Why are California speeding tickets so expensive?

Millions of Americans have received and dealt with traffic citations, especially speeding tickets, that ended up crippling their wallets. Whether such pricey citations actually encourage drivers to reduce speeds is uncertain, but the amount of money violators must pay is a largely disputed topic. California has particularly costly speeding penalties, and while the law enforces equal penalties to speeding drivers, some experts claim that such tickets target poor residents and are spent toward unethical purposes.

According to LA Weekly, California’s state Legislature has gradually increased fees in order to raise revenues without having to go through the obstacles of raising taxes. In fact, the article states that tickets of initially $100 can now cost up to $490 — three times the national average for a similar citation. On top of this crippling number, late fees for speeding tickets in the state are an extra $300. For the past 15 years, the Legislature has been using this source to increase revenue without having to pass new taxes, which in turn creates a regressive tax in its disproportionately affecting the poor.

Not only do expensive speeding tickets negatively affect a large majority of Californians; along with spiked insurance rates, an entire speeding incident can cost a driver almost $1,000. Improv Traffic School states that another reason for heightened ticket costs is due to emergency medical services and court construction assessments, which have caused California speeding ticket costs to quadruple since 1993. Improv also acknowledges that revenue generated from California traffic tickets have amounted to roughly $500 million per year. On top of public outrage, determining how much speeding tickets cost can also be difficult, and depend greatly on state and court penalties, as well as assessments added to base fines.

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