Traffic courts treat speeding in a highway work area more seriously than a regular speeding offenses. If you are convicted of speeding in a work zone, the fines are doubled pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1180f. Further, some courts will not plea bargain speed in work zone tickets. The reasoning behind this harsher treatment is that along such stretches of roadway, there is a higher risk of injuries and fatalities occurring to construction workers and police officers. Also, slower speeds are required to avoid accidents from reduced lane widths, lane shifts or one lane bridges. Interestingly, the points for a speeding ticket (3 to 11) do not increase when speeding in a work zone.
So what is a work zone or area? Under Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 160, a work area is that part of a highway which is being used or occupied for the conduct of highway work, within which workers, vehicles, equipment, materials, supplies, excavations or other obstructions are present. Note that actual construction need not be in progress to violate this law. Rather, as long as you are traveling through a posted work zone (even off hours), you must obey the reduced speed. Work zone speed signs are usually orange with black numbering and lettering and work areas are often marked with orange barrels. Further, the reduced speed must be posted and cannot be more than 20 mph less than the usually posted limit, and may not be less than 25 mph under section 1180f.