When most people think of California drivers, the first word that comes to mind is “fast,” which is why speeding is the most issued traffic citation in the state. No one likes seeing blue lights behind them or suffering expensive consequences. To avoid getting pulled over, you must know California’s traffic laws.
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of California’s major speed laws. This could result in drivers unknowingly violating a law and being presented with a hefty ticket in the mail. To prevent the harsh consequences, here is an overview of California’s four major speed laws.
California’s Four Major Speed Laws
When you have been driving for a while, you get comfortable with the ways of the road. As a result, you might get too relaxed while driving and run the risk of violating traffic laws. In California, all drivers must abide by the speeding rules they have in place to keep everyone safe on the road. Below is an overview of the four major speed laws in California to protect drivers on highways and roadways.
Basic Speed Law
California’s basic speed law states that drivers can’t exceed the speed limit based on current road and weather conditions. However, you could still violate the law if you are following the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is deemed unsafe for the current conditions, you could receive a ticket.
Since it can be tricky to define the appropriate speed in these scenarios, here are some factors to pay attention to when you are driving:
- Animal signage
- Weather conditions
- Flow of traffic
- Number of vehicles on the road
- The road’s surface (Are there speed bumps?)
- Construction zones
- Nearby accidents
- Cars pulled over
Minimum Speed Law
Although it does not happen often, there are times when someone can get pulled over for driving too slowly. California’s minimum speed law encourages drivers to navigate within the speed limit. While driving too fast is dangerous, driving too slow can obstruct traffic and make it hazardous for those going with the flow of traffic.
Can you imagine driving down the highway and having to slam on your brakes because someone at the front of traffic is going 15 mph under the speed limit? Moving at such a slow rate can impede the normal flow of traffic and cause accidents. It is also a violation to stop in the middle of the roadway because it blocks normal traffic flow.
Maximum Speed Law
The maximum speed law is one of California’s most widely known laws. Why? Because it states that you can’t exceed the posted speed limit, including when trying to pass slower drivers. Exceeding the maximum speed limit puts other drivers at risk for accidents.
Most California highways have a maximum speed limit of 65 mph, allowing drivers a speed up to 70 mph. However, going 75 mph is breaking the maximum speed law.
Prima Facie Speed Law
California has maximum speed limits in areas where a limit may not be posted. If you don’t follow this speed law, you could face getting a ticket. This law aims to make the roads safe for all drivers and pedestrians. Not being aware of the speed limit is not a valid excuse in a court of law. Watch your surroundings and traffic flow to ensure you follow the appropriate speed limit.
Prima facie speed limits include 15 mph in alleys, railroad crossings, and highway intersections without 100 feet of visibility and 25 mph in residential areas, school zones, and business districts. For example, if you are driving 40 mph in a business district, you are breaking the prima facie law.
Consequences of Breaking California’s Speed Laws
What happens when you break one of California’s major speed laws? The state of California issues fines and fees for traffic violations. The DMV may also apply license-related penalties to repeat offenders. Below, we will explain the consequences one might face if speeding on California’s roadways.
California’s Point System
A speeding ticket will result in at least one point on your driver’s license. Those who have accumulated over 2 points in 12 months, 4 points in 24, or 6 points in 36 months will receive a warning letter from the DMV. The letter will explain why you received those points and state the consequences of acquiring more.
Drivers who receive additional points after the first warning letter receive a second letter stating that if they receive more violations, their license will be suspended. If the driver continues to rack up points, the DMV can issue a license suspension for up to a year.
Here are some point values for specific violations:
- Reckless driving—2 points
- DUI—2 points
- Speeding 100 mph or more—2 points
- Racing—2 points
- Driving while license is suspended or revoked—2 points
Reminder: if you’re a commercial driver, the normal point values are multiplied by 1 1/2.
How Much Do Speeding Tickets Cost?
One of the biggest motivators for driving within the speed limit is the price of speeding tickets. Tickets are different from what they seem. They start with a base amount and build from there. For example, a speeding ticket could originally cost 50 dollars, but with additional fees and penalties, your ticket can come out to 250 dollars. Drivers should prepare to pay five to seven times more than the base fee.
Violating California’s speeding laws could result in many consequences, from paying hundreds of dollars to having a revoked license or even spending a day or two in jail. To prevent these unfortunate scenarios, it is always best to practice safe and defensive driving.
Whether you see yourself as a careful driver or someone with a need for speed, having insurance is essential. Car insurance is required by law in California and helps protect you financially from unforeseen incidents. We understand that insurance can be pricey, so we offer affordable auto and home insurance in Long Beach and other surrounding cities.
Keep yourself and your vehicle safe from accidents, thieves, and other incidents by talking to our agents today!