Speeding Ticket in California

Speeding is a moving traffic violation. Excessive speeding is an offense under the California Vehicle Code. It can be one or two points depending on the speed cited over the speed limit. Getting a speeding ticket in California can be very expensive. Not only are the fines and court fees high, but also the likelihood of your insurance rates going up.

Speeding means you are charged with CVC §22350:

No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed higher than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

How Much is a Speeding Ticket in California

According to Nerdwallet, “with fees and surcharges, speeding ticket-related costs jump to $234 in California. But the biggest hit to your bank account is yet to come: The average California driver will pay $158.53 each year in extra insurance costs for three years after a speeding ticket.” This means your car insurance premium will go up by 15% on average.

There are a couple of scenarios that could play out:

  1. You can either try to get the ticket dismissed by showing up in court and fighting your case.
  2. You can plead guilty and try to persuade the judge to be more lenient on you.
  3. Go to court and hope the citing officer does not show up. If the officer does show up, your charges will be dismissed.
  4. Or by pleading guilty and going to traffic school to get your ticket masked on your driving record.

Speeding Ticket Costs

Nationally, the average cost of a speeding ticket is about $150, but can vary quite a bit: Illinois and Virginia, for instance, have a maximum speeding ticket cost of $2,500, while in Tennessee, speeding tickets can only go up to $50.

Unfortunately for residents of California, it’s one of the top 10 states in which you’re most likely to receive a speeding ticket. The cost depends on how far over the speed limit you were going:

  • 1 to 15 mph over the speed limit: $35 base fee / $230+ total
  • 16 to 25 mph over the speed limit: $70 base fee / $360+ total
  • 26+ mph over the speed limit: $100 base fee / $490+ total

The total cost is so much higher than the base fee because so many extra fees are added to it. These include costs like the criminal conviction fee ($35), court operations assessment ($40), and many more. Additionally, you can expect to pay more to your car insurance provider after receiving the ticket (and end up paying hundreds of dollars more per year).

Can You Go To Traffic School For A Speeding Ticket In CA?

Depending on your eligibility, you can go to traffic school for a speeding ticket in California. For speeding tickets, this depends on the speed you were cited on the ticket. Going less than 25mph over the posted speed limit is considered a one-point infraction, which is an eligible offense.

If you choose to go to traffic school, make sure you sign up with a DMV licensed online traffic school. There are three types of traffic schools – online, classroom, and booklet based courses.

If you go 26mph or over the posted speed limit, then that is a two-point infraction. You are not automatically eligible for traffic school if you are caught speeding 25+mph. You could theoretically ask the judge if he would consider giving you traffic school before you enter your plea, but that is subjective.

How Long Does A Speeding Ticket Stay On Your Driving Record?

Most one point infractions (such as a minor or one point speeding ticket) will remain on your driving record for 36 months or three years. However, if you are eligible for traffic school and decide to go, your speeding citation will be masked from the public driving record.

Serious offenses such as DUIs will stay on your driving record for ten years.

The Speed Trap Defense

Radar speeding tickets can be beaten with a speed trap defense. If the officer selected the radar box and inputted the radar unit number in the box, then you received a radar ticket.

Read Help! I Got A Ticket’s Step-by-Step Guide to beating a Radar Speeding ticket.

How to Fight a Speeding Ticket in California

To fight a speeding ticket in California, you’ll need to provide evidence that proves the charges are false. Specifically, you’re most likely out is to argue that you weren’t actually speeding. In general, it’s a lot easier to make this argument if you weren’t ticketed for speeding way over the speed limit.

Going to trial, you’ll have to present your evidence (e.g., photos, witnesses, etc.) to the court and the judge. Additionally, you can also attempt to get out of going to court by completing a Request for Trial by Written Declaration, to which you’ll attach written statements from you and your witnesses. The judge makes a decision based on the documents included, and if they reject your argument, you can ask for a new trial (where you will have to appear in person).

Speeding Ticket Points In California

The majority of speeding tickets in California will cause one point to be put on your license. However, this changes if the offense was quite severe: if you were speeding over 100 mph, or you were engaging in a speed contest, this will result in two points being put on your license. The majority of points (for offenses like speeding, illegal turns, etc.) will stay on your license and driving record for three years. Still, points for more severe violations (such as DUIs or reckless driving) will remain on your license for a decade.

Out of State Speeding Tickets

Out of state speeding tickets can easily spoil an otherwise enjoyable trip. And unfortunately, you may actually be at more of a risk of receiving a ticket if you exceed the speed limit outside your own state. That’s because officers are more likely to ticket out of state drivers than to mercifully let them off with a warning.

Additionally, if you’re in one of the 45 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that’s part of the Driver’s License Compact, information about your ticket will be sent back to the state in which your driver’s license was initially issued. But whether or not you’ll get points for it on your license varies by the policy and rules of your home state.

Consider going to traffic school in the state you were ticketed in to mask the speeding ticket. Going to traffic school could prevent the point from showing up on your home state driving record and prevent your insurance rates from increasing.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay An Out Of State Speeding Ticket?

It depends on where you got the ticket. Quite a few states will report speeding tickets to other states’ DMVs. However, some states do not report speeding tickets to other states; these include Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New York, among others.

You may also end up with a warrant for your arrest in the state where you received the ticket if you haven’t paid after the due date. If you’re ever planning to return to that state, or just driving through, you should make sure to pay the ticket to avoid getting arrested (or contest it, if you’re interested in going through that process, as we’ve described it below).

Additionally, you may have trouble with renewing your car insurance if your ticket remains unpaid—the police could report the unpaid ticket to your insurance company, which can then lead to legal issues around insurance coverage. It’s extremely risky to ignore a speeding ticket altogether, so be very careful.

How To Fight Out Of State Speeding Tickets

If you know that the ticket was unfair—for instance, if you weren’t, in fact, going above the speed limit, but the equipment used to measure your speed was malfunctioning—it’s possible to fight the ticket. It can be difficult to contest an out-of-state speeding ticket; typically, you don’t want to have to physically return to the state where you received the ticket, because that may cost more than simply paying it. But it is actually possible to contest these types of speeding tickets by mail, too.

Contesting Tickets By Mail

On the back of the ticket, check “not guilty” before you send it back. If you’re given a court date, you can ask for a continuance (having the court date moved further in the future). By pushing the date back as much as possible, you’re aiming to make it so that the officer who originally gave you the ticket won’t show up for the court date.

If the officer doesn’t show, the case will be dismissed, and you’ll no longer have to pay the ticket. When you send the ticket back, you can also add info about the mistakes on the citation. You should also include a return receipt request on the envelope in which you’re returning the ticket. You’ll have proof when the court receives the ticket you’ve sent back.

Hiring A Lawyer In The State Where The Ticket Was Issued

If you send the “not guilty” plea back by mail, you can contact an attorney in the state where the ticket was received to get advice on potential loopholes in that state’s law. You can also hire a lawyer to go to court and argue for the case to be dismissed. Keep in mind, though, that hiring a lawyer could easily cost more than just paying the ticket, so it may not be worth it.

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