is speeding a crime

Is Speeding a Crime?

In most cases, a speeding ticket or similar moving violation is not a criminal offense. Speeding is typically an infraction that carries a potential fine but no jail time. A ticket may stay on your driver’s record for several years, but it will not show up as a conviction on your criminal record. But in some serious cases, a prosecutor may charge you with a crime for speeding.

Infractions vs. Criminal Offenses

The difference between infractions and criminal offenses is simple, but it is an important one. And like with most laws, the differences can vary from state to state. For the most part, an infraction is something less than a criminal offense. It doesn’t carry the possibility of jail time and won’t result in a criminal record. In most states, prosecutors can charge juveniles adult traffic court with an infraction instead of facing the charge in juvenile court.

A criminal offense is something more severe than a mere infraction. Unlike an infraction, a conviction of a criminal offense will likely wind up on your record. What’s more, there is also the potential for jail time in addition to any fines that may be assessed.

Is Speeding a Crime? Some Examples

Ultimately, whether or not the state treats speeding as a criminal offense or an infraction depends on the laws of the state you are in. However, in most jurisdictions speeding can be charged as a criminal offense if you are caught travelling a certain speed above the legal limit. To illustrate how those rules differ, we have outlined examples from a few jurisdictions both in the United States and abroad.

Is speeding a crime in Texas?

In Texas, it is illegal to travel “at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.” Typically, this means at a speed above the posted speed limit. But in bad conditions, any speed could be considered unreasonable.

Speeding charges work a little differently in Texas; the state is often lenient on fast drivers and has the fastest stretch of highway in the country. There isn’t a criminal charge in Texas strictly for speeding. However, you could face other charges like reckless driving or racing on a highway if you drive fast enough.


In Illinois, infractions are petty offenses. According to state law, it is illegal to travel 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 means that driving at an unsafe speed. This is true even when it is below the posted maximum.

Under Illinois law, speeding is only a criminal offense if you are caught going a certain number of miles per hour above the speed limit. If you are charged for traveling between 1 and 25 miles per hour above the speed limit, you will only face a potential fine and traffic school. But at 26 miles above the speed limit or more, you will be charged with a criminal offense. If you travel more than 35 miles over the speed limit, you could face a maximum jail sentence of up to one year.


The traffic laws in Canada are similar to those in American jurisdictions. In fact, there are both provincial as well as federal laws that can apply to traffic offenses in Canada. And just like in the United States, you can be charged with a criminal offense under the Criminal Code of Canada if you are traveling at a high enough speed.

For excessive speeding, you could face up to six months in jail for a conviction under the Criminal Code. And it is possible that you could wind up being charged both criminally under the federal code as well as with an infraction under provincial law. These provincial charges can carry serious consequences too; in Brittish Columbia, for example, excessive speeding can cost you nearly $500 in fines.