20-141. Speed restrictions.

(a) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway or in a public vehicular area at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, it shall be unlawful to operate a vehicle in excess of the following speeds:

(1) Thirty-five miles per hour inside municipal corporate limits for all vehicles.

(2) Fifty-five miles per hour outside municipal corporate limits for all vehicles except for school buses and school activity buses.

(c) Except while towing another vehicle, or when an advisory safe-speed sign indicates a slower speed, or as otherwise provided by law, it shall be unlawful to operate a passenger vehicle upon the interstate and primary highway system at less than the following speeds:

(1) Forty miles per hour in a speed zone of 55 miles per hour.

(2) Forty-five miles per hour in a speed zone of 60 miles per hour or greater.

These minimum speeds shall be effective only when appropriate signs are posted indicating the minimum speed.

(d) (1) Whenever the Department of Transportation determines on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that any speed allowed by subsection (b) is greater than is reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist upon any part of a highway outside the corporate limits of a municipality or upon any part of a highway designated as part of the Interstate Highway System or any part of a controlled-access highway (either inside or outside the corporate limits of a municipality), the Department of Transportation shall determine and declare a reasonable and safe speed limit.

(2) Whenever the Department of Transportation determines on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that a higher maximum speed than those set forth in subsection (b) is reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist upon any part of a highway designated as part of the Interstate Highway System or any part of a controlled-access highway (either inside or outside the corporate limits of a municipality) the Department of Transportation shall determine and declare a reasonable and safe speed limit. A speed limit set pursuant to this subsection may not exceed 70 miles per hour.

Speed limits set pursuant to this subsection are not effective until appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected upon the parts of the highway affected.

(e) Local authorities, in their respective jurisdictions, may authorize by ordinance higher speeds or lower speeds than those set out in subsection (b) upon all streets which are not part of the State highway system; but no speed so fixed shall authorize a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour. Speed limits set pursuant to this subsection shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected upon the part of the streets affected.

(e1) Local authorities within their respective jurisdictions may authorize, by ordinance, lower speed limits than those set in subsection (b) of this section on school property. If the lower speed limit is being set on the grounds of a public school, the local school administrative unit must request or consent to the lower speed limit. If the lower speed limit is being set on the grounds of a private school, the governing body of the school must request or consent to the lower speed limit. Speed limits established pursuant to this subsection shall become effective when appropriate signs giving notice of the speed limit are erected upon affected property. A person who drives a motor vehicle on school property at a speed greater than the speed limit set and posted under this subsection is responsible for an infraction and is required to pay a penalty of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00).

(f) Whenever local authorities within their respective jurisdictions determine upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that a higher maximum speed than those set forth in subsection (b) is reasonable and safe, or that any speed hereinbefore set forth is greater than is reasonable and safe, under the conditions found to exist upon any part of a street within the corporate limits of a municipality and which street is a part of the State highway system (except those highways designated as part of the interstate highway system or other controlled-access highway) said local authorities shall determine and declare a safe and reasonable speed limit. A speed limit set pursuant to this subsection may not exceed 55 miles per hour. Limits set pursuant to this subsection shall become effective when the Department of Transportation has passed a concurring ordinance and signs are erected giving notice of the authorized speed limit.

When local authorities annex a road on the State highway system, the speed limit posted on the road at the time the road was annexed shall remain in effect until both the Department and municipality pass concurrent ordinances to change the speed limit.

The Department of Transportation is authorized to raise or lower the statutory speed limit on all highways on the State highway system within municipalities which do not have a governing body to enact municipal ordinances as provided by law. The Department of Transportation shall determine a reasonable and safe speed limit in the same manner as is provided in G.S. 20-141(d)(1) and G.S. 20-141(d)(2) for changing the speed limits outside of municipalities, without action of the municipality.

(g) Whenever the Department of Transportation or local authorities within their respective jurisdictions determine on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that slow speeds on any part of a highway considerably impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, the Department of Transportation or such local authority may determine and declare a minimum speed below which no person shall operate a motor vehicle except when necessary for safe operation in compliance with law. Such minimum speed limit shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected on said part of the highway. Provided, such minimum speed limit shall be effective as to those highways and streets within the corporate limits of a municipality which are on the State highway system only when ordinances adopting the minimum speed limit are passed and concurred in by both the Department of Transportation and the local authorities. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to farm tractors and other motor vehicles operating at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles.

(h) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on the highway at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law; provided, this provision shall not apply to farm tractors and other motor vehicles operating at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles.

(i) The Department of Transportation shall have authority to designate and appropriately mark certain highways of the State as truck routes.

