Top 11 Strictest States for Speeding

By: Bridget Clerkin September 21, 2018
Hit the brakes and drive responsibly in these states... or risk the wrath of the harshest penalties in the nation.
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In a world where so much can be done instantly, it can be easy to take the concept of speed for granted. But one place to never underestimate that kind of power is on the road.

Speeding was responsible for 10,111 deaths in 2016—more than a quarter of total roadway fatalities that year. Even without leading to such a tragic outcome, the dangerous habit can come with dire consequences, including the accrual of points on a license or even the suspension of driving privileges.

Still, some states are more likely to dole out the punishments—and make them more painful—than others.

Statistics website WalletHub recently ran the numbers, accounting for a number of factors that may make a state “stricter” than others when it comes to speeding.

Some considerations included:

  • Whether the region would allow a driver to argue in court that his or her speed was reasonable (called a “prima facie” speeding law).
  • How much, on average, a driver’s insurance increased in the state after receiving a citation.
  • How many laws were in place to prohibit drag racing.
  • Minimum jail time for speeding.
  • Maximum fines for driving too fast.
  • How much a single speeding ticket counts toward a license suspension, among other measures.

Keep reading to see which states took home the top 11 rankings—including a tie for 4th and a four-way tie for 11th place.

#11 (Tie)—Washington State, Alabama, Virginia & Illinois


Washington State

If you want to drive fast in Washington State, you’d better be willing to pay the price.

The Evergreen State ranked 8th overall for speeding enforcement and 12th in the nation for harshest penalties related to reckless driving, thanks in part to the hefty fines it attaches to speeding tickets.

Washington clocked in with the second-highest maximum fine in the country for reckless driving, on both a first and second offense.


The southern state provides no sweet home for speeders.

While Alabama ranked middle of the pack for speeding ticket enforcement—and a single citation there will do less than nearly every other state toward getting a license suspended—the region was deemed the 7th harshest for exacting penalties on reckless driving.


When it comes to enforcing speeding, Virginia is number one.

The Commonwealth State topped every other region in the country thanks to its absolute speed limit—meaning drivers have no legal wiggle room to argue that their pace was reasonable—and its stance that speeding a certain amount over a posted limit is automatically akin to reckless driving, which is considered a much more serious crime.

Keeping it out of the absolute top spot on the list was its 25th-place finish for exacting reckless driving penalties.


The Land of Lincoln likes to keep its drivers as honest as its presidential namesake.

Ranking 4th overall for speeding enforcement, Illinois records the country’s third-highest maximum fine for a first conviction of reckless driving, as well as the fifth-highest maximum fine for a second conviction.

And the state shows little tolerance for speeders, with one speeding citation there going further than any other state toward a license suspension.

#7—North Carolina


The Tar Heel State does a lot to keep its residents moving slowly.

Another absolute speed limit state, where driving 15 MPH over the posted limit can equate to an automatic reckless driving charge, North Carolina ranked 5th in the country for speeding enforcement.

The state also makes residents pay in other ways for their actions. It came second only to Alaska in how much the cost of car insurance will rise, on average, after a resident receives a speeding citation.



Speeding certainly doesn’t pay in the Beaver State.

Oregon residents tagged with reckless driving can expect the nation’s most expensive citation for the charge on both the first and second convictions.

The state also ranked in the top 10 for both overall reckless driving penalties and speeding enforcement, placing 6th and 8th respectively.



Can California get any more expensive?

The Golden State ranked 5th in the country for the average rise in car insurance rates following a speeding ticket, and it finished 11th overall for speeding enforcement.

The state also takes reckless driving seriously, placing 4th in the country for overall strictest penalties, mostly thanks to the costly fines attached to them.

#4 (Tie)—New Mexico & Arizona

New Mexico

It may be the Land of Enchantment, but drivers aren’t likely to charm their way out of a speeding penalty.

New Mexico is the 4th-strictest state in the nation in terms of how far one citation will go toward a license suspension.

The state also ranked 7th for the weight of its reckless driving penalties, and 2nd overall for the tightest enforcement of speeding.


Not to be outdone by its southwestern neighbor, the Grand Canyon State also placed 7th overall for its reckless driving penalties and tied New Mexico for second place in speeding enforcement.

The state stands apart, however, for its reckless driving fines, which are the fifth-highest in the nation for a second conviction.



The Centennial State notched the number two spot for harshest reckless driving penalties in the country, with the hefty amount of potential jail time attached to the charge doing much to boost its ranking.

Speeders don’t get off any easier, with Colorado also pulling an 11th-place finish for tightest speeding enforcement.



The First State is also number one when it comes to speeding enforcement.

Delaware topped the nation for toughest penalties attached to reckless driving, thanks both to the hefty fines and jail time that could be doled out to offenders, even on a first conviction.

It also placed 8th highest for overall speeding enforcement, due to speeding cameras used to track drivers and its absolute speed limit, among other factors.

Luckily, the state is so small, drivers can make it through the entire area quickly, even when following all posted limits.

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