Getting pulled over and ticketed can ruin your day. What's worse, California traffic fines can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it can be difficult to know how much you will be ticketed for, even for a simple offense like speeding. If you've ever been curious about how much traffic fines usually cost in California, this guide can help. In this guide, you will learn some average and maximum fine amounts that will help you to predict the size of your ticket.
Keep in mind that due to high local variance, this guide may not be accurate for all municipalities. Also remember that most California traffic fines listed (unless otherwise noted) are for first-time offenders—if you have received several California traffic fines in the last year, you will be subject to significantly worse penalties.
Civil Infractions and Misdemeanors
Traffic offenses in California can be either civil infractions or misdemeanors (some very severe traffic offenses can even be felonies). Civil infractions are handled in civil courts, and when you are issued with a ticket for a civil infraction, typically you pay California traffic fines, have points added to your license, and may have to attend traffic school.
However, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, your traffic offense is being prosecuted in criminal court and you could go to jail. Most traffic offenses, especially for first-time offenders, are not charged as misdemeanors, but if you drive with a suspended or revoked license or drive while under the influence of alcohol, you may be charged criminally and you could have to pay larger fines (well over $1000) and serve jail time of up to a year.
Speeding is the most common offense drivers are ticketed for, and it's also one of the hardest to predict exactly how much your ticket will cost. Different municipalities have different schedules of California traffic fines. However, if you are a first-time offender, your ticket will typically be no more than $100.
This changes drastically if you were going more than 100 mph. This speed is often considered reckless driving by the state of California, and if you are convicted of reckless driving (a misdemeanor) you will go to jail for 5-90 days and be subject to California traffic fines of $145-1,000 depending on where you were charged. Racing on the highways is subject to a 90 day jail sentence and a $1000 fine.
Running Red Lights/Stop Signs
Almost everyone has run a red light or stop sign at some point. If you are pulled over and ticketed for this civil infraction in the state of California, you will be subject to California traffic fines of not more than $100. You will have 1 point assessed on your license. You may be able to go to traffic school in order to have this offense taken out of the public record (and avoid higher insurance premiums).
Driving on a Suspended License
This charge is a misdemeanor and is taken very seriously. Expect to be subject to California traffic fines ranging from $300-1,000. Your auto insurance company may cancel your insurance policy or drastically increase your premiums. You may also go to jail for six months.