There are many types of traffic tickets. In this article, we’ll talk about speeding California traffic tickets and answer all questions you may have about speeding in the state of California.
The dictionary defines a speeding ticket as “a ticket issued for driving above the speed limit”.
What is a Speeding Ticket?
In simple words, a speeding ticket is a notice that a law enforcement officer issues to a driver or motorist indicating he or she has gone above the speed limit.
Speeding is one of the most common driving-related offenses. Millions of speeding tickets are issued every year. In fact, more than 100,000 drivers in the country receive a speeding traffic violation per day.
Vehicle Code 22350 VC covers the state’s basic speed law. It covers how fast you can go on a specific road and also explains possible outcomes.
A violation in the state of California is considered an infraction and fines can be as high as $500+ court assessments.
22350 VC reads:
“No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
There are two types of speed limits in the state:
Absolute Speed Limits
These prohibit the person behind the wheel from going faster than:
- 70 mph on freeways with a sign mentioning the limit
- 65 mph on highways and freeways that do not have the 70 mph sign
- 55 mph on undivided, two-lane highways unless there’s a sign mentioning the speed
Drivers must follow these limits as they’re considered absolute. Also, remember that the law strictly prohibits speeding in a construction zone.
“Prima facie” Speed Limits
Also known as presumed speed limits, these are set forth in VC 22352. The following rules apply unless specified otherwise:
- The limit in alleys, highway intersections, and railroad crossings is 15 mph without
- The limit in school zones, residential, and commercial districts is 25 mph
Going above these limits does not always mean you’re over speeding as these limits are not absolute.
You will have the option to challenge your ticket if it is a case of a prima facie speeding citation.
You will have to prove that you did not break the basic law and that you did not risk yourself or anyone else on the road by going above the speed.
If you fail to prove this then you will be considered in violation of the code.
California Speeding Ticket Stats
These stats can help you understand how the California traffic ticket system works:
- More women contest their speeding tickets than men.
- Women receive fewer speeding tickets in the country than men.
- In about half of the cases, police officers do not show up at the court, which can help you get your ticket dismissed.
- Each officer helps the city earn about $300,000 in traffic fines per year. On the other hand, the city only has to pay about $75,000 per year to the average officer.
- Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 make up the largest group as they’re very commonly caught for speeding.
- The number of speeding tickets issued in California has increased by about 87 percent during the pandemic for drivers going above the speed of 100mph. On average, they are said to be going 35mph above the speed limit.
- A total of 1,335 citations were issued in March 2019 and the number jumped to 2,493 in March 2020.
- Driving above the speed limit is the cause of more than 10 percent of all road accidents.
- According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, a drop of just 1 mph in average speeds can cause a 4 percent reduction in accidents.
- The risk of serious injuries stands at 17 percent at 40 mph and goes up to 60 percent at 50mph.
Why Do People Overspeed?
There are several reasons why people break the law and decide to go above the speed limit.
As mentioned earlier, speeding is a common problem. According to a 2018 report, about 87 percent of drivers overspeed on 20mph roads and around 22 percent overspeed on 10mph roads.
Drivers tend to be a little more obedient when roads allow them to go up to 30mph; however, about 52 percent still go above the speed limit. The situation isn’t very different on motorways either and around 46 percent go above the speed limit when on motorways.
According to the Department of Transport, there are three different types of drivers based on how they drive and how likely they are to break the law. Here are the three types identified by the researchers:
- Compliant Drivers: About 50 percent of drivers are compliant and like to follow the law. They very rarely get into accidents and are careful drivers.
- Moderate Speeders: About 33 percent of drivers go above the speed limit. They are typically careful but may break the law when they feel they have a reason to.
- Excessive Speeders: According to the report about 14 percent of drivers are excessive speeders. They go over the speed limit very often and may get involved in a lot of accidents.
Here are some of the most common causes of overspeeding:
Unaware of the Consequences
A lot of drivers speed because they are not aware of the consequences of overspeeding. Not many people know that speeding can result in serious fines in California. Plus, many do not pay attention to other risk factors, i.e.: the increased risk of accidents and injuries.
This is why there is a need to educate drivers and to highlight the importance of staying under the speed limit.
These limits are designed to keep roads safe and secure for everyone, from drivers to passerby. Overspeeding increases the risk of accidents. In fact, just going 1 km above the speed limit increases the risk factor by 3 percent.
Not just this, the faster your car, the higher the damage. Later in this article, we’ll explain the consequences of speeding in detail.
