Traffic violations bring in millions of dollars of revenue for the government (see my statistics on speeding tickets). In California there is a long laundry list of traffic infractions and misdemeanors. There are also many higher-fine violations that usually involve commercial vehicles, and there are also some very obscure violations such as transporting radioactive materials. And, of course, there are misdemeanor traffic violations you can receive as well. Here I will only address the most frequent traffic infractions that a first offender may encounter (an infraction is a crime that is punishable by a fine, not by jail, unlike misdemeanors). If you received a misdemeanor ticket (where you are exposed to potential jail time), speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Also remember that the fines can double in construction zones. Also, your fines may be higher if you have “priors”. If you failed to pay your ticket on time, you might also have extra penalties on top of the fines. If you received a ticket and are not sure what you are cited for, read my infographics on how to read a traffic ticket.
When I refer to a “point”, I mean a point on your DMV record.
Source: California Uniform Bail Schedule 2014
So, what are the 10 Expensive Traffic Tickets You Want to Avoid in California?
Speeding tickets’ fines vary depend on how much “over” the speed limit you were. The higher bracket of this category is if you were speeding 26MPH or more OVER the posted speed limit (so if the speed limit is 65MPH, you were cited for 91+; if the speed limit is 55MPH, you were cited for 81+; or if it is a “basic speed law” violation, you were cited for 26MPH or more OVER the prevailing conditions). See my infographics for explanation on differences between common speeding tickets in California.In the higher speed bracket (26 MPH or more over the limit), the fines start at $490. This is a 1 point violation. If you are eligible, you can do traffic school, in which case you will have to pay the traffic school AND most likely an additional fee to the court. If you are not eligible for traffic school, you may have an issue with a rise in your insurance premium.
#9: Carpool lane violations
Before you think about cutting into the “carpool” lanes at the double lines, remember this this. Driving over double lines of preferential lane (where it is not designated with a single broken line) is a violation of Vehicle Code 21655.8(a). This fine starts at $490, and is one point. Closely related is the improper use of preferential lanes, or using carpool lanes when you are not supposed to, (Vehicle Code 21655.5 (b)), also $490, and 1 point.
#8: Not Yielding to Emergency Vehicle
Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle is a violation of Vehicle Code 21806 section a or b. This costly mistake will start at a fine of $490 and is 1 point for the DMV. On a related note, you can get a ticket if you are a pedestrian, and you fail to yield to an Emergency Vehicle (Vehicle Code 21806 section c). The fine for a pedestrian is similarly $490 (but it is not a DMV point, since you are technically on foot).
#7: Children’s Car-seat Violation
Remember Vehicle Code 27360(a) before you consider skipping the seatbelt on your kid’s car-seat: Violation of Mandatory use of child passenger restraint in rear seat for children under age of 8 has a fine starting at $490. This is also a one point violation. Also, it doesn’t stop at age of 8. Violation of mandatory use of safety belt or child restraint system for children under 16 but older than 8 (Vehicle Code 27360.5(a)) has a fine starting at $490. This one is also a one point violation.
#6: Red Light Camera Tickets
Although this may not be the most expensive ticket, it is definitely one of the most litigated and protested ticket– the red light camera ticket. With major cities popping these cameras up at busy intersections, you most likely know at least one person who received one of these (or even gotten one yourself). If you got a red light camera ticket most likely you will get a violation for Vehicle Code 21453. The fine for red light camera ticket starts at $490. Even though the above 4 violations I mentioned are also in the $490 range, I will put red light camera tickets slightly above them. The reason is that these tickets, unlike most other tickets, are mailed to your address on records, rather than handed over to you by a cop. If somehow you didn’t get the citation in the mail, or you no longer live at that address, you might have blow the deadline and get slapped with a $300 civil assessment (penalty) or get charged with a Failure to Appear (which is pretty common). Also, this is a 1 point violation, so the usual traffic school and related fees apply. So, at the low end of this ticket, you are looking at $490 plus some change for traffic school, at around $600 out the door. At the high end, you are looking at around $900. Just think of this as the letter you never want to get in the mail.
#5: Passing a flashing School Bus
Next time you see a school bus, remember that passing a school bus with flashing signals is a violation of Vehicle Code 22454(a). The violation starts at a whopping $695. Also, it is a 1 point violation for the DMV.
#4: No Evidence of Financial Responsibility
Failure to provide a peace officer evidence of financial responsibility is a violation of Vehicle Code 16028(a). This may not be a DMV point, but the fine for this violation starts at $900!
#3: Speeding >100mph
Speeding over 100mph is a violation of Vehicle Code 22348(b). The fines start at $900. More importantly, this is a 2 point violation with the DMV. You won’t be able to do traffic school on a 2 point violation, so depending on your car insurance company, they might raise your insurance premium. Even worse, the court has the discretion to suspend your license for 30 days, making it even more inconvenient for you to get to school or get to work. On top of this, note that there is a mandatory appearance for this ticket, meaning you can’t just simply pay the fine online. You, or an attorney on your behalf, must appear in court and take care of this violation.
#2: Parking Where You’re Not Supposed To
Although these are “parking” violations, they are not your typical $50 tickets. The hefty fines on these ones are worth a mention.
- Parking at a bus loading area Vehicle Code 22500(i). Fines start at $1105 (but not a DMV point).
- Parking at curb constructed to provide wheelchair accessibility Vehicle Code 22500(l). Fines start at $1105 (but not a DMV point).
- Parking at disabled parking spot or obstructing or blocking it Vehicle Code 22507.8 a-c. Fines start at $1105 (but not a DMV point).
- Parking near sidewalk access ramp for disabled Vehicle Code 22522 (“No person shall park a vehicle within three feet of any sidewalk access ramp constructed at, or adjacent to, a crosswalk or at any other location on a sidewalk so as to be accessible to and usable by the physically disabled, if the area adjoining the ramp is designated by either a sign or red paint”). Fines start at $1105 (but not a DMV point).
#1: The Worst Traffic Violation On Your Wallet….
Although I said above I am am mainly going over infractions, one very common traffic misdemeanor deserves a mention in this post …
The king of all traffic tickets, the one that makes piggy banks cry for months to come, goes to:
You might know this as drunk driving, driving under the influence, driving while impaired, DUI, DWI, OVI, OMVI. The charges vary depending on your case. For an explanation of basic non-injury, non-property-damages DUI charges, read here. There are also more serious (and felony) charges for a DUI, particularly if someone was injured. In that situation, definitely see a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a non-injury, non-property damage DUI, the fines vary depending on the circumstances of your case, any enhancements or priors, and the county where your DUI is handled. Count on the fines being in the thousands range. Also, you have to factor in cost of a DUI lawyer and cost of your DUI school (if applicable). You might also have additional compliances that the court imposes on you. Each term may carry additional fees. In addition, a DUI will cause DMV suspension. Your driver’s license will face suspension, in which case your work or schooling may be inconvenienced. You also have to account for other various fees to the DMV. You may also have to provide proof of insurance, and depending on your insurance company, your insurance premium may increase.
If you received one of these pricey tickets, you might want to find a lawyer for traffic ticket. A traffic lawyer can try to help negotiate a fine reduction, or try to get a point violation down to another non-point violation. Or, if your case has a defense, your lawyer can try to get the case dismissed. And, if you have a misdemeanor traffic violation such as a DUI, you definitely will need to speak to an attorney right away. Call Charlotte at 805-517-4LAW for a Free Consultation for traffic tickets in Ventura County.