Tolerance in speed zones may be lower when limit bumps up to 70 mph

DODGE COUNTY -- For those who can't drive 65, it's almost here. Wisconsin will soon become the latest state to make the shift to a 70 mile-per-hour speed limit on many interstates.

"We've heard people talk about it. Everybody drives 70 anyway," said Mike Held.

Held sees plenty of traffic on what used to be U.S. 41. But for some, the new Interstate 41 signs come with some worry that the new speed limit may be "misinterpreted."

"Everybody tries to push the limit a little bit -- to see how far they can go before they get caught," said Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt.

While drivers are typically given a bit of a buffer, Sheriff Schmidt says he's looking for a little less leniency. That is, if drivers try to test this tolerance when the speed limit shoots up to 70.

"What I'm going to be asking our deputies is to actually bring that down a little bit. Make our presence known -- and pull some people over," said Schmidt. "Not necessarily to issue citations right away. But pull them over and let them know that our tolerance for those speed zones is going to be much lower."

The idea, the sheriff explains, is to keep people safe.

"Whenever there's an increase in speed, there is typically an increase in the severity of injuries when there is a crash," said Schmidt.

The sheriff adds, the speed limit is just that -- a limit to the top, traveling speed. So drivers are welcome, even encouraged, to drive at slower speeds.

Rural interstate segments in Wisconsin where speed limits will be raised to 70 mph:

Highway From To Miles
I-94 Illinois State Line Milwaukee County Line 25
I-94 I-39/90 in Dane County WIS 164 in Waukesha County 57
I-39/90 Illinois State line US 12 in Dane County 41
I-39/90/94 US 151 in Dane County I-39 split in Columbia County 22
I-39 I-90/94 split in Columbia County WIS 54 in Portage County 65
I-39 WIS 66 in Portage County Bus 51 in Marathon County 26
I-90/94 I-39/90/94 in Columbia County I-90 in Monroe County 63
I-90 I-94 in Monroe County US 53 in La Crosse County 37
I-94 I-90 in Monroe County US 53 in Eau Claire County 77
I-94 WIS 312 in Eau Claire County WIS 35 in St. Croix County 55
I-43 County T in Ozaukee County WIS 29 in Brown County 91
I-43 I-39 in Rock County WIS 164 in Waukesha County 54
I-41 South Washington County Line WIS 441 in Winnebago County 93
I-41 WIS 441 in Outagamie County WIS 172 in Brown County 20

Brief history of speed limits in Wisconsin: