s, there were 50 volumes of more than 23,000 pages. Today, the internet states no one knows just how many laws there are.

The Internal Revenue Code alone contains more than 3.4 million words and covers thousands of pages. There are approximately 20,000 laws about the use and ownership of guns. Between 2000 and 2007, Congress created 452 new crimes, so at that time the total number of Federal crimes exceeded 4,450. On top of federal laws, you have state laws and local ordinances. 

That leads to the question in today’s blog post: Can you go to prison for speeding?

In this post I will cover the following topics:

  • Speeding is usually classified as an infraction
  • Speeding can put you behind bars
  • Will you go to jail or prison?

Speeding is usually classified as an infraction

Speeding laws vary by state, and the penalties you face for a speeding violation vary depending on the circumstances. In most cases, jail time isn’t really a possibility, but there are cases when speeding has put people behind bars.

In most states, a standard speeding violation is a minor traffic violation that is classified as an infraction or civil offense. Infractions and civil offenses aren’t usually considered crimes, which means they don’t lead to jail time.

The most common consequence of a speeding ticket is a fine. You can also receive demerit points on your license. In some states, you’ll get the option of traffic school to avoid these punishments. As a rule, the amount of the fine and number of points depend on the driver’s speed.

Each state does it differently, but the punishments usually break down in two distinct ways. The first is to issue speeding fines based on the amount the driver was exceeding the speed limit. For example, a state might have a fine of $50 for speeding plus $2 for each mile per hour over the limit. 

The other common approach is to set speeding fines at specific amounts for different ranges. In a state like Maryland, you’ll get fined $80 if your speed is anywhere between one and nine miles over the limit. For 10 to 19 miles per hour over the limit, the fine is $90. 

Most states issue demerit points based on ranges, too. In Florida, for example, getting caught going up to 15 miles per hour over the limit can result in three points. Anything over 15 miles per hour results in four points.

I should also point out that some states do consider speeding to be a misdemeanor. They include Nevada and Arkansas. In those states, speeding can theoretically put you in jail, but for a basic speeding violation, that usually doesn’t happen.

Speeding can put you behind bars

The vast majority of the time, a speeding ticket will not put you in jail, but there are situations where it can put you behind bars. With certain aggravating factors, a speeding infraction can become a crime.

In many states, extreme speeds or flying through a high penalty area (like school zones) can get you locked up. Exceeding a high speed, like 100 miles per hour, can possibly turn the infraction into a misdemeanor known as “reckless driving.” If convicted, that could result in jail time. 

There are also states who have laws about repeat offenses. If you have a habit of speeding and accumulate tickets, that can get you locked up as well. In Ohio, for example, a third speeding violation in one year can result in up to 30 days in jail.

Will you go to jail or prison?

The answer to today’s blog question is technically “no.” You will not go to prison for speeding, but you can go to jail. I’ve talked before about the difference between jail and prison. You only go to prison when you are convicted of a felony, not a misdemeanor.

State prisons are managed by the department of corrections and they house inmates serving longer sentences of more than one year.

If you get convicted of a speeding misdemeanor, the worst case scenario is spending some time in the county or city jail. A jail is a local facility for inmates serving short term sentences of just a few days or few months after a misdemeanor conviction.

Have you done time in jail for speeding? Let us know in the comments below.


Can I Get Jail Time for a Speeding Ticket?

Can you go to jail for speeding?
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