Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Kristin

Photo credit: Taras Makarenko/Pexels

Getting pulled over for speeding is always stressful, but the situation can be even more nerve-wracking when it happens in a rental car. Here’s what happens when you get a speeding ticket in California, and what you should do.

How Much Are Speeding Fines in California?

At first glance speeding fines California can appear to be cheap. The base fine of the ticket may only be $20 or $30, which doesn’t sound like a big deal. However, the state is known for adding other sucharges that increase the ticket price substantially. The amount can vary widely depending on the county and the number of additional fees added onto the base fine. For example, you could wind up paying $178 on a ticket with a base fine of only $20.

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One particularly serious speeding violation is driving over 100 mph, which can carry a base fine of as much as $1,000 and license suspension. So, resist the urge to zoom down that seemingly barren desert highway—someone might be watching.

Drivers should note that speed limits have increased in the last year on some Los Angeles streets to counteract laws that prevent police from giving out tickets, the Los Angeles Times reported in Dec. 2018.

According to the National Motorists Association’s website, the worst California cities for speed traps include Santee, Brea, Davis, Hacienda Heights and Mariposa. Burbank, Riverside and San Francisco are also in the top 10.

How to Handle a Speeding Ticket in a Rental

Unlike parking tickets and toll violations, which are typically tied to the vehicle, a speeding ticket is generally tied to the driver. If a police officer pulls you over, you’ll be able to handle the fine on your own—possibly without the rental company ever finding out. From there, you can pay the fine or fight it. Going to traffic school or taking a defensive driving course online may also be an option for avoiding points on your record.

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There is one way the rental company could find out about the issue. Getting caught by a speed camera that takes a photo of the plate would mean that the rental company would be notified of the fine—and pass on to you at a later date with an added fee. If you receive a notice in the mail about a fine triggered by a speed camera, be sure to pay it right away to avoid dealing with a collections agency.

How to Pay a Speeding Ticket in California

Whether or not you live in California, you’ll have to pay the fine. Most states have agreements with one another to report the fines, and sometimes add points on your license. You can also try to fight the fine, although this can mean incurring legal costs and showing up for court.

The easiest way to pay a speeding ticket in California (especially for out-of-state drivers) is online through the website belonging to the county that issued it. Most counties also offer options to pay in person, by phone or by sending a check through the mail.