It’s the moment drivers dread most: looking in the rear view mirror, and seeing those flashing blue and red lights. Now, a survey reveals that getting hit with a speeding ticket in Southern California could cost you much more than you expect.
According to the consumer finance blog NerdWallet, the Los Angeles metropolitan area is the most expensive place in California to get a speeding ticket. Glendale, Compton, Inglewood and Lynwood also made the survey’s top ten.
Rounding out the list: the Northern California cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Richmond and Daly City.
In California, the base fine for a speeding ticket is around $35 for going 15mph over the speed limit. If you surpass the posted limit more, that fine can climb anywhere from $70 to $100 dollars.
But the fine is just the start.
According to NerdWallet’s recent analysis of state records, once convicted, California drivers can end up paying more than 20 times the amount of the actual ticket, after city and county taxes, court fees and raised insurance rates are factored in. That results in an average cost of $709.59 for a ticket with a $35 base fine.
Drivers tagged for speeding in the L.A. area spend an average of $907.22 a year in fines, fees and insurance premium increases.
But some Southern Californians have found a way to avoid the fines, including Los Angeles resident, and Maserati owner, Ralph Lacher.
"Three tickets… within a year," he said, describing his recent driving record to the I-Team.
But Lacher hasn’t had to pay the city or state a penny of that; instead he paid Ticketbust.com.
"Ticketbust.com is a service that helps people contest traffic tickets using what’s called a ‘trial by written declaration,'" said company president and CEO Steve Miller.
He was referring to the option printed on every ticket, giving drivers the opportunity to document in writing a legal challenge to a citation. Ticketbusters.com, and companies like it, guide drivers through the process, then send a copy to the court; the officer who issued the ticket must respond in writing.
"One way tickets are dismissed [is that] officers don’t like to respond to those," explained Miller.
"Officers are paid to go to court, they get paid overtime, they show up in court," he continued. "They are not paid extra to fill out paperwork and respond to a trial by declaration."
Miller told the I-Team drivers can challenge their tickets on their own, by submitting a "trial by written declaration" form to the designated traffic court by mail or in person, with the bail amount in full, prior to the date on the citation. If the ticket is dismissed or the traffic officer who issued the ticket doesn’t appear, state law requires the court to refund the full bail amount, and the case will be closed.
"That one document can really be the difference between insurance, points on your record, your livelihood," added Miller.
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