When Is It Illegal To Drive Below the Speed Limit?

Driving too slowly can impede the flow of traffic and create risk for other drivers, which is why it’s illegal in most states. Learn more here!
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Oct 25, 2022
Driving too slowly can impede traffic flow and create risk for other drivers, which is why it’s illegal in most states. But, in bad weather and school or construction zones, slowing down is never a bad idea.
We all know driving too fast will result in a speeding ticket, but what about driving too slowly? You might be surprised to learn that this, too, is illegal in most states. Driving too slowly can cause other motorists to swerve or slam on their brakes, creating a dangerous situation that could lead to accidents. Even if your slow speed doesn’t result in a crash, it could result in traffic jams and possibly even road rage.
Here to help you understand when driving below the speed limit is illegal and when it’s advisable is
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Is it illegal to drive below the speed limit?

Usually, yes. Driving too slowly in normal conditions can be dangerous, and it can result in gridlock, which is why most states have laws against it. On interstates and some major two-lane highways, you might even see these minimums posted on speed limit signs along with the maximum speed limit. 
However, there are some situations in which it is simply too dangerous to drive the speed limit. That’s why you’re expected to drive at a reduced speed during bad weather, or in areas where traveling at a higher speed can be dangerous for workers, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
Even in states with minimum speed limits, the minimums are almost always subjective—it’s up to law enforcement to determine whether you’re traveling at a rate of speed that impedes the flow of traffic or puts other drivers’ safety at risk. 
In general, traveling a few miles per hour below the speed limit is not illegal, but if you slow to the point where you’re impeding the reasonable movement of traffic, you can expect to be pulled over. You might also expect some colorful hand gestures from the drivers around you.
Pro Tip How slow you’re going may be less important than how your speed impacts the normal flow of traffic.

When is it a good idea to drive below the posted speed limit?

While it can be illegal to drive below the speed limit in average circumstances, there are certain situations in which it is actually smart to slow down. 

In construction zones

In general, construction zones will have their own posted speed limits, but it’s doubtful anyone will fault you for going a little slower—especially not the construction workers. That said, anything more than five or ten miles per hour below the posted limit may cause some ruffled feathers from the drivers behind you.

In inclement weather conditions

Inclement weather can pose numerous risks to you and other drivers, so slowing down is not only a good idea, it’s expected. Whether you’re faced with wet or slick road conditions or your visibility is impeded by fog, rain, snow, or even dust, if the driving conditions aren’t optimal, ease up on that accelerator. 

In school zones

Like construction zones, school zones have their own posted speed limits. However, especially during the hours when students are arriving and getting picked up from classes, it’s always a good idea to let up on the gas. 

Special circumstances

There are a number of special circumstances that require drivers to suspend their focus on basic speed laws in favor of using their judgment to determine a safe speed. For example, you should slow down if you encounter the following:
  • Pedestrians or bicyclists in the road
  • Rough or compromised road surfaces
  • Motor vehicles on the side of the road
  • School buses
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Which states have minimum speed laws?

Most states impose a minimum speed limit of 40 mph on interstates and highways, but side roads and surface streets tend not to have an applicable minimum speed. In addition, many states are beginning to impose anti-gridlock laws to keep slower travelers out of the left lane—or passing lane—on highways.

How to find cheap car insurance in your state

Sometimes, slowing down is the only way to ensure you keep yourself and other drivers safe. But in general, following all traffic laws—including speed limit laws—should be your primary focus when behind the wheel. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, even the best of us can wind up with a ticket.
Driving too slowly is classified as an infraction in most states, but it can still result in an increase in your
car insurance
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