California Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties

Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties
Find out what the fine and punishment is for your traffic citation.

When you think of traffic violations in California, you probably think of minor crimes that have insignificant consequences. However, that is often not the case. If you are issued a California traffic ticket, the fines and penalties you face could have a lasting effect. Not only will you likely be ordered to pay expensive monetary fines, but a traffic ticket could also impact your driving record and could lead to an increase in your car insurance rates.

If you are issued a traffic ticket, you should not admit to the violation. You need to speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney who can help you fight your ticket.

Fines and Penalties for Traffic Ticket Infractions

According to California Vehicle Code Section 42001, driving infractions in California are generally punished as follows:

  • A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $100
  • A second offense within one year of prior conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $200
  • A third or subsequent offense within one year is punishable by a fine of up to $250

Along with the base fine, you will be required to pay additional fees. For instance, running a red light, which has a base fine of $100, will actually lead to about $500 in fines and penalties.1

Many infractions have specific fines and penalties. Some of these driving infractions and their consequences include:

  • Speeding at more than 100 mph – Vehicle Code Sections 22348(b), 42000.1
    • Two points on driving record
    • First offense: fine of up to $500, 30-day license suspension
    • Second offense within three years: fine of up to $750, six-month license suspension
    • Third offense within five years: fine of up to $1,000, one-year license suspension
  • Parking in loading/unloading zone – Vehicle Code Sections 22500(i), (l), 42001.5
    • Minimum fine of $250
  • Littering on public highway – Vehicle Code Sections 23111, 23112, 23113(a), 42001.7
    • First offense: $100-$1,000 fine, 8 hours picking up litter or cleaning graffiti
    • Second offense: $500-$1,000 fine, 16 hours picking up litter or cleaning graffiti
    • Third offense: $750-$1,000, 24 hours picking up litter or cleaning graffiti
  • Not wearing a seat belt – Vehicle Code Sections 27315(d)-(f), (h)
    • First offense: maximum fine of $20
    • Second and subsequent offense: maximum fine of $50
  • Failure to use child restraint system for child – Vehicle Code Sections 27360, 27360.6
    • First offense: $100 fine
    • Second offense: $250 fine

Penalties for Misdemeanor Driving Violations

Misdemeanor traffic violations jail time
Jail time for traffic violations

Some driving violations in California are misdemeanors. Under California Vehicle Code Section 42002, misdemeanor driving violations are generally punished by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

The California Vehicle Code lays out the specific punishment for certain misdemeanor driving violations. Some of these misdemeanor violations and their punishment include:

  • Fleeing from law enforcement – Vehicle Code Sections 2800.1, 40000.7(a)(3)
    • Up to one year in county jail
    • Fine of up to $1,000
    • Driver’s license suspension for up to six months
    • Vehicle impounded for up to 30 days
  • Driving after license was suspended or revoked due to DUIVehicle Code Sections 14601.2, 40000.11(l)
    • First offense: Up to six months in jail, $300-$1,000 fine
    • Second offense within five years: Up to one year in jail (30 days mandatory), $500-$2,000 fine
  • Manufacture or sale of fraudulent drivers’ licenses – Vehicle Code Section 14610.1
    • $250-$1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service, or
    • Up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Engaging in speed contest on highwayVehicle Code Sections 23109(a), (e)-(f), 40000.15
    • License suspension for up to six months
    • First offense: $355-$1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail
    • Second offense within five years: $500-$1,000 fine and up to six months in jail

Additional Consequences of a Driving Violation in California

If you are fined for violating a traffic law in California, you will also be forced to pay extra fees in addition to your fine. These fees include:

  • 20% surcharge
  • State penalty assessment
  • County penalty assessment
  • Court facility construction penalty assessment
  • DNA Identification Fund penalty assessment
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) penalty assessment

With these extra fees, your traffic ticket will wind up costing you a lot more than the base fine. For example, if you are cited for texting while driving, you will receive a ticket with a base fine of $20. However, with penalty assessments and additional fees, your ticket will actually cost you around $165.2

If you violate a traffic law, you can also expect your auto insurance rates to increase significantly.

Points on Your Driving Record

California DMV

The California DMV uses a point system for each driver’s record. You will have points added to your driving record if you violate certain traffic laws. Points are generally assessed if you receive a traffic ticket for a moving violation, failing to obey vehicle safety laws, or are convicted of DUI.

How many points will be added to your driving record depends on the severity of your violation. In California, points are usually assigned as follows:

  • 1 point for moving violations such as speeding and making an unsafe lane change
  • 2 points for serious driving violations, including DUI, reckless driving and hit and run

If you acquire too many points on your driving record within a set period of time, the DMV could suspend or revoke your driver’s license. The DMV has the right to take away your license if you acquire:

  • 4 points in 12 months
  • 6 points in 24 months
  • 8 points in 36 months

You will likely be able to have the court waive points in exchange for completing traffic school. Your traffic ticket attorney can help you preserve your driving record and your license.

Traffic Ticket Penalties for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers face more harsh punishment for violating traffic laws in California. If you are a commercial driver, points will be added to your driving record at one-and-a-half times the normal rate. Additionally, you must inform your employer that you received a traffic ticket within 30 days of the ticket being issued, even if you received the ticket while driving your personal vehicle.

You could lose your commercial driver’s license for one year if you commit any of the following driving violations:

  • DUI
  • BAC of 0.04% or higher while operating a commercial vehicle
  • Refusing a DUI test
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with a suspended or revoked license
  • Negligent driving causing a fatality
  • Using a vehicle while committing a felony involving a controlled substance

If you are convicted of any of those offenses for a second time, you could lose your commercial driver’s license for life.

How Much Is Bail? 

When a person is charged with a crime and taken into custody, he or she will be given the opportunity to post bail. Bail must be posted in the form of money or property in order for the person to be released from jail before the trial begins. If the person fails to appear in court for trial, the bail money or property can be forfeited. The amount of bail is based on many factors including the seriousness of the alleged offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and the defendant’s flight risk. In general, the more serious the offense or the bigger the flight risk, the higher the bail will be set at. 

When setting bail, counties in California use a bail schedule, which provides predetermined bail amounts for various misdemeanors and felonies. For serious felonies such as manslaughter or robbery, the bail can be as high as $100,000. For felonies that aren’t listed on the schedule, the bail amount is generally $10,000, and for misdemeanors, the bail amount is usually $5,000. However, you do not have to pay bail in its entirety. Instead, you can post bail through a bail bond. In California, a bail bond is only 10% of the total bail amount. So if the total bail amount is set at $100,000, it would cost $10,000 to bail someone out of jail.

Call the Traffic Ticket Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

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Traffic attorneys of Wallin & Klarich

California takes driving violations very seriously, and you can’t afford to have these consequences affect your life. That is why you need to call the experienced traffic ticket attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately if you have been issued a traffic ticket. Our skilled attorneys have been successfully helping our clients fight traffic tickets for over 40 years. We can help you keep your driving record clean so that you can keep your license.

With offices in Tustin, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Temecula and Victorville, our knowledgeable traffic ticket attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.



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