(j) Repealed by Session Laws 1997, c. 443, s. 19.26(b).

(j1) A person who drives a vehicle on a highway at a speed that is either more than 15 miles per hour more than the speed limit established by law for the highway where the offense occurred or over 80 miles per hour is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(j2) A person who drives a motor vehicle in a highway work zone at a speed greater than the speed limit set and posted under this section shall be required to pay a penalty of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00). This penalty shall be imposed in addition to those penalties established in this Chapter. A "highway work zone" is the area between the first sign that informs motorists of the existence of a work zone on a highway and the last sign that informs motorists of the end of the work zone. The additional penalty imposed by this subsection applies only if signs are posted at the beginning and end of any segment of the highway work zone stating the penalty for speeding in that segment of the work zone. The Secretary shall ensure that work zones shall only be posted with penalty signs if the Secretary determines, after engineering review, that the posting is necessary to ensure the safety of the traveling public due to a hazardous condition.

A law enforcement officer issuing a citation for a violation of this section while in a highway work zone shall indicate the vehicle speed and speed limit posted in the segment of the work zone, and determine whether the individual committed a violation of G.S. 20-141(j1). Upon an individual's conviction of a violation of this section while in a highway work zone, the clerk of court shall report that the vehicle was in a work zone at the time of the violation, the vehicle speed, and the speed limit of the work zone to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

(j3) A person is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor if the person drives a commercial motor vehicle carrying a load that is subject to the permit requirements of G.S. 20-119 upon a highway or any public vehicular area at a speed of 15 miles per hour or more above either:

(1) The posted speed; or

(2) The restricted speed, if any, of the permit, or if no permit was obtained, the speed that would be applicable to the load if a permit had been obtained.

(k) Repealed by Session Laws 1995 (Regular Session, 1996), c. 652, s. 1.

(l) Notwithstanding any other provision contained in G.S. 20-141 or any other statute or law of this State, including municipal charters, any speed limit on any portion of the public highways within the jurisdiction of this State shall be uniformly applicable to all types of motor vehicles using such portion of the highway, if on November 1, 1973, such portion of the highway had a speed limit which was uniformly applicable to all types of motor vehicles using it. Provided, however, that a lower speed limit may be established for any vehicle operating under a special permit because of any weight or dimension of such vehicle, including any load thereon. The requirement for a uniform speed limit hereunder shall not apply to any portion of the highway during such time as the condition of the highway, weather, an accident, or other condition creates a temporary hazard to the safety of traffic on such portion of the highway.

(m) The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the foregoing limits shall not relieve the operator of a vehicle from the duty to decrease speed as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway, and to avoid injury to any person or property.

(n) Notwithstanding any other provision contained in G.S. 20-141 or any other statute or law of this State, the failure of a motorist to stop his vehicle within the radius of its headlights or the range of his vision shall not be held negligence per se or contributory negligence per se.

(o) A violation of G.S. 20-123.2 shall be a lesser included offense in any violation of this section, and shall be subject to the following limitations and conditions:

(1) A violation of G.S. 20-123.2 shall be recorded in the driver's official record as "Improper equipment - Speedometer."

(2) The lesser included offense under this subsection shall not apply to charges of speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit.

No drivers license points or insurance surcharge shall be assessed on account of a violation of this subsection.

(p) A driver charged with speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit shall be ineligible for a disposition of prayer for judgment continued. (1937, c. 297, s. 2; c. 407, s. 103; 1939, c. 275; 1941, c. 347; 1947, c. 1067, s. 17; 1949, c. 947, s. 1; 1953, c. 1145; 1955, c. 398; c. 555, ss. 1, 2; c. 1042; 1957, c. 65, s. 11; c. 214; 1959, c. 640; c. 1264, s. 10; 1961, cc. 99, 1147; 1963, cc. 134, 456, 949; 1967, c. 106; 1971, c. 79, ss. 1-3; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; c. 1330, s. 7; 1975, c. 225; 1977, c. 367; c. 464, s. 34; c. 470; 1983, c. 131; 1985, c. 764, ss. 29, 30; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 852, s. 17; 1987, c. 164; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 818, s. 1; c. 1034, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, ss. 366, 367; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 652, s. 1; 1997-341, s. 1; 1997-443, s. 19.26(b); 1997-488, s. 1; 1999-330, s. 3; 2000-109, s. 7(c); 2003-110, s. 1; 2004-203, s. 70(a); 2005-349, s. 11; 2007-380, ss. 1, 2; 2009-234, ss. 1, 2; 2011-64, s. 2; 2012-194, s. 9; 2013-360, s. 18B.14(k).)