On January 1, 2014, Illinois will become the 37th state to approve speed limits of 70 m.p.h. or higher in its borders. Governor Pat Quinn recently approved SB 2356, raising the speed limit on rural interstate highways from 65 m.p.h. to 70 m.p.h. The maximum speed limit will remain 65 m.p.h. for all or part of rural highways that are designated by the Department, have at least 4 lanes of traffic, and have a separation between the roadways moving in opposite directions. Fifty-five m.p.h. will continue to be the maximum speed limit for vehicles traveling on all other highways, roads, and streets outside an urban district.
The 70 m.p.h. may not be the maximum speed on every segment of Illinois interstate highway, however. The law does allow eight heavily traveled counties in Illinois to opt out of the higher speed by adopting a local law that sets a lower speed limit. The counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, which comprise the Chicago region, and Madison and St. Clair, near St. Louis, all have this option. These counties may also adopt ordinances setting maximum speed limits on other highways, roads, and streets lower than the limits listed above.
Regardless, whether the six-county Chicago region decides to implement or opt out of the higher speed limit of 70 m.p.h. on rural interstate highways, the maximum speed limit for commercial motor vehicles outside an urban district in these counties will remain 55 m.p.h. unless some lesser speed restriction is established. 625 ILCS 5/11-601(e).
The bill also lowers the threshold at which motorists can be charged with excessive speeding from 31 m.p.h to 26 m.p.h.