Who and what determines the
actual cost of your Bakersfield traffic ticket? Is there a set formula, or is it more of a case-by-case determination?
The base fine is the core of your traffic ticket. The statute itself generally
sets a maximum fine, and the base fine is typically about a third of the
maximum fine. Thirty counties, including Tulare and Fresno Counties,
have permission to exceed the base fine in some cases. This amount has remained essentially unchanged since at
least the 1990s. The state and the local government split the revenue.
controversial add-ons have exploded in roughly this same time period. This increase is the main
reason your traffic ticket in Kern County now costs so much. The formula
is complicated, but the rule-of-thumb is that there are at least $2 in
PAs for every $10 of the fine (the maximum fine and not the base fine).
The revenue is earmarked for specific state and local government programs,
everything from emergency medical services to facilities maintenance to
special criminal programs.
The SD is essentially an additional surcharge that the state adds in some
cases. The most common example is the traffic court fee, if the defendant
elects that option. Common violations, such as running a red light, may
involve an SD. The state also has the authority to "borrow"
from the SD fund during a budgetary crisis so, if the state has no money,
there are generally more and higher SDs.
Traffic violations can be roughly lumped into three categories: faulty
equipment, moving violation, and moving violation while travelling over
25 mph. In these three classifications, this is how the fine system works: