• Aug 30th 2010 at 2:00PM
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Speeding tickets are never cheap, but getting caught go... Speeding tickets are never cheap, but getting caught going over the limit in certain places could hurt your wallet even more than usual (Richard Faulder, Flickr).

How much were you fined the last time you were stopped for speeding? Depending on where you live, the penalty could range from under a hundred bucks to a couple of thousand dollars or more, even for a first offender. All across America, local legislators seemingly have one eye on road safety and the other on cash-strapped coffers. But is it as simple as that? We take a look. And if you haven't been stopped yet, well, lucky you.

States with highest speeding-ticket fines

Drivers caught speeding in the states of Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire all are liable to be fined up to $1000, at a judge's discretion, for a first-time speeding offense, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The severity of the financial penalty also may depend upon the number of miles above the speed limit when clocked and the number of points on a driver's license, or if the offense occurred near a school or road works. A driver's license may also be suspended, their car impounded, or they may face jail time.

Some states including Michigan, Texas and New Jersey, operate under so-called "driver responsibility" laws, which, in some cases, can result in a further fine of up to $1000 leveled a year after the conviction. Virginia, which until 2008 had some of the strictest penalties for speeders, repealed its driver-responsibility laws last year after a public outcry. Georgia, meanwhile, has just voted to add $200 to the fine of what it terms "superspeeders," who travel more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Other states with fines of up to $500 -- which in many cases is then compounded with additional court fees -- include Maryland, Missouri and Oregon.

Fighting speeding-ticket legislation in Michigan

Under the driver-responsibility fee system, speeders in Michigan face a double charge for their offense, the first issued by a municipality and the second by the state; taking into account various additional fees, both can top $1000. Similar penalty systems are in place for reckless driving and DUIs. The state also annually charges drivers who maintain seven or more points on their license. The 2004 law has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars for state and local coffers, and faces criticism that it entraps low-income drivers in a circle of debt once they've been convicted of speeding. Some also question collection procedures.

State Sen. John Gleason, who is leading the fight in the state legislature to repeal the laws, tells AOL Autos: "We've heard from so many people its horrendous effect on families. They lose their jobs and it impacts their family. Poor people can't get out from under the obligation, $1000 is a tremendous amount of money.

"People make mistakes. Every single one of us has been on a highway, and several have made decisions we wish we could redo. We should not be penalized on our ability to pay."

Calling the issue a "bipartisan one," he says recent efforts to repeal the act have stumbled in the legislature, but he's still hopeful passing a bill that "doesn't include such an awful amount of money." He suggests taking a look at other penalty systems that could be based on drug courts or alcohol-treatment centers.

Additional penalties in Georgia

Georgia in May this year passed the so-called "superspeeders" act, which adds $200 to the fine of a driver, caught driving more than 75 mph on two-lane roads and 85 mph or more on freeways. In some counties, speeders are already leveled municipal fines that can add more than $1000 to any ticket. The enhanced state fines are justified, says Bob Dallas of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, as a deterrent against speeding. He also points out that funds from the statewide speeding program, which begins Jan. 1, 2010, will be put toward trauma care centers across the state. Currently he is organizing a public-awareness campaign around the fines using TV, web and radio ads, electronic roadway signs, and fliers at truck stops and filling stations.

"Every driver who is going to excessively speed on our freeways will be fined $200 extra. If you don't pay, your license will be suspended. We want to make sure the public listens to the message.

"To the average person out there we are one of the regions where people look to make up time [on long road-trips]. It's not a reputation we enjoy, because of the consequences. But there are folks out there who believe that other people are just driving too slowly.

"The goal here is to improve safety. And in addition to saving lives, the proceeds are going to expand trauma care. But if not a single ticket is written, because they can't find anyone speeding, that is the best scenario. We're trying to change the culture of speeding."

Controversy in Virginia

Virginia gained a reputation several years ago for having the most severe speeding laws in the U.S., when it began charging most speeders an additional $1,050 fine on top of its usual $300 fine. Limits for reckless driving were also lowered, with drivers caught at 10 mph above the legal limit liable to be cited for reckless driving, a possibly felony offense where the penalties are more severe. State lawmakers in Virginia expected to raise $60 to $120 million a year through the system, in a bill championed by state legislator Dave Albo. After a strong public reaction, the act was repealed last year.

