Understanding the Real Cost of Speeding Tickets in California: Penalties, Fees, and Ways to Fight

California Speeding Ticket Cost


Receiving a speeding ticket in California can lead to more than just a hefty fine. There are numerous hidden costs, varying fee structures, and potential impacts on one’s driving record. Beyond the initial shock of the fine, many drivers face the dilemma of understanding these charges and deciding whether to fight the ticket in court. This comprehensive guide sheds light on the multifaceted world of speeding tickets in the Golden State.

True Cost of a Speeding Ticket in California

One of the most common questions I get is that go into how much a California Speeding Ticket Costs? There are no simple answers because there is a variety of factors that go into how much a California Speeding Ticket costs. In this article, we will go into the Factors that go into the cost of speeding tickets. More specifically we will go into the calculations of penalties and assessments of traffic citations in California and their effects on your driving record.  

How much is a speeding ticket in California?

A speeding ticket in California will cost anywhere from 350-500 and 800-1200 if you are going over 100mph. However, in court, you will hear the judge say your fine is 25 dollars but it will come out 10 times more. In order to understand the cost, it is important penalties and assessments. This sounds confusing and it is. For example, a ticket costing $50 will cost significantly more after the penalties and assessment. In the end, a ticket with a base fine of only 50.00 will cost 250 or 300 dollars. For a full explanation of California, Tickets are calculated you can go to the Sacramento Superior Court Website page about how fines are calculated

Why is my bail amount so high, how is my bail amount calculated?

Your bail is the amount you would have to pay if you are convicted of the violation. It is calculated via a via a formula. For the formula, you can look at the table below. 

Why are traffic tickets so expensive in California

Each violation listed on a citation is assessed a base fine. In addition to the base fine, there are additional assessments added to make up the total fine amount due to the court.

An explanation of the base fine and assessment breakdown is shown below. The total fine amount due can also be increased by priors or points on a person’s driving record. If Traffic school is allowed, there is an additional $52.00 added to the total amount due.

This breakdown is applicable to Sacramento County and will parallel  to other counties.

Base Fine: [Insert Amount]

Set by legislation and the Judicial Council of California.

Penalty Assessment:

Penalty assessments are allocated for such items as court and jail facility construction and other items as noted below.

$10.00 per $10/base fine per PC 1464 goes 70% to State Trial Court Trust Fund; 30% to County General Fund.

$2.00 per $10/base fine per GC 76100 goes to the County Courthouse construction fund.

$2.50 per $10/base fine per GC 76101 goes to the County Jail Construction Fund.

$0.50 per $10/base fine per GC 76102 goes to County Automated Fingerprint Fund.

$2.00 per $10/base fine per GC 76104 goes to Maddy Emergency Medical Fund (State/County split).

$3.00 per $10/base fine per GC 70372.(a) goes to State Court Facilities Construction Fund.

$1.00 per $10/base fine per GC 76104.6 goes to the DNA Identification Fund (County/State split).

$4.00 per $10/base fine per GC 76104.7 goes to the DNA Identification Fund (County/State split). (First $1 per $10 effective on violations on/after 07/12/06; additional $2 per $10 effective on violations on/after 06/10/10; $1 per $10 effective on violations on/after 06/27/12.)

$2.00 per $10/base fine per GC 70372(a) goes to the State Court Facilities Construction Fund – Immediate and Critical Needs Account.

Night Court Assessment Fee pursuant to Vehicle Code 42006; goes to the State Court Facilities Construction Fund – Immediate and Critical Needs Account – $1.00.

DMV History fee pursuant to Vehicle Code 40508.6; goes to the court to offset cost of recording and maintaining defendants prior convictions of the Vehicle Code – $10.00.

Twenty percent Criminal Surcharge pursuant to Penal Code 1465.7; goes to the State General Fund. 20% is calculated on the base fine amount.

Court Security Fee pursuant to Penal Code 1465.8; goes to the State Trial Court Trust Fund – $40.00.

Criminal Conviction Assessment pursuant to Government Code 70373; goes to the State Court Facilities Construction Fund – Immediate and Critical Needs Account (assessed per conviction). – $30.00 (Misdemeanor); $35.00 (Infraction) Citation Processing Fee per Government Code 295550(c); goes to the County – $10.00.

Emergency Air Medical Transportation Act Fee pursuant to Government Code 76000.10; goes to County Emergency Air Medical Transportation Fund – $4.00.

Parking Violations Processed by the court . These violations must be issued on a Notice to Appear and signed by the violator.- $3.00 per parking violation. Pursuant to SB 857 and Government Code 76000.3, effective 12/19/10; goes to the State Trial Court Trust Fund.

DMV Traffic Violator School Completion Certificate Fee . $3.00 charged per certificate. Pursuant to AB 2499 and Vehicle Code 11208(d), effective 09/01/11; goes to State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Different Tiers of Speeding Violations 

This is not the end of it. In addition to this amount, you will have to pay for the ticket is dictated by how much over the speed limit you were going. Obviously, if you were going faster than the speed limit, you will have a bigger problem and a bigger fine. If you were going anywhere from 1-15 miles, then you are in the first bracket of speed. However, if you were going anywhere from 16-25 miles, then you are in the next bracket. If you were going over 25 miles, then you are in the highest bracket, which will add more to your California Speeding Ticket Cost. 

