Speed limits are not usually at the forefront of your mind when traveling to such an incredibly iconic state as Washington, with its abundance of history and natural beauty. However, the state’s traffic authority sets clear and stringent guidelines that must be followed in order to avoid being slapped with a traffic ticket, points on your license, insurance increases, and even potential jail time!

If you are moving to Washington state, maybe just visiting from another state or country, or just commuting to and from work, understanding and having the correct knowledge of the speed limits in Washington state is so important to have and adhere to.

What is the speed limit in Washington state?

Understanding the correct speed limits is not only about avoiding potential punishment, it is also about driving safely on the roads to prevent accidents with another motorist or passersby from happening. Driving within the speed limit helps limit the possibility of potential crashes and car accidents, and promotes efficient use of the road, saving you from fines and potential license suspension.

Traffic laws, including speed limits and other motor vehicle-related laws, are established by the Washington state Department of Transportation. The state speed limits are defined by two different types of speed limits, basic speeding Washington state law, and absolute speed limits.

The basic speeding law prohibits driving “at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual hazards then existing”. This means that motorists must always drive at a safe speed for the conditions and environment they are driving in.

An example would be that if you were driving on a 65 mph road on a snowy evening in Washington, you would be required to slow down your speed to significantly less than the signed speed limit of 65 mph. This is because the weather and road conditions would be considered dangerous, and if you were caught driving at the signed limit, you may be slapped with a fine, and perhaps even worse consequences.

Washington State Speed Limits

The absolute speed limit in Washington is the speed limit you see signposted on roadways, there is absolutely no trick, what you see is what you get! If the weather conditions are ideal for driving you may drive at the maximum speed limit you see sign-posed. Surpassing the limit will likely cost you fines and other penalties.

Washington does not possess the highest maximum speed limit in the U.S., in fact, there are 16 other states that all have a higher maximum speed limit. The maximum speed limit at which you can travel on certain roads in Washington state is 70 mph.

Here are the different speed limits to look out for in Washington state:

  • 50 mph is the speed limit on residential roads (always double-check the posted speed limit).
  • School, hospital, and construction zones all have lower speed limits than anywhere else in the state, so, keep a lookout for the signed limit when entering these areas.
  • 65 mph is the maximum speed limit for undivided roads.
  • 65 mph is the maximum speed limit for divided roads.
  • The urban highway speed limit in Washington is 60 mph.
  • Rural highways in Washington are 70 mph.
  • What is the highest speed limit in Washington? Interstate highways and rural interstates in Washington are 70 mph, trucks that drive on an interstate highway must drive at a maximum of 60 mph (Washington truck speed limit).

When driving through residential areas and not a state highway, something to be aware of is schools, hospitals, and construction zones, as mentioned previously, these areas often have temporarily and permanently lowered speed limits and enforce these limits very strictly. You don’t want to receive a hefty fine or worse for not being aware of this.

Washington State Speed Limit Laws

In Washington state, there are no specific speeding tickets that are attached to certain limits, however, a speeding violation will likely cost you up to $250 in fines and an additional $17 in fees, with the addition of the maximum fine being doubled if you speed in school and playground crosswalks.

Unlike many other states, Washington state does not invoke a point system, however, the state does record each speeding violation onto your driving record. It is simple – if you accumulate too many moving violations, the state will suspend your license, and if it carries on, expect to receive even harsher penalties.

When visiting, passing through, or relocating your family to the state of Washington, it is understandable to have your mind focused on fun things to do, or places you need to be. However, knowing what the speed limit in Washington state is – and adhering to the signed limits – will ensure your time is well spent and minimize the chance of you being fined or getting into an accident.