Illinois Statute: 625 ILCS 5/11-601(a)

Facing any legal issue can be stressful for all parties involved. However, incidents that occur on the road are often the most common. Even the most cautious and safe of drivers are likely to experience a traffic ticket at some point in their lives. Sometimes hazardous conditions caused by weather or construction can obstruct vision or change the surface of the roads. In other cases, internal or external distractions such as music or other passengers can cause a lapse in judgement while driving. As our city gets denser, and the flow of motor vehicles increases, the likelihood of receiving a ticket at some point intensifies. In a city like ours with such winding at steep roads at times, these situations can be inevitable. That all being said, there are some things that are simply out of our control. Though even if we can not go back and change the past or erase a certain mistake, what we can control is how we choose to move forward in our course of action. Even if you have tried your best to avoid an accident, they do happen. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, and are deemed the at fault driver by officers on the scene, it is critically important that you understand exactly what regulation you are being found in violation of, in order to build the best case of defense. At the Nold law firm, we want to ensure that our clients are informed.

Failure to reduce speed is one of the most common tickets issued when an accident occurs. This very same statute can also be violated if you are driving too fast for conditions. This statute discusses all of the situations in which you must adjust your speed, even if you are not in violation of the speed limit. However, pleading guilty to failure to reduce speed can have serious consequences, so it is extremely important to understand the associated laws.

The Law

No vehicle may be driven upon any highway of this State at a speed which is greater than is reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property. The fact that the speed of a vehicle does not exceed the applicable maximum speed limit does not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection, approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, or when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions. Speed must be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person or vehicle on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care. Choosing to reduce speed to avoid an accident is the right course of action, and failure to control your vehicle can cause serious damage. 

The Law – Explained

It is a violation of the statute if:

  1. Your vehicle is travelling greater than 0 mph and you strike a person or vehicle on or entering the highway
  2. You could not control the speed and were driving too fast for conditions
    1. You slide off the roadway due to Icy conditions
    2. The snow causes your vehicle to slide into another vehicle.
    3. You spin out. Even if no damage is caused, you could be cited.
  3. You rear end somebody, even if you barely make contact.

Duty to Decrease Speed

Driver’s have a duty to decrease speed when:

  • Approaching and crossing an intersection
  • Approaching and going around a curve
  • Approaching a hill crest
  • Traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway
  • Special hazards (i.e. people, cars, traffic, weather) exist on the roadway

Special Concerns

If anyone is injured or property is damaged as a result of an accident and you are at fault, a guilty plea to any citations may be used against you in a civil lawsuit. No matter what side of the equation in the accident you fall on, be it the at fault driver or not, you should consult with an attorney to fully protect yourself.


This is a petty offense with a maximum penalty of up to a $1,000 fine.

You CAN receive court supervision if you are guilty of this offense. Court supervision can prevent a failure to reduce speed ticket from going on your driving record. You must comply with the terms of supervision (i.e. pay your fines and complete your traffic safety school) in order to satisfy supervision.

General Outcome

Small fine plus court costs ($226) and a period of court supervision.

This is a Court Supervision eligible offense. A driver’s eligibility is mostly based on age and prior driving history, but the seriousness of the accident may be taken into consideration by some judges and prosecutors.

Read more about Court Supervision.

Can you be convicted of this offense?

Yes, this depends on several factors, including your age and prior driving record.

Fighting Failure to Reduce Speed Tickets

In almost every case, I will set a failure to reduce speed ticket for trial. It is always a good strategy to make civilian witnesses show up for trial because, oftentimes, they fail to appear for trial and the prosecutor has to dismiss the charge on the trial date. If civil litigation is ongoing, or there were major injuries, you should never enter a plea of guilty to this offense. If the judge finds you guilty, it cannot be used against you in the same fashion that an admission of guilt may be used against you. Protect yourself.If you are cited for failure to reduce speed or driving too fast for conditions, you should consult with an experienced traffic attorney to see if legal representation is right for you.