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The True Cost of a Speeding Ticket

Thousands of motorists view speed limits as more of a suggestion and not an actual law.

But driving just a few miles over could lead to a loss of money, driving privileges, and even human life.

Driving at excessive speeds, or even a few miles above the posted speed limit, seems like a victimless crime. Especially on desolate roads, late at night when traffic is minimal, and on highways with miles of empty lanes on the horizon.

But did you know that for more than two decades, speeding is to blame for approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities?

In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 9,378 driver fatalities due to speeding-related accidents.

The act of speeding doesn’t just carry with it the potential for catastrophe.

Being pulled over for exceeding the speed limit carries hefty monetary fines – depending on the state – and will mean a substantial increase in your car insurance rates.

The true cost of a speeding ticket goes beyond a monetary figure. Consider the following factors before revving up your engine on the open road.

The Average Cost of a Speeding Ticket

The average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States is $150.

Depending on how fast you’re going and what state you’re in, the average cost can vary quite a bit.

Three factors impact the cost of the ticket:

  • The state you’re in
  • How fast you’re going
  • Points against your license

If you speed at all, you should expect to get a ticket sooner or later. An estimated 1-in-6 Americans get slapped with a speeding ticket every year, equating to about 41 million people ticketed each year. With such a huge variance in ticket costs, it’s worth looking up the cost of a speeding ticket where you live. You’ll want to be prepared ahead of time. This is a great site for looking up the traffic laws in your state.

Speeding Ticket Costs by State

There’s a huge variance in cost between different states.

Nevada can charge heavy-footed motorists close to $1,000, even for first-time speeders. I lived in Nevada for two years and had no idea that tickets were this expensive. Now I’m really glad I never got pulled over while I was there. And I’ll definitely avoid speeding the next time I drive through there.

Alaska tickets are also pretty high with an average speeding ticket fine of $300 for first-time offenders.

On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoa has a starting ticket fine of $20.

One state gets you $20, the other gets you $1000.

International tickets can get even more extreme.The unverified world record for the most expensive speeding ticket ever didn’t happen on U.S. soil.

In 2010, a 37-year-old man in a brand new Mercedes-Benz SLR hit 186 mph on a highway in Switzerland. His hefty fine in Euros converts to just under $1 million

Speeding Ticket Costs By Speed

The second major factor in the cost of your ticket will be the speed you were going.

Lower speeds equals a smaller fine, higher speeds give bigger fines.

Take Colorado for example. Here’s the different ticket costs at different speeds:

  • 1-4 mph = $36
  • 5-9 mph = $80
  • 10-19 mph = $151
  • 20-24 mph = $232
  • 25+ mph = $100-300 and 10-90 days of jail time

The higher the speed, the heftier the fees get.

It’s safe to assume that a speeding ticket will cost you about $100-200 assuming you’re not speeding at an extreme level. Then I’d check the costs of your state in case they happen to be much higher or lower.

The Cost of Points on Your License

Driving over the limit doesn’t just ding your wallet.

Speeding tickets deduct valuable points off your driving record. Rack up too many points, and you could lose your license for a significant chunk of time and get hit with even higher fines.

For instance, driving five to ten miles per hour over the limit usually results in a deduction of two points in most states.

A speeding violation of over 15 miles per hour over could be worth three points.

These points have the potential of staying on a driving record for up to 10 years, depending on the state.

Since point systems vary by location, it’s in a person’s best interest to consult this website for information on specific states.

Even if you’re not worried about the cost of an individual ticket, definitely look into the number of points that your state allows before serious penalties kick in. And if you’re close to the point limit, I’d follow the speed limit exactly until some of the points fall off your record.

Other Expensive Traffic Violations

Racking up the speeding tickets is a surefire way to make money peel rubber out of your checking account, but other moving violations are just as costly.

Across the nation, one type of ticket stands out: the DUI.

DUI fines are no joke, you usually lose your license, and could even get jail time. While there is some variance between states, they all have substantial penalties.

Arizona, for example, will suspend a license for a year if found guilty of driving intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

Take a moment and think about the real cost of losing your license. Would you lose your job? Could you support your family? If you depend on your car in your day-to-day, losing a license could result in substantial costs.

Use an Uber or Lyft, get a regular taxi, walk home, whatever it takes. Just don’t drive after having any drinks. Not only is it incredibly dangerous to yourself and everyone around you, a DUI will impact your finances severely.

Reckless driving is another motor vehicle infraction that carries heavy monetary penalties. It’s defined as “a mental state in which the driver displays a wanton disregard for the rules of the road; the driver misjudges common driving procedures, often causing wrecks, accidents and other damages.”

Reckless driving charges can easily be tacked onto the standard speeding ticket depending on the driving conditions and often carry at least one day in jail on the first offense.

According to WalletHub, the average reckless driving ticket is $845.

Oregon tops the list at approximately $6,250 for the first offense. Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico are among the lowest penalties for reckless driving at around $100 in each state.

A recent addition to the list of expensive violations is distracted driving. Texting while driving now carries sizable fines and will also result in an insurance increase.

Driving without a valid license and running a red light may seem like harmless infraction, but both violations carry significant fines.

The Real Cost: Car Insurance Rate Increases

The true cost of a speeding ticket is often felt long after paying the initial fine and any court fees.

Just one speeding ticket could cause insurance rates to skyrocket, especially for drivers under 25 years old.

While every insurance company adheres to specific procedures for dealing with speeding violations, being pulled over and ticketed for speeding means a driver is a higher risk for insurance companies.

A traffic violation means a higher possibility for future violations. To compensate for that extra risk, they’ll raise your premiums.

A handful of insurance companies will forgive first-time offenses and some won’t increase rates so long as the motorist isn’t guilty of driving more than 15 miles over the posted speed limit.

This Traffic Ticket Calculator will give you a rough idea of what to expect by entering the details of your ticket including the specific violation, the state, and your current yearly premium.

For example, a speeding ticket between 1-15 MPH in New Jersey, with a yearly insurance premium of $1700, calculates out to an addition $289 per year.

Once again, price increases vary depending on the state, but other factors an insurance company will consider before charging the new rate include how fast a person was traveling and previous violations.

I’d expect your annual premium to go up by a few hundred dollars if you get a speeding ticket.

If your driving record is littered with speeding tickets affecting your premium and purse, the insurance company Allstate suggests shopping around for a company with lower rates or enrolling in defensive driving courses. And if you really want to get your costs back down, avoid speedings and wait for your previous tickets to fall off your record.

The Total Cost

Extensive fines, higher insurance rates, loss of license, jail time, and even death are all possible from speeding.

On average, expect to pay $100-200 for the ticket fine and another couple of hundred dollars in insurance premiums. Some states and insurance companies will charge you less, some charge you more. Check to see how your state ranks to get a more accurate estimate.

And watch those points on your license. Once they add up, the penalties become much more severe.

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