By on January 10, 2008

officerwritingticket.jpgThinking about taking a road trip this year? Not so fast Bucko! No, really. Not so fast– especially if you're going to be traveling the I-95 corridor in the eastern U.S. Forbes has compiled a list of the ten most expensive states for speeding tickets, and half of them are along I-95. Virginia, the only newcomer to the list, jumps directly to the top. While NHTSA says the national median for a first offender is about $200, lead-footed drivers in the Old Dominion State can be hit with an incredible $1,350 fine for their first offense, thanks to a $1,050 surcharge added last year. The most expensive places to get stopped for speeding and their maximum fine for the first offense are:

Virginia – $1,350
Georgia – $1,000
Illinois – $1,000
Nevada – $1,000
New Hampshire – $1,000
North Carolina – $1,000
Utah – $750
Oregon – $600
Kansas – $500
Maryland – $500

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20 Comments on “Don’t Do the Crime if You Can’t Pay the Fine...”

  • avatar

    I’m an attorney who fights speeding tickets in NY. What I’ve seen is this…..

    Most interstate limits are underposted by 10-15 mph, if you use the Highway Engineering rule of the 85th percentile to set limits. So, on the New York State Thruway, with a 65 limit, speed surveys would show the correct limit to be 80 mph. The 85th percentile rule (google it) is well established for all but the Insurance Institute for Higher Premiums. Sadly, politicos set the limits by “gut”, not science. Your state Dept of Transportation takes speed surveys on a quarterly basis or more, and they know precisely how fast traffic is moving. I’m always amazed that the DOT has real numbers for speeds, the cops all know the real world speeds, the politicians all know the real speeds, but we still underpost the limits. The driver has no way of knowing the “real” speed limit on any stretch of road. The police like low limits because they are instant probable cause for a traffic stop, but the rest are a mystery.

    This is why “everyone” is speeding. Cops pull over at the 85th percentile…not that they figure it out that way, but as a practical matter, the pull speeds are normally the same.

    Now, even though the laws are “wrong”, we are all trained to observe the law, and if we break it, we are assumed to be wrong. Most speeders are otherwise law abiding, so they are very unhappy,and most pay the ticket. Since this is “free” money for the state, in that no one’s lobby is impacted, they feel free to pile on the fines for “speeders” and let the Court hear the complaints, which will end for political purposes when the fine is paid or a deal is given.

    Now, this system can only exist if the pain threshold is low enough. You must have enough police to enforce the limit so it does not become a complete joke, but you can’t bust the commuters on the way to work every day, because once solid citizens lose their licenses, then political pressure for change would result. So, you have to bust the normal driver once every two years or so…this keeps the revenue stream going, the “law” (underposted limit) is intact, and the insurance whores benefit.

    Yes, some drivers are dangerous and need police attention. The vast majority of tickets in my office (thousands) are “tax tickets” for small amounts on interstate roads, and I see no reason why this would not stretch to each area.

    The only thing you can do is FIGHT EVERY TICKET. Don’t just pay. Most who do pay do so because they feel bad, the ticket is under the category “denial”, and the motorist just wants to make it go away.

    The system is unfair. Cops are exempt (“company car” is heard on the scanner when a cop passes a radar trap), Judges have their own licence plates (I give great credit to the owner of a red corvette here in NY with Judge plates) DA’s have badges. Politicos have their own plates. They don’t get tickets as a general rule. Spouses also are exempt in most cases.

    The states which have increased the penalties have made a basic speed a $500 nut, at least. NY has a fine, a surcharge, and a Driver Responsibilty Assessment, meaning you pay three times for one ticket.

    The only organization which does anything to fight this is the National Motorist’s Association, I’ve been a member ever since the bad old days of 55, when I lobbied in Albany for a 70 mph limit (we got 65), organizing protests and doing radio and TV debates.

    Most people don’t think about speed limits or the “game” until snared. Alternately, they buy a detector and pay to opt out of the game. Still, there is no “opt out” unless you have the rare teflon as noted before. The great unwashed have no idea that ticket is $500, nor the other penalties the Legislature passed in the dead of budget deal making night (NY’s DRA tax was literally a midnight deal with no publicity).

    In response to the guy who says “just don’t speed”, I reply. “fine…stay out of the left lane, and going slower than the pack is also dangerous”. The studies of speed distribution show that in a world of 70 mph drivers, the chances of accident involvement are the same for the poky driver at 55 as they are for the 90 mph driver. The safest speeds are just slightly faster than the bulk of traffic, but these are almost always illegal.

    Fight every ticket.
    Join the NMA !!!!

  • avatar

    Virginia’s maximum fines only applies to state residents – if you’re from out of state, it’s much lower, but don’t forget that radar detectors are illegal here.

    Rationale: this was how they got around raising our state income/sales taxes.

  • avatar

    That article has some great advice, with the exception of hiring a lawyer. It does not cost $1500 to hire a traffic lawyer, most charge from $50-$150 per ticket. Always hire a lawyer, it almost always pays off, at the very least you don’t have to go to court yourself (which for me is worth at least $50). 3 out of 4 times I hired a lawyer they got me out of the ticket altogether. The other one they got a 20 over reduced to changing lanes without signal, saving me $300 and 4 points on my license.

    The water bottle trick is hilarious! I don’t think I could do that, but that’s a good one.

  • avatar

    We can beat that in Ontario Canada. Get caught for speeding and they take your car for a week. No you don’t get to fight it in court. The PRON(Peoples Republic of Ontario) calls it racing if you are caught speeding more than 50km/h(31mph) above the limit.

  • avatar

    I got a ticket back in Sept. here in Georgia, it only cost me $175. It was in the middle of the state no where near I-95.

