Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties in California

Getting a traffic ticket in California can be frustrating. But figuring out your fines and penalties shouldn’t be overwhelming. If you’re curious about the points system and how California traffic ticket fines and penalties are assessed, we have your answers right here.

Fines, Fees, and Penalties

Fines for California Traffic Tickets can be difficult to identify as fees can vary from county to county. The first place to start is by looking closely at your ticket. Information like your fine and your county court will be listed on your citation.

The fee associated with the offense itself is just one part of the overall financial burden you’ll face when you receive a moving violation. California traffic tickets are also assessed a list of additional charges. These can include the following:

  • A county penalty fee
  • A state penalty fee
  • A DNA Identification Fund penalty fee
  • A court facility construction penalty fee
  • An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) penalty fee

These fines increase based upon the severity of your conviction. Your county will determine what fees you’ll face, and their costs. Sometimes courts will lower your overall fines when you agree to complete a California traffic school class.

Additional Surcharges

Think those fines are bad? Well, there’s more. The state of California also adds an additional 20% surcharge on all traffic tickets. So, for example, if you are convicted of a violation that costs $40, an additional $8 charge will be added, making your fine $48.

California Points and Violations

Fines aren’t the only consequence of traffic offenses. All drivers across the state of California face the same penalties associated with their ticket. These penalties can range from adding points to your driving record to suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.

Points are assessed based on the severity of a violation:

  • 1-Point Violations: Speeding, running a red light, making an illegal U-turn, at-fault collision
  • 2-Point Violations: reckless driving, hit-and-run, DUI, driving with a suspended license

One-point violations will remain on your driving record for 3 years, while 2-point violations will stay there for 10 years. For 1-point offenses, drivers may have the opportunity to take a traffic school class to have the ticket masked from their public California driving record.

Drivers License Suspension, Revocation, or Cancellation

Drivers in California can lose their driving privileges in a number of ways. First, if you accumulate too many points from traffic violations, you will be considered a negligent operator resulting in a suspended or revoked license. In addition, you could face a 1-year probation sentence.

The following qualifies you as a negligent operator:

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

In addition, more serious crimes or violations will result in a suspended or revoked license.

  • A DUI conviction
  • Reckless driving or racing
  • Evading an officer
  • Possessing a firearm
  • Any felony or misdemeanor

A hit-and-run or reckless driving conviction that caused an injury will result in a revoked license. At the end of the suspension or revocation period, you may apply for a new driver’s license, and you must show proof of financial responsibility.

Commercial Drivers License Points

If you hold a commercial driver’s license, you are held to an even higher driving standard. Points and traffic violations could put your job and your CDL at risk.

CDL violations carry a value that’s 1½ points higher than a standard driver’s license offense. In addition, these tickets stay on your driving record significantly longer. For example:

  • A DUI or hit-and-run conviction will stay on your record for 55 years
  • An out-of-service violation remains for 10 years
  • A collision stays on your record for 10 years
  • A railroad crossing violation remains for 4 years

Auto Insurance Rate Increases

Keeping points off your driving record is one sure-fire way to keep your California auto insurance rates low. The more tickets you get and points you earn, the more your insurance will cost. It’s important to pay close attention to your California driving record, and if you do get a ticket, you should consider taking a traffic school class to keep your insurance company from seeing it.