Ohio law provides for special rules regarding school zones in the state. These laws spell out precisely what can be considered a school zone, how school zone are marked, the rules that drivers must follow and the penalties drivers face for breaking the state's traffic laws regarding school zones.
Speed Limits and Signage
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Special speed limits are allowed near schools in Ohio. According to Revised Code 4511.21, the speed limit in school zones in the state is 20 mph during school recess and during the opening and closing hours of schools. Signs designating the start of the school zone are required for the speed limit to be enforceable. Signs indicating the end of the school zone are optional. Signage does not need to include flashing lights, and it also does not need to identify the hours during which the school zone speed limit is in effect.
Defining a School Zone
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School zones are allowed only in areas where there is a school that is chartered with the state or a nonchartered school that is approved through the state department of education. School zones do not apply to private daycare facilities when they are not chartered with the state or otherwise approved as meeting Ohio minimum standards. School zones can apply to colleges and universities.
School Zone Boundaries
School zones are only allowed in certain geographic areas. They are only in effect for 300 feet before and after a given point. The point can be the school property line, the school building line or a school crosswalk location. The person in charge of roadways for the jurisdiction makes the determination of which point to use for measuring the start and stop point of school zones in Ohio.
High Speed Driving Exemptions
Some roadways are exempt from school zone speed limits. Both highways and expressways with controlled pedestrian access can have normal speed limits for those types of roadways in Ohio. Controlled access generally takes the form of fencing which cuts off pedestrian access. Essentially, these roadways are safe for higher speed driving because there is no likelihood of children or other pedestrians walking into the roadway.
Penalties for Violation
A minor misdemeanor speeding offense in Ohio carries a maximum possible penalty of $150 plus court costs. Speeding in a school zone receives twice the regular penalty in some counties; thus, speeding in a school zone could warrant a penalty of as much as $300 plus court costs. If you are going above 35 mph in a school zone when children are on recess or coming or going from school, then you may be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable with up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. Speeding violations in Ohio also result in points being added to a driver’s license. Points remain on your license for two years. Points for speeding are based on the number of miles per hour over the speed limit the driver is going. If you reach 12 points in a two-year period, the state suspends your driving privileges for six months.