    I was going to fight the ticket, except I would have lost almost a whole day at work because it was over an hour away from where I live. Plus the courts have been tacking on these bullshit high court cost fees that you have to pay weather you win or not and they are usually more expensive than the ticket. Like a penalty for using your right to defend yourself in court. A complete bullshit tax.

    I totally agree the most dangerous drivers are the ones driving way under the speed of the flow of traffic. Especially when they think they own the road.

  • avatar

    Agreed. Hiring an attorney is especially handy when you get a ticket in a far away county. Furthermore, it saves you money in the long run because they can keep points off of your license.

    All the state wants is your money anyways.

  • avatar

    Great post, speedlaw. As a 30+ year frequent multistate driver and occasional pulloveree, I found your numbers to be spot-on. Right now, I too reside in NY and got my token ticket last year. By appearing in person I got the ticket reduced to a $50 fine and no points. The local DA had a handful of pre-printed agreements for just this plea-bargain.

    I also got a ticket in [another state] last year… 90 in a 65. By paying the pled-down amount on time it was kept off my out-of-state record. Extenuating circumstances nowithstanding.

    This is a business, pure and simple. But at least they don’t sieze and crush your private property car in the US. Yet.

  • avatar

    One other point. The article states that “reckless driving arrests dropped”. This is because the police are well aware of the effect of the tickets they write.

    If a ticket has some sort of penalty like VA, and the cop sees they are not a person with money, he’ll ask him or herself how jammed up the person deserves to be. A smaller ticket might still do justice without eating the rent money, as these tickets now present themselves. So, a small roadside reduction occurs, which no one will ever be able to catch.

    The State and all those who supported these taxes should be ashamed.


  • avatar

    dolo54: “The water bottle trick is hilarious! I don’t think I could do that, but that’s a good one.” Please explain.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    This supports my prediction that an increased use of automated traffic cameras to write tickets will create a huge political backlash that will result in better laws and, ultimately, less ticket revenue.

  • avatar

    speedlaw: In response to the guy who says “just don’t speed”, I reply. “fine…stay out of the left lane, and going slower than the pack is also dangerous”.

    Good point.

    Some residents out in Kansas agree with you, too.
    This morning I tipped across an on line survey at KMBC TV, which asks:

    “Should slow drivers be ticketed for driving in the left lane?”

    While “slow” is not defined, of the 310 votes cast so far, 89% say yes (11% say no).

  • avatar

    the water bottle trick is described at the end of the Forbes article.

  • avatar

    The low speed limit is a classic case of government following the path of least resistance. All the possible penalties of setting the limit too high are potentially big and immediate, but the penalty of too slow is just a time tax that they percieve will not endanger any of their careers or take up too much of their time.

    The penalties for too slow a limit are actually quite large, but its much harder to nail them to a public official. First, time is a virtual zero sum game. Waste five minutes a day, lose that much of your life. When drivers later disobey other laws because they learned that the laws are too strict from the highway, no one will ever pin the results on the folks that set too low a limit on a certain road. Even if they could, the law breaker himself would HAVE to be punished. SO who would care.

    IOW, they inflict each of us with a little pain and loss to avoid the same to themselves. If you do all the math, you could likely justify a death penalty for them.

  • avatar

    Apropos of the water bottle story, I once heard of one even better. Someone used to travel frequently between Palm Springs and San Diego with his cat. On one such trip, he had a remote-control fart sound machine in the back seat. It had a wireless trip mechanism (sounds like the life of the party.) Well he got pulled over and the patrolman asked why he had disabilty license plates on his car. The man responded “because I suffer from irritable bowel disease incontinence.” At which point the cat moved in the back seat, tripping the fart machine remote. All the cop said was, “well, I guess you’d better find a bathroom fast!” True story.

  • avatar

    As a former police officer (who once got in trouble for refusing to write citations when some supervisor decided to test how seriously I objected to them) I agree – fight every citation in court. Using an attorney who specializes in traffic law is a good idea, also.

    Lots of reasons why, but here’s one that wasn’t mentioned – the attorneys will approach officers before court starts to try and cut deals – and unless the person was a complete putz and the officer noted it on the citation and/or remembered it, most of the time the officer will do the deal – the officer then leaves early, still collects his overtime, everybody wins. (Well, not really, but it’s better than fighting it out until the bitter end…)

    In 5 years, I only wrote one speeding citation – that’s only because I couldn’t figure out how to else to penalize the guy who made me spill my bagel. But the guy who made me spill my Yoo-Hoo – that was ugly. But that’s another story.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Speedlaw, thanks for the link. I’m already a member of SEMASAN, this is just another one to join!

  • avatar

    So, you have to bust the normal driver once every two years or so…this keeps the revenue stream going, the “law” (underposted limit) is intact, and the insurance whores benefit.

    Yup. That’s NY State’s official scam.

    What I’d like to know: Does NY State allow the ticketing officer to know, after pulling you over and running your license, how many points you have (or when you were last ticketed)? I’ve heard too many anecdotal stories of those with 2 tickets who are regularly let off with a “just slow down” warning.

  • avatar

    ihatetrees –

    The officer typically cannot see your citations on regular lookup (nor would a magistrate or judge prior to outcome of trial). I could see traffic related arrests (all arrests are visible because they could be an officer safety issue), but not regular infractions.

    It might influence determination of guilt, etc., not so much with officers, but with magistrates or judges.

    Clerks…now they see EVERYTHING…

  • avatar

    Virginia is the worst place for radar and the amount of the fines! more details at http://www.RadarReviews.Net

  • avatar

    Neat radar detector forum website I found Radar Detectors & Radar Detector Reviews

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