California generally is an expensive state to live in, with high taxes and a high cost of living in most areas. Not only is it expensive to live here, but it is expensive to travel here – including high gas prices and high speeding ticket costs.
As a traffic ticket attorney serving clients throughout Los Angeles County, I’ve represented thousands of drivers with speeding tickets. Speeding ticket cost will vary, depending on the type of violation and how many miles per hour over the speed limit you were traveling.
Speeding Ticket Cost in California
Popular speeding ticket violations are:
- VC 22350 – unsafe speed for prevailing conditions (no specific number, just based on the facts of the situation)
- VC 22349(a) – exceeding 65 mph
- VC 22348(b) – exceeding 100 mph
The speeding ticket cost of most speeding offenses is uniform, with increased costs for speeding in highway construction zones (this chart does not apply to speeding over 100 mph under VC 22348(b), however):
The number shown in the left column below is called the “base fine” – this is not the total speeding ticket cost!
If you notice in the column to the right of the base fine, there is a “+P” symbol. This means “plus penalty assessment.”
A penalty assessment is a State tax/ multiplier of about 5 times the amount of the base fine. So for example, the speeding ticket cost for a ticket with a base fine of $35 ends up being around $250 with the penalty assessment.
For speeding over 100 mph citations, under VC 22348(b), the cost is:
For example, after the $200 base fine + penalty assessment (for a violation with no prior convictions), the cost for speeding over 100 mph is approximately $800.
Traffic School Fee
Because a speeding ticket is a moving violation, you will receive a point on your DMV record if convicted of a speeding ticket violation – unless you complete traffic school.
Traffic school has the effect of keeping the point off of your DMV record, so your insurance rates don’t go up (for each point you receive on your DMV record, your insurance company will raise your premium significantly).
You are traffic school eligible if you haven’t already completed traffic school in the past 18 months, and if you were not speeding more than 20 miles per hour over the limit.
Two point violations, such as speeding over 100 mph or driving with a suspended license are also ineligible for traffic school.
If you are dealing with a Los Angeles traffic ticket, the traffic school fee is $64 in addition to the speeding ticket cost itself.
#1 When Speeding in Excess of 100 mph
There are a couple of ways to lower your speeding ticket cost for driving over 100 mph:
- Get the case dismissed.
- Get the officer and judge to agree to amend the speed to under 100 mph.
Getting Your Case Dismissed
Obviously, if the case is dismissed, there are no fees owed to the court.
One way to get your speeding over 100 mph charge dismissed is to fight the ticket in traffic court and set it for a trial. To do this, you first have to set an arraignment date, appear on that date, and plead not guilty and ask for a trial date.
When you return to court for your trial, the officer is subpoenaed (ordered by the court to appear). If the officer fails to appear at your trial, the case against you will be dismissed in full.
The other way to get your ticket dismissed is – assuming the officer has appeared at your trial date – cross examine the officer before the judge. In California you have a right to cross examine an officer who issued you a traffic ticket.
If the judge decides that it has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, then the case will be dismissed.
Getting Your Case Amended
At the time of trial you will normally be given an opportunity to discuss your case with your officer who issued the ticket. If your speed was 101-105 mph (in other words, not that much over the 100 mph mark), sometimes the officer will agree to amending the speed on your citation down to 99 mph so that you can plead guilty or no contest to VC 22356(b) (driving over 70 mph).
This will save you money by reducing the number of points that will go on your DMV record (from two points down to one point), which will have less detrimental effect on your insurance rates.
#2 Lower Your Costs by Doing Traffic School
As discussed above, completing traffic school has the effect of keeping a point from going on your DMV record.
Although initially it costs more to do traffic school ($64 traffic school fee in Los Angeles County), it will be worth it to make this small investment in order to prevent an increase of your insurance premium, which could stay higher for the next three years after receiving a point on your record.
In some cases, my younger clients have seen their insurance premium double from receiving just one point on their DMV record.
So if you are traffic school eligible, it is well worth it to complete traffic school to save yourself the point on your DMV record. There are many traffic schools you can complete online for your convenience.
#3 Lower Your Speeding Ticket Cost by Amending the Speed
Similar to the process described above for speeding over 100 mph citations, you can negotiate with your officer at the time of trial to amend your speed to a lower amount than what you were initially cited for.
As you can see from the bail chart above, speeding ticket cost will increase depending on how many miles per hour over the limit you were traveling.
The effect of getting the officer to amend your speed can cause you to fall into a lower fee bracket, thus saving you money on your speeding ticket.
#4 Lower Your Speeding Ticket Cost When You Have a Failure to Appear
If you are dealing with a Los Angeles traffic ticket, if you fail to appear in traffic court by the date at the bottom of your citation (or fail to pay it online), your case will be referred to the collections agency GC Services.
If you want to save money on a traffic ticket with a failure to appear, don’t pay GC Services, because your speeding ticket cost will have escalated to 4-5 times the amount due to the added FTA charge.
GC Services has one job to do for the Los Angeles County Superior Court: collect on unpaid traffic tickets. They are not always honest with you regarding your legal rights, and will often give misleading or blatantly false information regarding the effect of your failure to appear.
The may tell you the only way to clear the 40509.5 hold is to pay them, even though you still have a right to a court date!
The reasons it’s better to handle your ticket in traffic court than to pay GC Services are several:
- gain an opportunity to get your ticket dismissed in court or reduced significantly from the exorbitant GC Services amount (which is often $800 or more);
- keep the point off of your DMV record (when you pay GC Services on a speeding ticket, there is no option to take traffic school so you will for sure get a point on your DMV record);
- paying GC Services means you will be convicted of failure to appear under VC 40508 which can appear on your criminal background as a misdemeanor;
- you will still be able to get the hold removed from your license when you put your case back in traffic court, without paying GC Services!
Regarding the failure to appear itself, the judge will dismiss the charge entirely if you can show that at the time you failed to appear in court you were in the hospital, military, or incarcerated (in jail or prison).
Even if you do not have a legal defense to your failure to appear, the court will usually consider other extenuating circumstances such as traveling out of the country, pregnancy, or illness of a family member.
#5 Lower Your Speeding Ticket Cost by Hiring a Traffic Lawyer
The above knowledge is gleaned from my experience as a traffic ticket attorney fighting thousands of tickets over the years on behalf of my clients in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.
It can be confusing and hard to navigate the best course of action when you have several different people or entities, such as the court, GC Services, and/ or the DMV, telling you conflicting stories about how to get your license back and what is the best course of action in your situation.
Often an attorney can be hired to deal with the headache of your traffic ticket for you that is more cost effective than paying collections (which can be very harmful for other reasons, as discussed above) or trying to handle the matter on your own.