The US is an enormous country and state laws can vary drastically, even among neighboring states! What carries a small penalty in one state might set you back $1,000 by crossing a border seconds later. The legal jurisdiction on American roads is a confusing web, with counties, municipalities, and states applying different laws on the streets which they patrol. Even though the interstate system is federally funded, it is managed within the states by the state governments themselves. All of this leads to the fact that not all speeding fines are created equal in America. The following states are the worst offenders when it comes to massive fines, license suspensions, and speed traps.
Not only is California huge and highly-populated, but the dominant car culture leads to tens of millions of drivers on the roads all the time. It’s notorious for having many officers patrolling for speeders, and a ticket can increase the already high insurance premiums in the state to unsustainable levels.
Anytime you’re going 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit, or 80 mph or more no matter what the speed limit is, Virginia considers it reckless driving. They might try to hit you with a $2,500 fine and even jail time!
As if driving there wasn’t already a nightmare, traffic cops in New York City love to penalize drivers and levy fines that will inject the city’s massive budget with much-needed revenue. The state issues the third most traffic tickets in the entire country.
The Bay State is geographically small and densely populated, which means that it’s relatively easy for the state police to rely on speed traps. Once you’re caught, the fine structure for most Massachusetts tickets is notoriously elaborate. They also have incredibly high filing fees for anyone daring to fight a ticket through the legal system.
Georgians love their cars and trucks, and police officers in Georgia love handing out heavy fines to speeders. Some tickets can carry fines up to $1,000, especially if you were caught speeding in a school or work zone.
New Hampshire advises the country to “Live Free or Die.” They just don’t want you to live too freely with your foot on the gas pedal, apparently. Speeding through the beautiful lakes and mountain scenery of the Granite State can net you fines of up to $1,000.
No, it’s not technically a state, and yes, it still counts. How could it not when District cops issue more than 400,000 speeding tickets a year for a city with a population just north of half a million? Because D.C. has no state government to set a budget, this job falls to the US congress. With little federal money available for city services, administrators rely on ticket fees to cover some expenses.
When you’re traveling through Vermont’s mountainous terrains and relatively open roads, you’re probably not expecting severe speed traps. That’s how they get you, as many tiny towns in the state are infamous for having speed limits drop abruptly with law enforcement waiting nearby.
Connecticut has a bunch of state police officers trying to catch speeders, they just don’t want you to know that’s what they’re doing. The force has a large fleet of unmarked police vehicles, often in models that differ from the traditional Crown Victoria’s and Impalas most of us are familiar with.
The most densely populated state in the union is also home to the most speed traps of any state. What makes it worse is that the New Jersey Turnpike is a major thoroughfare through the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, making it likely that you must drive there!
No matter what state you were in when you were issued a speeding ticket, the first thing that you should do is schedule a defensive driving course. While the states levy significant fines and license penalties for drivers who are caught, many of them will agree to dismiss the ticket if you successfully complete a defensive driving or traffic school course. In fact, you should schedule a class even if you haven’t been issued a traffic ticket. You could be eligible for an insurance discount just for taking the initiative to be a safer driver!