Albo, a partner in a law firm specializing in traffic offenses, blames misinformation for the law's overturning. He tells AOL: "The problem was the internet got a hold of it, saying that if a driver didn't use the turn signal they'd have to pay $3,000. Most of the stuff posted wasn't accurate. And thousands were writing to their delegates saying, 'I can't believe this.'

"But the bill didn't apply to traffic misdemeanors, it was only if you killed somebody, or a DUI or reckless driving. There was so much misinformation out there. Drunk drivers kill one person a day in Virginia, and speeding is the second cause of injury and death.

"Alongside legislation we need more police; my constituents are always telling me we need more police on the roads."

Richard Diamond, the editor of www.thenewspaper.com, which campaigns on driving issues, says: "Virginia's reckless driving statute says 80 mph is automatic reckless. If you get written up at that speed, you face a charge that is just one step away from a felony. But the state also raised the speed limit on I-85 near the North Carolina border to 70 mph without altering the reckless statute to match. This creates an easy-to-write and very expensive ticket. It's a favorite because the plea bargains make it so the charge is never really challenged in court.

"This was at the heart of the abuser fee debate in Virginia. People were being hit with the $1,050 "reckless" abuser fee for what most people would consider an ordinary infraction. The problem with the reckless statute is [it's] still there."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      You have idiots in Cook county doing 100 MPH on their motorcycles and getting off in court. They should face jail time and lose their license, especially when they do it in Chicago in traffic. They don't wear helmets either.
      • 8 Months Ago
      "....State lawmakers in Virginia expected to raise $60 to $120 million a year through the system, in a bill championed by state legislator Dave Albo." "...Albo, a partner in a law firm specializing in traffic offenses, blames misinformation for the law's overturning." Q: What do you get when you have 5,000 Lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A: A good start!. Any questions? What a Scumbag!
      • 8 Months Ago
      Several years ago I was stopped and fined in the state of N. Carolina. Since then when I have to drive through the state, I plan so I do not buy gas, spend the night , or buy meals untill I am through that state. I stop only at rest areas when necessasy. Trucks were passing me by and they stopped 'me'. I will never spend any money in that state.
      • 8 Months Ago
      It's no coincidence these are the same states that were caught running speed traps to collect revenue.Same tricks new fines. I personally avoid giving my business or my time to states that resort to such cheap tricks to make money. Here's an idea, clean up your sht hole states and you may make enough money from the tourist trade to make up for you sleezy practice. Not to mention someone may actually want to live there that isn't some crack dealer. I think any neighboring state should charge them all fines for using their highways just to return the hospitality.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I just hope I get to run over a Politician as I pull over to get my speeding ticket. This will accomplish two things.....First, I will be helping the cash strapped community (that can't work on a real budget) and Second, I will be cleaning up America by getting rid of a greedy, lying, Politician.......Makes me want to go out and speed right now....
      • 8 Months Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      I received a ticket when I was younger while I was washing my car in my drive way. An officer stopped felt my tires and said that I was speeding on on 23 mile road. Gave me a ticket for 75 miles per hour.
      • 8 Months Ago
      chuckytaz1968, you really are a Moron. Must be all race car drivers are dead. Its the change of speed that kills, and idiots like you who don't know anything factual and don't pay attention to what they are supposed to while driving. Larceny is larceny, whether you pass a law so everyone is a law breaker, or you have greedy people in governmant who have no ethics and will cheat everyone for their own gain, and to ensure their jobs like all the crooked judges. But hey there isn't and honest person working for the government, that why there are revolutions and civil wars. Get ready!
      • 8 Months Ago
      its another scam to exploite money out of our pockets. Everyone speeds on the highway 70 mph speed limit means most drivers drive 80. Which you are saying is 1000.00 pleae note that next year when the new federal tax laws will even take more money. If you want to see some of hte new taxes for 2011 please visit www.kriegsview.com and you can see some new taxes imposed for next year.including the crazy death tax 55% of your money after you die goes to goverment ..check it out
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is what you get when you elect democrats and their runaway spending. The money has to be made up somewhere. All you need to do is find out who voted to raise the fines and vote them out of office.
      • 8 Months Ago
      '''Superspeeder"over 10 mph over the limit. what a load of BS. They shouldn't even pull you over unless you are 10 mph over the limit.
      • 8 Months Ago
      just drive around virginia if you can do it feasibly. and dont vacation there.
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