So, it finally happened.
You decided that the speed limit was more of a suggestion than a law. So you drove a little faster than usual.
But what happened next came as a shock.
An unnoticeable police car caught you exceeding the limit on their radar. So they pulled you over and issued a speeding ticket.
If you received a speeding ticket, then you’re one of countless other drivers who have received a moving violation. These moving violations all mean one big thing: paying a ticket fine.
So, how much does a moving violation cost in California state? To answer this question, let’s first explore what counts as a moving violation.
What Counts as a Moving Violation?
Moving violations are any violations of the law committed by the driver of a moving vehicle. In other words, a moving violation, also known as a traffic or driving offense, occurs when someone driving a vehicle breaks the rules of the road.
One of the most common examples is speeding. Some other familiar examples include running a red light, failure to stop at a stop sign, or driving under the influence.
NOTE: Don’t get this confused with other violation types. A driving offense is different from paperwork, parking, or equipment violations.
Infraction and Misdemeanor Moving Violations
There are two types of tickets you can receive for a moving violation. What determines the ticket type is the severity of the offense committed by the driver. The two types of traffic tickets you can receive are:
1. Infraction: Offenses of lower severity that result in smaller fines and no jail time. Examples include speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, running a red light, and not wearing a seat belt.
2. Misdemeanor: Offenses that result in high fines and potential jail time. Examples include DUI or DWI, fleeing from the law enforcement, street racing, and driving without a license.
In the state of California, you are required to sign the traffic ticket when you get it. Doing so verifies the date and time that the ticket was issued. But, if you committed a misdemeanor, you could be arrested on the spot and your car impounded.
So what’s the point in knowing the difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor?
Infractions and misdemeanors have large impacts on fines. Knowing the difference can help you estimate the fine amount. If you committed an infraction, the ticket cost will be lower than misdemeanor ticket cost.
How Much Are Moving Violations in California?
In the state of California, moving violations vary in cost depending on the violation. Most infractions follow the same base rate but have different surcharges associated with them. A quick glance will tell us that:
● First offense has a base fine of around $100
● Second offense has a base fine of around $200
● Third offense and on has a base fine of around $300
Now, let’s say you were speeding and this was your first offense. The surcharges in California state associated with speeding are as follows:
● 1 – 15 MPH over speed limit is $35
● 16 – 25 MPH over speed limit is $70
● 26 – 99 MPH over the speed limit is $100
● 100+ MPH is $200
Another factor is the location in which the moving offense was committed. If a driver is caught speeding in a construction zone, there will be an additional fine to the total price.
In short, there can be hefty fees that violators finance upon breaking the law. Believe it or not, but the ticket fine isn’t the expensive part. It’s the long term effect tickets have on your driver’s record that will sink your bank account.
How Traffic Offenses Affect Your Car Insurance Rates
Traffic offenses have a devastating impact on your driving record. Your driving record is the long term history report you have as a driver. This helps inform your car insurance rates (monthly payments) and the status of your driver’s license.
A driving record contains your driving history. So, when you commit a traffic violation, this blemish will pop up on your record and insurance companies will take notice. As a result, your car insurance rate will increase.
Your rate is how much you pay every month towards your car insurance. At the report of an incident or violation, this rate will increase for 3 to 7 years. That means you will spend more money per month than you would have without committing the violation.
Month-to-month payments might seem small at first, but that can be deceiving. Over the course of a year, you can spend thousands of dollars more.
The reason why your insurance premiums increase is because car insurance companies see you ask a risky driver. Because you have a history of moving violations, there is a chance you will injure yourself or someone else in a road collision, which is more money out of their pocket.
Note: There is one way to reduce rising insurance premiums. That’s with traffic school. Traffic school has the ability to mask points and protect your rates.
What are Points on Your Driving Record?
The consequences of traffic violations don’t end with a fine and increased insurance rate. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allocates points when you are involved in a moving violation or traffic accident.
Points might not sound serious but they can result in a suspended or revoked license.
Typically, a traffic offense gives you 1-2 points on your record, depending on its severity. Accidents and collisions will give you 1 point.
Your license will be suspended or revoked if you the following occurs:
● 4+ points within 1 year
● 6+ points within 2 years
● 8+ points within 3 years
Points on your record have consequences. To reinstate your CA state license, you must meet specific requirements and finance additional fees.
Now that we know the severity of moving violations, is there a way to minimize the consequences?
This all comes down to what you do next. So let’s rewind and discuss your options when you receive a ticket.
What to Do After Getting a Moving Violation
You were just handed a traffic ticket. What do you do now? Depending on the severity of the violation, you will have a few options available.
1. Contest the ticket
You can contest the CA state traffic ticket. In other words, plead “not guilty.” If you choose to do so, you will be issued a court hearing date to make your case. You can also hire an attorney to represent you in court. But you still have to pay the ticket. If you win the case, the court will return your money.
This isn’t a guaranteed solution. If you win the court case, the money is returned to you or you can get the fines lowered. But, if you lose the case, you lose the money and you will pay court fees and attorney fees, if applicable.
2. Enroll in traffic school
You might be eligible to enroll in a traffic school to hide driving record points. First time offenders or certain cases (infractions like running a red light or stop sign) are granted eligibility to take traffic school classes to help them become defensive drivers.
When you graduate from a traffic school, you can hide points and stop your insurance rates from increasing. This won’t help you pay off the initial fine, but it can prevent long term growing payments.
3. Pay the Fine
If you don’t want to deal with a court hearing, drawn out legal battles, or state schooling, you can pay the fine only. But remember, by paying the fine without traffic school, the points may stay on your record for up to three years, and you may see an increased insurance rate for that time.
Final Thoughts on Moving Violations in the State of California
Moving violations can vary in price depending on their severity. Most people dismiss how much they pay for traffic tickets. When they do, they don’t acknowledge the long term devastation that it has on your insurance rates and driving record.
The best way to reduce the long term expenses you accrue is with traffic school. That’s because traffic school demonstrates your behavior as a defensive, safe driver.
So, how much are moving violations? A lot more than a fine.