Whether you received a red light ticket for a failure to stop at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles, or got pulled over for an illegal turn at an intersection near The Kay in Sacramento, you could be on the hook for some serious money. If you've ever received any form of traffic citation in California, you know that not only can they can put a severe dent in your wallet. Also, you'll also be assessed points that could result in a license suspension or worse.

Your California red light citation will vary based the nature of your violation. Expect to pay at least $35 and as much as $100 or more depending on your circumstances.

So, what determines the penalties you're facing if you're issued a red light ticket in California?. Let's take a look:





Rolling Legal Turn $35 1
Illegal red light turn $35 1
Running a stop sign $100 1
Running a red light $100 1

Additional Fines and Penalties in California

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The base fine for failing to stop at a red light in California is only the tip of your financial iceberg. You will be subject to additional fines and fees based many other factors. If you're found guilty of a red light violation you can expect to pay additional fines from the State, county, individual court, and more. Put together these can total more than $400. This number does not include your base fine.

Depending on the severity of your infraction you may also be found guilty of reckless driving. If this is the case expect to pay significantly more in penalties. In addition a single driving point increase can also result in an increase in your insurance premium.

California Negligent Driver Point Threshold

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Each red light violation will add 1 point to your license. 2 points will be added if you are found guilty of reckless driving. If you accumulate 4 points within 12 months you will be labeled a "negligent driver" in the eyes of the State and could be subject to license suspension or revocation.

One point violations will are removed from your record after 39 months with no additional violations

Red Light Ticket Options

Sneakers on an asphalt road. Yellow arrows pointing in different directions. View from above. The concept of choosing the right path. So, now that you know what you're likely to have to pay, and how your red light ticket will affect the points on your license, what are your options?

First, you always have the option to simply plead guilty, pay the fine, and accept the license points. Not only will this cost you upfront, but there's a good chance you'll also see an increase in your insurance premiums. Consequently, you may end up paying significantly more over time if you choose this option.

Secondly, if you received a "fix-it ticket" you may be able to simply address the violation, think repairing a faulty headlight, submit proof of the repair to the court, and have your ticket dismissed. With a red light violation this is almost certainly not a valid option.

You always have the option to contest your ticket in court. If you believe you have a strong case, you might be successful in winning and having it dismissed. However, if you lose in court you will almost certainly have to pay additional court fines and fees, and that does not include the cost of legal representation. Additionally, a conviction will trigger an insurance increase.

Finally, you may have to option to take a defensive driving course. Successfully completing it means no points added to your license, and no additional insurance penalties.

Defensive Driving Course

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If you do choose to take a defensive driving course you'll have to meet some requirements:

  • You currently have a valid driver's license
  • Your ticket is for a moving violation
  • The violation did not occur in a commercial vehicle

If you meet these criteria you can opt for a DMV approved traffic school to prevent points from being added to your license. You'll also prevent additional charges for your car insurance. Note that you are only eligible to take advantage of a defensive driving or traffic school program once every 18 months.

No one likes getting a red light ticket, but failing to address it can cause long-term problems for the state of your license, your insurance rate, and potentially, your freedom. Getting ahead of the issue is the best course of action, and determining what you'll need to pay is the first step toward resolving your red light ticket.