Traffic School Fee

The fees for traffic school should be about 20-00- 50.00 dollars. In addition to the cost of the ticket, there is also the cost of going to Traffic Violator School to save on your automobile insurance. If you have traffic school eligibility then you can go this route. The court will give you several months to complete the school and keep the traffic violations from hitting your motor vehicle report. Once you complete the court course then the traffic violations will be kept off your DMV record. 

Excessive Speed Going over 100MPH

The fines for going over 100mph will go into the range of 800.00-1000.00 along with a driver license suspension. 

If the case is filed against you as going over 100mph speeding then you are looking at either going to court yourself or having an attorney represent you. Like DUIs and other crimes, there is a Mandatory court appearance in traffic court for speeding tickets where the driver is going faster than 100mph..

Drivers who go over 100 mph face additional penalties if the evidence proves the facts alleged via the officer’s statements and or lidar. In addition to this, it carries a potential 1-month license suspension and 2 points on the violation for insurance premiums. If this happens and you are caught driving, then you are going to face extra charges on a suspended license charge.

If you were driving over 100mph then it’s important you hire counsel to represent your case. A professional can appear for you in traffic court and work on preventing a license suspension.  

How bad is a speeding ticket on my record – Hidden Rates of Insurance 

You can be looking to pay a few hundred and into the thousands for a hike in insurance. In addition to the immediate cost of court fees, there is the hidden cost that comes from the conviction. This cost comes from insurance companies. If the judge finds you guilty then the courts will send notice of a traffic conviction to your motor vehicle report and insurance companies will eventually do a check for your driving record. When they find out about the additional point then they will adjust your premium. 

A point or 2 may hit as a result of the ticket. If this happens, then your insurance rates will jump significantly, which will add to your California Speeding Ticket Cost. It is important to factor in the points and any other collateral consequences as a result of your ticket.

How to Reduce the Cost of a CA Speeding Ticket – Getting Your Case Amended

In most circumstances, a person may be eligible for traffic school on their ticket even they were going faster than 25 mph. This is done by negotiations with the officer before the court. In some circumstances, an officer may limit is tickets below a speed limit in exchange for a person pleading guilty and taking traffic school. The advantage of this is that the officer will be able to leave court earlier. However, the success of amending tickets in California will differ among law enforcement agencies.

Can You Beat a Speeding Ticket?

Yes traffic tickets can be beaten. Speeding tickets can be beaten. There are many things that can go wrong with the law enforcement agency. (officers not having notes, calibration records not being in court, the officer just not remembering, scheduling conflict s with officer training, and vacations) Anyone one of these failures can result in a dismissal of your speeding ticket. 

Why isn’t my citation on the Traffic Court’s computer?

Traffic citations will not appear on the court system for at least a  few weeks. The officer needs to send the tickets to court first. The most important date is the one on the ticket. If you show up to court on arraignment to no case being filed then you need to make a record of it.

Can I get an extension of the appearance or fine due date?

Yes generally you can get extensions on your speeding tickets in California. The best way to do this is 

Can I make monthly payments to pay the bail or fine amount due on my citation?

Yes. Monthly payments can be worked out at most courts at the collection or clerks window. 

Unable To Make Your Court Appearance?

If you are unable to make your court appearance then you should get an attorney to go to court for you.  Not going to court on your date will result in a failure to appear on your record. A failure to appear will result in additional fines such as a civil assessment and license suspension. In addition, some counties will put out a warrant for arrest when a person chooses not to go to court. If you are caught driving during this period then you will face additional charges which are misdemeanors. 

Is the date at the bottom of my citation a court date?

Yes. The date at the bottom of your citation is your court date, you will need to address your case on this day.  Do not make the mistake of waiting for something in the mail.  Your signature at the bottom is enough to bind you to the courts. When you signed at the bottom of the speeding ticket you are promising that you will appear. 

Promise to appear
Once a person signs a promise to appear, they are bound to the court on that date. The court is not obligated to send you a courtesy notice. Not showing up can result in a new charge of Failure to Appear.

If I sign a payment plan, can I still set a court date and request that my fine be reduced?

It is better to ask for a reduction upfront, however, if you sign a payment plan and run into hardship later then you can go see the clerk and ask to see the judge to explain your situation. In some cases, the judge will reduce or have you do community service. 

Is it worth fighting a speeding ticket in court?

Yes, speeding tickets are fightable and if you avoid the point then the savings will outweigh the investment you put in to fight the case. 

Navigating the intricate landscape of California speeding tickets can be daunting. However, with a clear understanding of the costs, penalties, and potential avenues for contestation, drivers can make informed decisions. Remember, while the initial fine might seem steep, the long-term implications on insurance and your driving record might warrant considering fighting the ticket. Before paying up, weigh your options and always seek clarity on the full extent of the ticket’s impact.

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