Common Traffic Tickets in California and How to Handle Them
No one likes receiving a traffic fine. If you get a ticket in California, not only will you have to pay a fine, but you are also likely to have points added to your driving record. Plus, you could also face an increase in your insurance premium.
The best way to avoid all of this is to drive responsibly. Let's take a look at some of California’s most common traffic violations, most of which can be easily avoided.
The 4 Most Common Traffic Tickets in California
California may have a relaxed coastal vibe, but law enforcement doesn’t favor a relaxed approach when drivers break the rules of the road. Hefty fines and the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), a points-based traffic violation system, act as deterrents against reckless behavior. Unfortunately, many drivers still pick up traffic tickets far too often. Here are some of the most common traffic violations in California.
Did you know that drivers in California are 2.2 times more likely to drive at speeds over 100 mph than in any other state? Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations in California.
It’s easy to miss speed limit signs if you’re preoccupied or distracted. Keep your eye on the road and don’t engage in any distracted driving activities.
If you simply have lead in your foot, it’s time to change your driving behavior. The faster you drive, the easier it is to lose control of the vehicle and the greater the chance of being killed should you crash.
2. Running a Red Light
Whether it’s driver impatience or underestimating the danger of driving through a red light, many California drivers seem to get caught running a red light. This is risky behavior that could lead to a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian. Resist the temptation to chase a yellow light or roll through a stop sign. It can land you a ticket that costs $500.
Tailgating is when you are driving too close to the vehicle in front, i.e. driving nose-to-tail. In Los Angeles, aggressive tailgating is prevalent and can spark incidents of road rage. Tailgating is also a leading cause of rear-end collisions. Should the car in front brake suddenly, you are likely to slam into the back of it.
To keep a safe following distance, stick to the 3-second rule. When the car in front passes a certain point, count to three seconds. If you pass the same point before the three seconds are up, you’re following too closely.
4. Hit and Run
Sadly, hit-and-run accidents also feature at the top of the California traffic violations list. The reasons for fleeing a scene include driving without a license, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if the driver has committed other crimes.
A hit-and-run incident is a serious infraction, especially if someone has been seriously injured or killed. If only property or vehicles are damaged in the accident, this is considered a misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000 or a jail sentence of up to six months. If someone is killed, it becomes a felony and you could face a fine of up to $10,000 or a four-year prison sentence.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in California
Depending on the violation, you have the following options in handling a traffic ticket.
Appear in court, plead guilty, and pay the fine or do the time. Case closed. The charge will, however, be listed on your driving record.
Plead not guilty and fight the charge. Perhaps you were speeding because of an emergency. If you can prove you have a valid reason, the charge may be dismissed.
Attend traffic school. In some cases, the judge will instruct you to attend a California traffic school or take a defensive driving course. Completing a defensive driving course can also help reduce your traffic points.
Hire a lawyer. This is recommended for more serious charges like a DUI or felony hit-and-run.
Stay on the Right Side of the Law
Traffic laws are occasionally amended or updated in California. At the beginning of 2020, California instituted new laws related to distracted driving and cannabis use for passengers, among others.
Be aware of any changes to traffic laws so that you don’t unknowingly break any laws. Traffic laws are there for a reason — to keep you and your fellow road users safe. Plus, you’ll avoid those nasty traffic tickets.