I recently drove from Chicago to New Orleans, Louisiana. More than one-third of the drive was on Illinois Interstate Highway 57. Most of the interstate highways in Illinois are two lanes in each direction once you leave Cook County and the Chicago metropolitan area. Speed limits vary from 55 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour (possibly lower in construction zones). Most often, the posted speed limit is 70 miles per hour.
Speed was a contributing factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2020. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding. It didn’t take long for me to realize that many drivers exceed the posted speed limit. Fortunately, the interstate highways in Illinois are patrolled by Illinois State Police and local law enforcement officers. These law enforcement officers patrol these highways for our safety.
In Illinois, speeding can be a petty or a criminal offense, depending on the speed over the posted speed limit the driver is accused of traveling. Speeding laws are effective on all publicly maintained roads in Illinois, not just on interstate highways. Additional penalties are prescribed in school, park, and construction zones, among other areas.
Speeding 25 miles per hour or less over the posted speed limit is a petty offense. Speeding more than 26 miles over the posted speed limit is a misdemeanor offense. 625 ILCS 5/11-601.5. Traveling at a speed from 26 miles per hour to 34 miles per hour is a Class B Misdemeanor. 625 ILCS 5/11-601.5 (a). Traveling at a speed 35 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit is a Class A Misdemeanor. 625 ILCS 5/11-601.5 (b).
Penalties for a petty offense are a fine of between $75.00 and $1,000.00. 730 ILCS 5/4.5-75. There would be no jail sentence upon conviction. There may be driver’s license consequences, depending on the number of prior traffic convictions. A driver may be eligible for Court Supervision, depending on the person’s driving record.
The maximum penalty for a Class B Misdemeanor is 180 days in County Jail and a $1,500.00 fine. 730 ILCS 5/4.5-60. Misdemeanors are crimes. Some prosecutors will allow an amendment of this misdemeanor speeding charge to a petty speeding charge. This way, the driver does not have a criminal record for speeding. Any amendment would depend on the driver’s prior record and cooperation from the prosecutor. There may be conditions to any amendment.
Finally, the maximum penalty for a Class A Misdemeanor is 364 days in County Jail and a $2,500.00 fine. 730 ILCS 5/4.5-55. A driver must be accused of driving 35 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or more to be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. This is a serious speeding charge, often with the person charged traveling more than 100 miles per hour. Again, charges may be amended to a lesser misdemeanor or a petty offense, depending on the driver’s prior record. Any amendment would likely require significant conditions.
For your safety and the safety of everyone on the road, DO NOT SPEED. If you speed, I hope this short blog has made you aware of the possible penalties for speeding.