I frequently receive phone calls from clients who have received a speeding ticket for driving at a high rate of speed. While speaking with these clients, it is not uncommon for me to find out that they were driving at such a high rate of speed that I need to explain to them that what they are charged with is not your typical, run-of-the-mill, speeding ticket. I end up having to explain to them that what they are facing is a criminal charge that carries a possible jail sentence in County Jail. Let me explain how a speeding ticket in Illinois can land you in jail and lead to a criminal conviction that would appear on your record in a routine background search.
Most speeding tickets are considered a petty offense. The typical speeding ticket carries a fine only. This means that you cannot go to jail for your typical speeding ticket. Basically, Illinois Law provides that you cannot drive at a speed that is “greater than is reasonable and proper with regards to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property.” This basically means that you must drive at a safe speed. What is considered a safe speed depends on the conditions at the time. In other words, what is considered a safe speed may vary depending on the time of day and the weather conditions. However, if you are caught driving above the absolute speed limit, you may receive a ticket for speeding regardless of the time of day and conditions. If the speed limit is 55 and you are driving faster than the speed limit, you may receive a ticket regardless of the weather conditions or the time of day. The defense that you were driving with “the flow of traffic” will not work in Court. If the speed limit is 55 and you are driving 55 miles an hour in a blizzard while all the other cars on the roadway are driving at 30 miles an hour, you may receive a ticket for speeding even though you did not exceed the posted speed limit. As you can tell, being found guilty of speeding above the posted speed limit is much easier for the prosecutor to prove in court than it is for them to prove that you were driving greater than what was reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway.
The absolute speed limit is posted on signs. In general, the absolute speed limits on Illinois roads are as follows, unless posted otherwise: