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Michigan Speed Limit Laws: Everything You Need To Know

September 16, 2020 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan Speed Limit Laws: Everything You Need To Know

Every driver needs to know about Michigan speed limit laws. There are specific maximum speed restrictions that apply to residential areas, work zones, freeways, trunk line highways and dirt or gravel roads. Some speeds must be posted, while others require no signs. The penalties for speeding are significant.

What is the Michigan basic speed law?

The Michigan basic speed law requires that a person driving “a vehicle” on a “highway” must drive “at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper” and that is not “greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead.” (MCL 257.627(1))

A violation of these requirements “shall be known and may be referred to as a violation of the basic speed law . . .” (MCL 257.627(1))

The Michigan Vehicle Code defines a “vehicle” as “every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway,” excluding “devices exclusively moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks . . .” (MCL 257.79) Additionally, the Vehicle Code defines a “highway” as a “way” that is “publicly maintained” and is “open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” (MCL 257.20)

What is the Michigan highway speed limit?

The Michigan highway speed limit is 70 mph unless a different maximum restriction is posted. This maximum applies on all “limited access freeways” which is what people are generally referring to when they talk about “highway” driving. This is known as the “limited access freeway general speed limit.” (MCL 257.627(8))

Although the Michigan Vehicle Code does not specifically define what a “limited access freeway” is, we can glean from the Code’s definitions of “freeway,” “through highway” and “limited access highway” as well as the Michigan Department of Transportation’s definitions that a “limited access freeway” is a divided highway that is “designed for the unimpeded movement of large volumes of traffic” and that can be accessed only at certain “points” such as interchanges or on- and off-ramps. (MCL 257.18a; 257.26; 257.68; and “MDOT Road Terms and Definitions”)

Examples of Michigan “freeways” include:

  • M-10 – Lodge Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • M-39 – Southfield Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • M-8 – Davison Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • I-696 – Walter P. Reuther Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • I-96 – Jeffries Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • I-94 – Edsel Ford Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • I-75 – Walter P Chrysler Freeway/Fisher Freeway (Metro Detroit)
  • I-69 – Chevrolet-Buick Freeway (Genesee County)
  • M-6 – South Beltline Freeway/Paul B. Henry Freeway (Kent/Ottawa County)

What is the Michigan minimum speed limit?

The minimum speed limit on all limited access freeways is 55 mph unless posted otherwise. (MCL 257.627(8))

Speed limit for trunk line and county highways

The speed limit on all trunk line highways and all county highways is 55 mph unless posted otherwise. This is known as the “general speed limit.” (MCL 257.627(9))

The Michigan Vehicle Code does not define what a “trunk line” highway is, but the MDOT’s “Road Terms and Definitions” page explains that “The State Trunkline in the State of Michigan consists of all roads under MDOT jurisdiction, including all Interstate routes, US routes, M routes, Interstate business loops and spurs, US business routes, M business routes, connector routes, and unsigned state trunkline in Michigan.”

What is the speed limit in residential areas in Michigan?

The speed limit in a residential subdivision is 25 mph. Until January 1, 2024, the speed limit on a local street in an area zoned for residential use is 25 mph “unless another speed is fixed and posted.” Also, the speed limit within the boundaries of a mobile home park is 15 mph. (MCL 257.627(2)(a), (d) and (e))

What is the speed limit in residential areas if not posted?

If it is not posted, the Michigan speed limit in a residential area is 25 mph. If the residential area is a mobile home park, then the speed limit is 15 mph.

Business districts

The speed limit in a business district is 25 mph. (MCL 257.627(2)(b)) However, this speed limit is valid only if a traffic control order has been filed with the clerk of the county in which the business district is located. (MCL 257.627(12))

Parks

In Michigan, the speed limit “within the boundaries of a public park” is 25 mph, but “a local authority” may decrease the maximum speed restriction so long as it is not less than 15 mph. (MCL 257.627(2)(c))

Work zones

in Michigan, the speed limit for a driver who is entering and passing through a work zone is 45 mph unless the MDOT or county or local road commission sets a different restriction. Signs must be posted for each work zone which indicate the speed limit for that work zone. (MCL 257.627(6))

School zones

The Michigan speed limit in school zones may be set at “not more than 20 miles per hour less than the speed limit normally posted but shall be not less than 25 miles per hour.” (MCL 257.627a(2))

What is the speed limit on dirt roads?

In Michigan, the speed limit on all county highways with a gravel or unimproved surface is 55 mph unless posted otherwise. This is known as the “general gravel road speed limit.” However, a municipality within a county with a population of 1 million or more can lower the speed limit to 45 mph. (MCL 257.627(10))

What is the speed limit on unmarked roads in Michigan?

In Michigan, the speed limit on unmarked roads is 25 mph in residential areas and 55 mph on trunk line and county highways. However, on other roads, if there is no properly posted speed limit sign, the “basic speed law” applies which requires a careful, prudent, reasonable and proper speed. (MCL 257.627(12))

Is it legal to go 5 miles over the speed limit?

No. It is not legal to go 5 miles over the speed limit. A driver who violates Michigan speed limit laws is responsible for a civil infraction. (MCL 257.627(16))

If a driver violates the speed limit on a “limited access freeway” where the “maximum speed limit is 55 miles per hour or more,” then he or she will have the following points put on their license and they will be required to pay the following fines (MCL 257.629c):

  • 1 to 5 mph over the speed limit: Zero (0) points and a $10 fine
  • 6 to 10 mph over the speed limit: One (1) point and a $20 fine
  • 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit: Two (2) points and a $30 fine
  • 16 to 25 mph over the speed limit: Three (3) points and a $40 fine
  • 26 mph or more over the speed limit: Four (4) points and a $50 fine

The points that apply to speed violations in work zones and roads other than “limited access freeways” are:

  • More than 15 mph over the speed limit in a work zone: Five (5) points (MCL 257.320a(1)(g))
  • More than 10 mph and up to 15 mph over the speed limit in a work zone: Four (4) (MCL 257.320a(1)(k))
  • 10 mph or less over the speed limit in a work zone: Three (3) points (MCL 257.320a(1)(w))
  • More than 15 mph over the speed limit (as set by law or ordinance): Four (4) points (MCL 257.320a(1)(h))
  • More than 10 mph and up to 15 mph over the speed limit (as set by law or ordinance): Three (3) points (MCL 257.320a(1)(n))
  • More than 5 mph and up to 10 mph over the speed limit (as set by law or ordinance): Two (2) points (MCL 257.320a(1)(p))
  • More than 1 mph and up to 5 mph over the speed limit (as set by law or ordinance): One (1) point (MCL 257.320a(1)(q))

How much over the Michigan speed limit is a felony?

Driving over Michigan speed limits is not a felony. However, depending on the circumstances, if a driver’s excessive speed constitutes “reckless driving,” then he or she could be guilty of a felony if his or her speeding causes the death or “serious impairment of body function” of another person. (MCL 257.626(3) and (4))

Additionally, if a driver goes over the maximum limits in a work zone or school bus zone and causes the death of another person in the work zone or school bus zone, then the driver is guilty of a felony, which is punishable by a fine of not more than $7,500 or up to 15 years in prison, or both. (MCL 257.601b(3))

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Michigan Speed Limit Laws: Everything You Need To Know

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