If you’ve followed the trends at all, you know that the fines for speeding have increased significantly in most states over the past 20 years or so. Many states have implemented a “double dip” policy where, each time you get a speeding ticket, the state gets a hefty fee in addition to the fee that the municipality receives. Today’s speeding tickets are, on average, harsher than they were in earlier times.
Yet, a penalty fine isn’t the only cost involved in your speeding ticket. There are additional charges and fees on top of the fine that you’re going to have to pay. In addition, there are a number of ways that getting a speeding ticket can cost you beyond just the assessed fee. Some of these include:
Tacked-on municipal fees.
Depending on where you get the ticket, there’s the actual fee for the violation, and then there are fees the municipality may add on. Most states limit the additional fees, but they can add up quickly. Examples of some of these kinds of fees might include:
– Document fees
– Court maintenance fees
– Criminal surcharge fees
– Court security fees
– Sherriff’s fees
– Air quality improvement funding
– Road improvement funding
When you get that ticket, you’ll get a final bill that probably won’t break these down. You have the right, however, to request that the traffic ticket fine be spelled out fully so that you know where your money is really going.
Even if you haven’t yet received a ticket, you should check with your state and municipal authorities so that you understand all of the costs and fees they’re going to assess when you do get a speeding ticket.
Traffic school tuition.
If this is your first speeding ticket, you probably won’t need to worry about this one. It depends on just how far over the speed limit you are, of course.
In some cases, you can ask for a deferred judgment. What this does is allow you to temporarily suspend the judgment on your speeding ticket for a set amount of time. During that time you’ll be required to take a driving safety course and keep your record clean. If after the allotted time you’ve met the requirements, you may be spared some or all of the penalties of your ticket.
Traffic school can range greatly in its cost. There are some states where you can actually take an online safe driving course, and it will run you about $40. There are other states where actual classroom attendance is mandatory, and it will take you one or two full days of your own time, plus as much as $100 or more.
That said, if you have the option to defer judgment in favor of taking a defensive driving course, it’s often the best option over the long run.
Increased insurance costs.
If you have a history of moving violations and have built up points on your license, chances are your car insurance premiums are going to increase, as well. This, too, can vary greatly from one state to the next. Suffice it to say that you can be looking at an increase of 20% for a series of smaller violations, or you can be looking at an increase of 100% or more for more serious infractions.
If you’re a driver in an at-risk category, it could be even worse. Your insurance company could make the decision to terminate your policy, effectively leaving you without coverage and without a legal way to drive.
In some states, a speeding ticket that’s of a sufficiently high speed can actually qualify as a felony. Reckless driving or reckless endangerment are some of the charges that can go along with your speeding ticket. Any number of these kinds of situations can see you standing before a judge who decides to suspend your license.
When a speeding ticket is combined with other actual violations such as driving under the influence (DUI), running a red light, or even failure to yield you can be looking at a truly dangerous situation.
Obviously, not every time you speed results in a fatal accident. However, speed is a factor in a fair number of traffic fatalities. This is one of those costs that really can’t be quantified, either, and it’s one that can’t be avoided – except by moderating your speed.
If you’re going to break the speed limit, make sure you’re aware of the potential costs and willing to face them.*
*Scott Desind is an LA traffic attorney who is well-known for successfully fighting traffic tickets for drivers. He shares his experiences on his traffic blog and at various events in the Los Angeles area. *