Speeding in a work zone is more dangerous than speeding on a regular stretch of a highway. Workers on the side of the road are particularly vulnerable to fatal or serious accidents. In fact, sadly, we’ve had too many tragedies caused by unsafe driving in work zones. The New York Legislature and DMV have, therefore, responded by making speeding in a work zone a more serious offense than regular speeding.
A work area is defined under Vehicle And Traffic Law Section 160 as “that part of a highway being used or occupied for the conduct of highway work, within which workers, vehicle, equipment, materials, supplies, excavations, or other obstructions are present”. As defined above, even when work is not actively being done (i.e., off hours), it is still considered a “work area”.
Speeding in a work zone is treated more seriously than a regular speeding ticket in various ways. First, the minimum fines are doubled for motorists convicted of speeding in a work zone. Below is a fine schedule for a speeding ticket conviction (exclusive of surcharge):
Exceeded speed limit by 1 to 10 mph: $45 (min.) to $150 (max.)
Exceeded speed limit by 11 to 30 mph: $90 (min.) to $300 (max.)
Exceeded speed limit by 31+ mph: $180 (min.) to $600 (max.)
For a speeding in work zone conviction, the basic minimum fines jump to $90, $180 and $360 respectively. For a second work zone speed conviction, the maximum fines are $300, $450 and $750, respectively. The points for a speeding in a work zone remain the same, however.
Second, two convictions for speeding in a work zone within 18 months will result in an automatic loss of your driving privileges. For regular speeding offenses, the automatic revocation does not get triggered until you have three speeding convictions within the same time period.
Further, in some upstate courts, the prosecutor and/or judge take hardline attitudes towards violations in a work zone. Specifically, some courts refuse to plea bargain speed in work zone tickets. Others will plea bargain but only by reducing a work zone speeding charge to a regular speeding charge. This saves the motorist some money but the points remain the same, clearly not a great deal.
Finally, while rare, up to 15 days of imprisonment can be ordered for a speeding conviction of 11+ mph. In a work zone, the maximum imprisonment period is 30 days.
Next time, you see bright orange signs warning of a work zone, check your speed. The consequences can be quite severe and, of course, safety dictates slowing down.