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The Limits of Limits

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Driving, Faster than the Speed Limit

S. Z. Jessel from Toronto, Ontario wrote:

According to Jewish Law, can you go 65 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone?


Dear S. Z. Jessel,

I posed your question to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, who said that 'speeding' is prohibited because of the concept 'Dina d'Malchuta Dina' - 'Civil law is Halacha.' He pointed out that this might even be considered a Torah prohibition.

However, Rabbi Scheinberg said the definition of 'speeding' depends not on what's written in the traffic codes but on how the law is enforced. If the authorities are not so strict - for instance, they won't give you a ticket for going 65 mph - then it would be halachically OK to go 65, although he does not advocate exceeding the posted limit. If, on the other hand, they are strict and would fine you, then it would be forbidden.

He felt that the authorities in the USA are generally not so strict about people going 65 mph in a 55 zone, and therefore it would be permitted. This does NOT mean that if you get a ticket for going 65 you don't have to pay it!

I am reminded of one person who did get caught going 75 in a 55 zone.

"I know I was going 75, officer, but my wife is having a baby and I have to get her to the hospital as fast as possible."
"But your wife isn't in the car" said the policeman
"Zoinks! You know how you forget things when you're in a hurry!"

 
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