What is speed limit in a construction zone?


The in basket: L.C. Smith, a one-time flagger with a Mason County public utility district,  says he wonders when he sees the signs about fines doubling in construction zones just what the speed limit is, especially when there is a flagger present.

He recalls a trooper once telling him it’s half the posted speed limit, but that was years ago, he said.

The out basket: If no reduced speed signs are posted, the speed limit is unchanged from normal conditions. It’s the fines that change, not the speed limit, in a work zone without a posted temporary speed limit. And, though the signs don’t say so, only speeding fines double. Fines for failure to yield and the myriad other possible violations remain the same. 

The presence of a flagger changes things, but no specific speed is established. State law says the following:

” A person who drives a vehicle in a roadway construction zone in such a manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger any persons or property, or who removes, evades, or intentionally strikes a traffic safety or control device is guilty of reckless endangerment of roadway workers. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor .

“The department shall suspend for sixty days the license or permit to drive or a nonresident driving privilege of a person convicted of reckless endangerment of roadway workers.”

The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is a year in jail and $5,000 fine, though maximum penalties usually aren’t imposed unless the defendant has a long record of similar offenses.


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