Cost of traffic tickets skyrocket statewide
April 5, 2010
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out the obvious: California is strapped for cash, so anything that can generate needed revenue is being considered. Remember that the next time you get pulled over. It’s likely to cost you a lot more in California.
Fines on traffic tickets have skyrocketed during the last five years, as Sacramento has tacked on various fees and penalties, typically adding several hundred dollars to the price of a citation. Running a red light: $446. Driving solo in a car pool lane: $445. Ignoring a “Don’t Walk” sign: $173. Speeding at 81 mph on most state freeways: at least $331. [Contra Costa Times]
With moving violations, expect an extra $50 if you go to traffic school to keep your record clean.
Even the classic fix-it ticket, where you were usually let off with a simple warning, is likely to cost $25.
The problem is that lawmakers see traffic tickets as an easy source of revenue during tough financial times. These new add-on fees are being used to fund other projects that have nothing to do with traffic, such as collecting criminals’ DNA.
A spokesperson for the state Office of Traffic Safety admitted the obvious. “The courts need more money. The counties need more money. And the Legislators believe that people breaking the law should be the ones paying for the administration of the system.”
For example, if a driver is pulled over in San Jose, $83 goes to the county, $87 goes to the city, and more than $300 in fees and penalties goes directly to Sacramento.
Meanwhile, violators of the state’s hands-free cell phone law may be next in line for ticket shock. Hearings start this week in Sacramento to increase the base fine for holding a cell phone from $50 up to $225 and from $100 to $445 for texting while driving.
The raise in fees has resulted in unintended consequences — more drivers across the state, angry at the high fines, are challenging their tickets in traffic court.