Calculating your traffic ticket fine can be difficult these days. As noted by one Orange County Judge, “if I were that good at math, I would have attended MIT or Harvard and gone to medical school instead of law school.” This statement is truer today than ever. The Court assesses a fine based on a statutory amount that is much less than your total fine. This article is a brief description of how the Courts calculate your fine and what most traffic tickets cost!
The Court adds your Base fine, the Penalty Assessment and Court Fees to calculate your total fine.
Base fine + Penalty Assessments + Court Fees = Total Fine
The Base fine
is determined statutorily by the State and the uniform bail schedule that makes sure penalties are applied equally in each County. Specifically, the Court determines the base fine by using the vehicle code section charged against you. In traffic citations, the base fine is usually $35, $70, $100, and in some cases $200, which can be increased or decreased by the Court. For example, the fine of a speeding ticket can increase depending on how fast you are allegedly going over the speed limit. The base fine is usually the amount you hear when in front of a Judge, but it’s far from your total cost.
The Penalty assessment (PA)
is where the State brings in most of its money. The penalty assessment is a surcharge the State adds that can total up to 300% of your base fine. The Orange County Court currently calculates the penalty assessment of a fine by adding $27.29 for every $10 or portion thereof from the base fine. So, if you have a base fine of $35, the Court will add $27.29 to each $10 portion, four in this case ($27.29 x 4), which is an additional $109.16 to your total fine amount.
Lastly, there are Court fees applied that go toward maintaining the Courts and the Court system. These fees usually total an additional $85 to $100 in charges and may be increased or decreased by the County.
Additional fees to watch out for:
Traffic School Fee,
if you want to attend traffic school, the Court charges an additional fee: $54 in Orange County and $64 in Los Angeles County.
if you fail to appear or fail to make a payment to the Court as promised, the Court can add a $325 civil assessment to your fine and put a hold on your Driver’s license with the DMV.
As you can see, this all adds up quickly. Hopefully, this information equips you with the knowledge to not just give up but to work with experienced attorneys and get a fair chance of beating these fees. We’ve handled thousands of cases and know how to win. Contact RPM Law now.
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Based on current standard for calculating PA as applies to citations issued after July of 2019, citations issued before July 2019 can be more. Amounts based on fines and fees as Calculated in Orange County, other counties may have differing amounts.
California Uniform Bail Schedule
Break down of how fines are calculated and where the money goes