Reckless Driving Laws - Speeding Laws

California’s Speeding Laws and Penalties

While a simple speeding ticket in California may not call for much more than a small fine, larger issues, such as reckless driving or vehicular homicide, bring far higher penalties with them. In fact, some violations incur hefty fines and jail time, and judges may set bail for certain offenders. While bail bonds provide good options for getting out of jail and returning to one’s life while waiting for a court date, it is better by far to practice smart driving techniques at all times. California residents as well as those traveling through the state should be familiar with the penalty for speeding in California as well as with the many types of speeding laws here.

Basic Speeding Law

California has three types of speeding laws, and the basic speeding law states that drivers should not travel faster than is safe for the area. This takes into account the weather, visibility, condition of the roadway and any animals, children or other pedestrians that are nearby. For example, while a posted speed limit may say 55 mph, a driver could be pulled over for going that speed if the roads are icy at night.

Absolute Speed Limit

The absolute speed limit is the maximum speed allowed as posted on roadway signage. California has several absolutes, such as 70 mph on most rural freeways, 65 mph on divided roads and 30 mph in residential districts. This law is easy to understand as anyone traveling over the posted speed can be stopped and may be charged with a speeding violation.

Presumed Speed Limit

While the presumed speed limit is a bit more difficult to define, it refers to unmarked speed limits in certain zones. This is the most difficult driving law to follow for non-residents who may be unsure of these unposted laws. However, California considers the presumed speed limit in school zones to be 25 mph and in alleys and highway intersections with poor visibility to be 15 mph.

Costs of a Speeding Ticket

A speeding ticket in California starts with a base fine that can be quite small. For example, those driving 1 to 15 mph over the speed limit will incur a $35 base fine. While that may sound low, the actual costs of a speeding ticket are usually much higher. In fact, first-time offenders generally pay over $700 for a speeding violation on average. This is due to the many surcharges that California adds, such as assessments for state penalties, county penalties, convictions, court operations and much more.

Some speeding violations start far higher even than this. Speeding in a construction zone has base fines starting at well over $300. In addition, speeding at over 100 mph starts with a $500 base fine for a first offense.

Charges for Reckless Driving and Vehicular Homicide

In some situations, speeding can lead to a conviction of reckless driving, which is defined as driving without any regard for the people nearby or for their property. Fines are obviously heftier with this charge and may come with up to 90 days of jail time. Speeding with an added conviction of vehicular homicide will incur criminal charges in many cases. For example, drivers could be convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter or negligent vehicular manslaughter, especially if driving while intoxicated.

The Driving Record

Along with the fines and possible jail time and driving privilege suspension for violating certain California driving laws, offenders will also find their driving records affected. For every violation, individuals will accrue one to two points. Drivers who receive four or more points in 12 months will have their licenses suspended. Plus, these points can cause an automobile insurance company to raise one’s rates exponentially.

Clearly, breaking the speeding law or accruing other types of driving violations in California can become quite costly, even for first-time offenders. Plus, it can leave drivers temporarily without their licenses or in need of bail bonds for major offenses. While it is possible to fight a speeding violation, this process can become quite lengthy. Instead, drivers in the state should understand the penalty for speeding in California as well as applicable laws to ensure that they on the right side of the law.

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