In a Hurry to Reach Somewhere
Most of us are in a hurry. We’re a nation of impatient drivers, hence it doesn’t come as a surprise that we overspeed in order to reach our destination quicker.
The latest reports suggest that people overspeed when the roads are empty, but this isn’t an acceptable justification for breaking the law.
Whether you’re going 1 mile above the speed limit or 100, you’re breaking the law. The punishment, however, does depend on how far off you were the speed limit. We’ll explain about speeding punishments in California later in this article.
Want to Enjoy the Thrill
Some drivers go above the speed limit only because they find it exciting and fun.
An expert on the topic, Dr. Lisa Dorn, said:
“Some drivers have simply adopted a driving style of habitually breaking speed limits and driving quickly, almost like driving on autopilot.”
Speeders are also vulnerable to time pressures. They wish to use speed to speed to make up for their poor time management. However, the truth is that speeding does not always save time.
Moreover, according to Dr. Dorn, it is common for drivers to be “influenced by other road users; if others are breaking the speed limit, they may feel they also need to do so.”
In addition to this, social pressure is a factor as well. Other passengers riding the car may force the driver to speed up.
Not Aware of the Speed Limit
Not everyone who drives is aware of the speed limit. Authorities place speed signs at regular intervals to ensure the law is followed, yet people still go above the speed limit because they don’t study the law or pay attention to the signs.
A lack of proper placement of the speed sign or the sign fading due to aging is also some common reasons why people go above the speed limit.
There might also be trees or other objects blocking the sign; however, once again, these might not always be considered justified excuses for breaking the law.
I Got a Speeding Ticket – What Now?
Nobody likes to get a speeding ticket. The experience is neither fun nor thrilling. Seeing blue lights flash right behind you as you go can be quite scary.
Getting convicted can result in serious problems but there are ways to reduce or remove the impact of a California traffic speeding ticket. But, you must know what to do after you get a California traffic ticket:
Right After Getting Pulled Over
If you’re reading this then you or someone close to you might have received a speeding ticket.
We suggest that you quickly go through the information available on this page so that you know exactly what to do after you get a California traffic ticket:
- Talk to the office and ask the method he or she used to determine that you broke the law. Make sure to keep a record of this information by writing it down.
- You have the option to avoid giving details. Only speak what’s necessary and try to remain silent because what you tell the office can be used against you if the case reaches the court.
- Do not make the mistake of arguing with the officer and make sure to be polite and respectful. Remember that the officer is only doing his or her job. The best solution is to stay unremarkable. The fewer things you give the officer to remember, the higher the chances of the officer forgetting the details when he or she has to appear in a court.
- Keep a record of everything including the time, location, and damage. You might need this information to fight your case. Also, make sure to notice what caused you to speed, i.e. missing signs.
Once you receive the ticket, you will have these three options:
- Fight the case
- Pay a reduced penalty by negotiating or choosing to attend a driving school
- Pay the ticket
Here is what will happen in each scenario:
Decide to Pay the Ticket
A lot of people choose to pay their speeding ticket because they don’t know that it is possible to fight a ticket or they do not want to go through the hassle, especially if the ticket will only cost them $50 or less. However, very few speeding tickets are under $50 as the true cost of a speeding ticket in California usually goes above $100.
According to a NerdWallet 2020 report, a driver in his or her 40s with full coverage and a good credit score will typically pay about $355 more every year after getting a single ticket for speeding.
The report also found that the average 40-year-old driver with minimum coverage and decent credit will typically pay about $148 more every year with a single speeding ticket.
If you choose to accept and pay your ticket then make sure to compare insurance quotes before you pick one because most companies will increase their rates due to your changing record.
A driver who has a speeding ticket is considered a risky driver, which is why companies tend to charge more from such drivers.
Decide to Fight the Ticket
Yes, it is possible to fight a speeding ticket in California.
Fighting a ticket isn’t as complicated as it sounds on paper. It’s possible and a large number of people choose this option to save money.
The interesting thing is that you will need to go to court in order to fight your ticket. Plus, you may also have to hire the services of an attorney. The good thing is that the onus falls on the prosecutor who will have to prove that you were guilty.
You can also get off the hook if the officer fails to show up at the court, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of solely relying on that.
You should work on coming up with a strong defense to ensure you don’t have to pay the ticket. Be ready to answer questions. Most of the questions will be typical like:
- Did you see the speed limit sign?
- Were you aware that you were going above the speed limit?
