Speeding Ticket Fines Explained

February 22, 2012

Learn more about the 4 factors that determine speeding ticket fines, and what the revenue collected by the state is used for.

Court Fees

Speeding ticket fines are determined by factors including the violation you committed, location, your driving record (any past citations) and when you pay the speeding ticket fine.

  • Type of violation. The worse the offense was, the more you will end up paying for a ticket. If you are caught doing 40 in a 30 mile per hour zone, the ticket will be far less than going 85 in a 55 mile per hour zone
  • Location. You need to watch out for special zones where speed ticket costs are increased. The most common areas are school zones and construction zones. There will normally be signs that tell you that fines in the area are increased. Fines are usually doubled for offenses in these zones
  • Driving record. If you have any outstanding tickets, or a history of having tickets, you will likely have to pay more for a speeding ticket. If it is your first offense, they are more likely to be lenient, or to give a break on the fine when you go to fight the ticket
  • Due date. Every ticket has a date that payment is due. Most towns offer at least a two-week window to pay, and some offer as long as a couple of months. If you pay the ticket past the due date, you will increase the amount of the ticket. Some towns offer a quick pay option where they will reduce the cost if you pay within a certain time frame, normally within 24 hours

Where Does the Money Really Go?

Knowing what happens with the money may (or may not) take the sting out of paying a speeding ticket fine. There are often no set rules for what occurs with the money obtained through speeding ticket fines. The use of the money varies according to the area in which the traffic violation was committed and where it was collected. Similarly, the money may not have a single purpose and can be allocated in a variety of different ways though collected by one authority.

  • Road safety. The ever increasing speeding ticket cost is often justified by government and police authorities due to the money being used for safety reasons. Whether it is used to buy and install speed cameras and signs at dangerous spots or install speed reducing devices, there are a range of methods that can be used to make the road safer
  • Funding. There are some circumstances in which police authorities are entitled to keep the money they collect from speeding ticket fines. This will often be in lieu of some of the funding they would normally get from the taxpayers. They usually have the right to spend this money as they wish, which will often be for the purpose of catching more speeders. This is why many drivers believe that the police have a quota when it comes to issuing tickets

What to Do If You Get a Traffic Ticket

You're bound to break a traffic law at some point while operating your vehicle. If you do get a traffic ticket, the important thing is that you address the situation correctly. The way you handle it can be the difference between a black mark on your record and a relatively minor inconvenience. Here is a guide to dealing with a traffic ticket, start to finish.

The Traffic Stop
The first thing you should remember if you get pulled over is that you need to stay calm. Be polite and talk to the officer about the problem as if you were discussing any other issue. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, which means that you shouldn't admit to any wrongdoing while you are talking to him or her. The classic question "Do you know why I pulled you over?" is a leading question. The police officer is asking you to admit that you have knowingly broken a traffic law. It's best not to answer this question. Instead, simply tell him or her that you are not sure exactly why you've been stopped but that you're sure they have a good reason for doing so. Most of the time, the officer has already made the decision about whether or not they are going to write you a ticket before they have even talked to you, so it's best to just to be polite and not admit guilt.

The Citation
Generally once you receive a ticket, the officer is going to ask you to sign a copy of it and return it to him or her. Go ahead and sign it; you're not admitting guilt by signing the ticket, you're simply acknowledging that you were present when the citation was issued. The officer should offer you a clear and concise explanation of what you are being cited for. Once you're on your way, you can look up the law you're accused of violating.

The Court Date
Regardless of whether you feel you're guilty of the citation or not, you're much better off setting a court hearing to deal with the ticket than you are just paying the fine. By paying the fine, you're not only admitting guilt of the violation, you're going to have a violation on your driving record. This will have a negative effect on your insurance rates for an extended period of time. Instead, simply fill in the form on the back of the ticket and send it in.

Typically you'll have to choose between mitigation (admitting that the violation was committed, but there were extenuating circumstances involved) or contesting (saying that you didn't commit the infraction). Check the "contested" box on the ticket and send it in. If you choose to change to a mitigation hearing later, you will be able to do that.

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