How Much is That Traffic Ticket Really Going to Cost You?

Getting a traffic ticket is the worst. In an ideal world, we’d never have bad driving habits; but sometimes, we slip up, and we get called to account for it. But something people never stop to consider is the fact that when you do get caught, you can pay way more than just the cost of the ticket. Heck, the cost of the ticket is just the start of this particular fiscal nightmare.

Keep in mind: these fees aren’t in place to rip you off. They’re in place for two reasons: one, to offer you a pretty powerful incentive to stay within the speed limit and drive safely, and two, so that it’s the people breaking the traffic laws who primarily pay for traffic court instead of the taxpayers. But that doesn’t make the bite hurt any less. Here are some of the fees you can expect to pay for a given speeding ticket.

Insurance Premiums

Needless to say, if you can’t get that ticket off your record, it goes straight to your auto insurance. How high can it go?

Up to 25%, depending on the severity of the violation. This is because speeding kills; those are the facts. And you’ve just sent your insurer a very clear signal that you’re a lot more likely to cost them a lot of money all of a sudden.

The good news is that this percentage will gradually drop and then vanish after three or so years…provided you can keep within the speed limit.

Court Costs

Like we said, there are rules in place to shift the cost of running the courts onto the people making use of them: namely, people getting speeding tickets. How much you’ll pay in court costs vary from state to state: for example, in Ohio, it will run you $124. But, just like cars, that’s the basic package, and there are plenty of hidden costs even there.

Say you want to just pay your ticket on your credit card and have done with it; they’ll be happy to run the card…but since they get charged swipe fees, doing so will likely result in a 4 to 5% “convenience fee.” Want a trial transcript? That’ll cost you. Want to appeal? That’ll cost you.

Vehicle Administrative Fees

The fun’s not over yet: some states, like New York, will charge you a “vehicle assessment fee” over three years, as a little reminder that speeding will hurt your wallet. Even in states without these fees, if your car is impounded, you’ll have to pay the storage fees and other costs to get it out and drive it off the lot.

But once you have your car back, you’ll still, according to many states, have to relearn how to drive it, or make restitution for your bad behavior

Traffic School and Community Service

Let’s say you either drove way too fast, or followed our tips for keeping a ticket off your record and bargained the judge into an alternative punishment. Now you’ve got traffic school.

Traffic school is not provided free of charge: you’ll have to pay to get in. Even if you get an alternative sentence, like community service, it’s still money coming out of your wallet: you have to pay to get there, and there’s the money you lose when you could be doing something else.

In short: don’t speed. It costs, and it costs more than you think.

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