Let’s face it, although based upon logic, the setting of a speed limit is still just an arbitrary number. Drive 55 mph on a highway and you are fine…drive 56 mph and you are breaking the law. In reality, are you a greater risk to the motoring public if you drive 56 mph, rather than the posted 55 mph…probably not. However that one little mph can make a huge difference in terms of fines, resulting insurance rates and accident liability.
TRAFFIC FINES. Will most law enforcement give you a ticket for exceeding the speed limit by just a few miles per hour? Most won’t…but some will. Because it is an arbitrary number however, and a “non-intent” crime, you are either speeding, or you aren’t. There is no grey area or interpretation of the law needed. Hardly fair, but it is the law.
INSURANCE RATES. Typically, if there is a speeding “violation” on your driving record, insurance companies can use that violation as an excuse to raise your premiums, or disqualify you for safe driving bonuses. The Minnesota legislature however, has recognized the unfairness of using a minor infraction to raise insurance rates and in 1986 passed the so-called “Dimler Amendment” (Minn. Stat. 171.12, subd. 6.) to rectify that practice in limited circumstances.
The “Dimler Amendment” governs which speeding violations are recorded on a driver’s driving record with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. This law not only prevents certain speeding violations from being placed on a driver’s record, but also precludes a driver’s insurance company from being notified of certain speeding tickets. It applies, however, in only two limited, but common, situations: (1) driving no more than 10 mph over the speed limit in a 55 mph zone; and (2) driving no more than 5 mph over the speed limit in a 60 mph zone. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, have a commercial driver’s license, or do not fit within these narrow exceptions, your speeding violation still goes on your driving record.
LIABILITY. Under Minnesota law, if you are exceeding the posted speed limit, even by one mph, you forfeit any “right of way” you might otherwise have. Minn. Stat. §169.20, subd. (d). This means if you are driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone, and you collide with another vehicle that pulls out in front of you…you lose your statutory “right of way” simply because you were exceeding the posted limit.
While all drivers should adhere to the basic rules of the road and obey all posted speed limits, it is also important to understand the consequences, however minor, of violating those laws.