You’re cruising along with the radio on, not a car in the world on a bright sunny day then — BAM — blue lights in the rear view mirror.
Your day is officially ruined.
It’s bad just about anywhere, but in these states, a speeding ticket hurts like no other.
Steepest Fines: Georgia
Georgia’s speeding fines are brutal. When the federal government abolished a national speed limit in 1995, Georgia picked up its speed limit to 70 miles per hour on “rural interstates,” but on “urban interstates” and other limited access roads, the Peach State sat at 55 miles per hour, a speed that was enacted before the widespread adoption of radial tires, let alone anti-lock brakes and more advanced collision equipment.
Then Georgia doubled down. It became one of five states — Illinois, North Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire are the others — that allowed judges to levy fines up to $1,000 at the judge’s discretion for a first offense. Those fines are typically for speeders caught in flagrant acts of willful negligence, so running at 70 in a 55 probably won’t get you rung up that badly, but still.
In addition, Georgia is one of several states that have enacted “Super Speeder” regulations, that allow the state to tack on fees of $2oo in addition to the fine for speeds in excess of 75 mph on urban highways and other limited access roads, and for speeds in excess of 85 mph on rural highways.
The $1,000 first offense and the additional $200 in fees is more than the first offense for carrying a concealed weapon in Georgia.
Most Speed Traps: Texas
Texas makes a lot of hay with conservatives because it doesn’t have an income tax. Don’t think the state isn’t going to extract that money from your pocket some other way, though. When the National Motorists Association studied the states that had a particularly strong propensity for “Policing for Profit” Texas came out the clear winner.
In 2015, when the National Motorists Association looked at the number of speed traps added, Texas came in first with 1,383, eclipsing California by more than 300 speed traps.
Specific places in Texas were singled out. “Using data from its website, The National Speed Trap Exchange, the NMA has identified the worst states for speed trap activity throughout the country,” reads the website. You can research your own state and see where speed traps are most likely to spring up in your area.
Most Speed Traps Per 1,000 Miles: Hawaii
Hawaii has a 60 mile per hour speed limit on its highways, and it puts a lot of speed traps on them to keep the speeds low.
The National Motorists Association studied the state and found that it had more speed traps per thousand miles of highway than any other state in America, with 4.74 traps per 1,000 miles.
“These results reveal which states are the habitual offenders when it comes to ‘Policing for Profit,’” said NMA President Gary Biller. “They point to a need to reform the traffic justice system for greater accountability with less emphasis on generating revenue and more on public safety.”
Worst State For Fighting a Parking Ticket: Massachusetts
In 2005, a Massachusetts resident named Vincent Gillespie got a $15 parking ticket in the small town of Northampton, in Central Massachusetts.
Gillespie disputed the ticket, noting that there were no signs preventing parking in that spot, and he wasn’t blocking anything. Gillespie was shocked to learn that in Massachusetts, in order to have his day in court, he had to pay $319.90 in filing fees with the Hampshire County Superior Court. $275 of that fee was non-refundable whether he won or lost his case.
Massachusetts is the only state in the union that assesses such a non-refundable court filing fee. For many residents that are taking the time to fight tickets because of the financial strain, and for that reason, Gillespie and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union argued the fee’s constitutionality.
The case went as far as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, where Gillespie’s lawyers argued that the fees effectively negated his constitutional right to due process of law. In its ruling, however, the Massachusetts SJC said that Gillespie hadn’t met the burden of proof. According to the SJC, the fee system prevents “the filing of nonmeritorious appeals,” keeping courts from getting clogged up with frivolous cases.
If you want to fight a ticket in Massachusetts, you still have to pay the $275 non-refundable fee for the privilege, but Gillespie is still fighting. He’s also attempting to make bicyclists aware that the fee also applies to them. Since bicyclists don’t get moving violations the way a car does, they’re subject to the $275 fee, as well.
For more information, visit Gillespie’s website at https://massdriversrights.wordpress.com/.
Most Unfair Tickets Written: Washington, DC
The District of Columbia might not be a state, but by far, its police department writes unfair tickets at an egregious rate. And that’s not coming from some motorist’s advocacy group, or even AAA; it’s coming from the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General.
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the OIG blistered the practice, noting that “motorists in the city are presumed guilty until they can prove themselves innocent, that tickets were issued to drivers who never entered the city, and that although ticket reviewers in the city cannot distinguish which car was speeding on multi-lane roads in the city, they were still issuing tickets to innocent drivers.”
The practice resulted in a staggering 2.83 million tickets written in a one-year period, pulling $83 million into the District’s coffers.
And that’s just moving violations. In addition, DC is positively draconian regarding parking violations, writing 5.5 million parking violations in a three year period, totaling more than a quarter billion dollars in revenue.
Two additional figures are a direct result of the overzealous ticket writing: AAA Mid-Atlantic notes that in 2013, over $55 million in ticket fines in DC went unpaid, and second, 55 percent of drivers who challenged tickets in DC actually won their cases.
Good thing they don’t live in Massachusetts.