- Why were you going above the speed limit?
Your ticket will have a lot of information on what you can do including the name of the local officer or county. You can Google for tips on how to fight a speeding ticket in a specific county or state.
We suggest that you go through the California motor vehicle code to fully understand your rights and what to expect.
You will have the following options:
Delay your hearing to have more time to prepare your case. You can use this time to:
- Gather proof to increase your chances of winning the argument. Evidence can be in the form of GPS data or dashcam video to prove that you did not break the law. Photographic evidence can also be used to prove that there were no speed signs or that they were obscured.
- Research the speed equipment used in your case. Search the web and find out more about the method used by the officer to clock your speed. Study all its weaknesses and make a case that highlights them. If you have time then go through instruction manuals and study maintenance schedules so that you can counter question the officer and prove the gun cannot be considered a reliable tool.
- Do a bit of research and look for witnesses to prove your innocence. Witnesses include other passengers or people on the road who were present when you were issued the ticket.
- Think about the questions you’d ask the prosecutor. These should be designed to prove your innocence and bail you out. You can ask questions that prove the officer does not remember the event clearly or that the equipment isn’t reliable.
Choose to Negotiate Your Ticket
It is possible to mitigate a ticket, i.e. make a deal with the court and prosecutor. Mitigation benefits for the parties, it helps the jurisdiction as the state does not have to cover the cost of hearing, while also helping you by reducing the amount of the ticket.
You can negotiate a ticket at or before your hearing, but the decision lies with the court and all that you can do is make an appeal. Get in touch with the court to know how to get started as some courts require applicants to send a written mitigation request.
Mitigation can be a little complicated for some people to understand as it involves admitting to speeding. The key lies in presenting information to justify your cause so that you could be granted some leniency.
Possible outcomes include:
- No request is granted and you have to pay your ticket without the case affecting your driving record
- You are able to negotiate and pay a part of the ticket without it appearing on your driving record
- You choose to take a driving course while also having to pay all or part of the ticket without it appearing on your record
- The court grants you more time to pay your fine
The prosecution will have to prove that the defendant and the person behind the wheel are the same person. Cases where the driver’s identity is not clear are not considered legal.
California Traffic Ticket: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about California traffic tickets:
What’s the fine and can I get my license suspended if I have a speeding ticket?
If you are found to be guilty then you might receive a suspension. In most cases, there is no suspension if it is your first offense; however, it might get offended if you are caught speeding thrice in a period of a year or if you are going way above the speed limit.
If you’re going above the limit but not going above 100 mph then you will have to pay:
- $35 if you’re going up to 15 mph above the speed limit
- $70 if you’re going between 16 and 25 15 mph above the speed limit
- $100 if you’re going 25 mph above the speed limit
Going 100 mph above the speed limit is a very serious offense. The penalties for such an offense include:
- A fine of $500 if it is your first time + license suspension for up to 30 days
- A maximum fine of $750 if it is your second time within a period of three years+ license suspension for up to six months
- A fine of $,0500 if it is your third time within a period of five years + license suspension for up to a year
Will these points appear on my driving record?
One point will appear on your driving record if you go above the speed limit. Moreover, you can get your license suspended if you sustain:
- 4 points in a year
- 6 points in two years
- 8 points in three years
What if a radar was used during my case?
It is common for police officers to use radar devices in California to identify speeding drivers. In most such cases, the best option is to prove that the device did not produce an inaccurate reading.
You can show this by:
- Highlighting that other objects such as cars interfered with the beam
- Proving that the device wasn’t calibrated properly
- Mentioning and proving that the office didn’t use the device properly
Is overspeeding a crime?
Overspeeding is not a crime; however, you might be prosecuted if overspeeding results in major accidents.
There are three other laws related to VC 22350. These include:
- Reckless driving
- The minimum speed law
- A DUI sentencing enhancement for excessive speed
Are there acceptable reasons for going above the speed limit?
Yes, there are some reasons that are considered justified but it differs from case to case. These include:
- Going above the speed limit due to the actions of law enforcement officers. For example, if you went above the speed limit to get out of the way of a police vehicle that was following a culprit and going in an aggressive manner then it might be considered a valid excuse.
- Speeding because you were in an emergency can be considered an acceptable reason. However, the law isn’t very clear about what’s considered an emergency. Such cases can be tricky because if speeding caused harm to someone or put others at risk then you will still be held liable. Also, you will have to prove that you had no other alternative but to go above the speed limit.