Speeding Fines In the U.S. - The Worst Places To Go Over The Limit in America

The USA’s organizational system has allowed individual states to have different regulations from many points of view. While federal laws still apply across all territories, states can impose stricter or less strict sanctions for speeding. The same velocity could get you in jail in one place, while another state will let you off with a ticket.
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Police cruiser on the moveStack of dollar billsMulti-lane road at sunsetSpeed limits in the USA
In Europe, you might have a tough time understanding regulations from another country because they might not be in English, but this excuse does not exist in the USA. Even if it did, remember that a person still has to abide the law even if they do not know it, and this applies to speeding.

Remember, this article is not meant to support speeding, but its purpose is to inform readers where they should be extra careful with abiding the speed limit. You can use the information presented below in any way you like, but we suggest you employ common sense and reason.

While it may be true, each state considers the gravity of a driving error when issuing a fine, and the area and time of day when it happened. Many states in the USA will increase the penalty for speeding if it is in an active construction area, or if it occurs in a school zone during program hours.

As always, the best tip for avoiding a ticket is to abide the speed limit. Keep your seatbelt on, make sure your occupants have done the same, and stick to your lane, and you will be okay.

Before we write about the worst and least-worst places to be caught speeding, let’s review the areas where it is most likely to get a traffic ticket. According to, Florida is the US State where drivers are most likely to get a fine, while Montana is the state where it is least probable to get a penalty.

Drivers must also remember that over three-quarters of American states employ “absolute” speed limits, which is a system that allows the conviction of a person just by going after that limit.

The rest would allow drivers to argue in courts if they were reasonable or not. Jail time is not mandatory for speeding in the USA, but a reckless driving conviction can land one a night at the police station.

Another important point to mention here is that half of U.S. states do not call drivers to court for reckless driving on a specific threshold or a particular number of mph over the limit.

Furthermore, if the speeding penalties were not enough, all U.S. states employ insurance increases when drivers get tickets for speeding or reckless driving, and the increase goes from three percent to over 60%.

The worst states for speeding

Police cruiser on the move
In Georgia, the maximum penalty for the first speeding ticket is $1,000. You can end up in jail for up to a year if you screw things up. The same value brings the maximum ticket in Illinois for the first speeding ticket.

The state of Nevada also employs the same value as the maximum penalty for the first speeding ticket, and it has a six-month maximum jail sentence is you rack up too many points on your license from speeding.

In New Hampshire we find the same maximum ticket for first-time speeders, and you can get a ticket if you do not go ten mph below the limit in school zones.

The state of North Carolina also has a $1,000 penalty for first-time speeders, and they can go to jail for up to two months if the cross the line too far. California has a maximum speeding fine of $600, but other fees may apply. Furthermore, your insurance will go sky high if you speed in California.

In Virginia, which is famous for its harsh legal system regarding speeding, and you can easily get jail time if they catch you driving fast. Small offenses are relatively cheap, but driving 80 mph anywhere in the state can land a $2,500 fine, complete with up to a year in prison. Virginia is also one of the top states when the number of yearly tickets issued is concerned.

There is a $600 penalty for speeding in New York, and jail time is up to 30 days if you go 30 mph (48 km/h) over the limit. Speeding in a tunnel in Massachusetts gets one a $500 fine, and each mph over the limit costs $10 on top of the minimum $100 fine for the rest of the roads.

The state of New Jersey has the most speed traps in the U.S. per state, and it collects $30,000 per mile in road user fees. Going ten mph (16 km/h) over the limit in NJ will classify the offense as “racing” on public highways, and it doubles the regular fine.

The states with lower fines for speeding

Stack of dollar bills
If you are a first-time speeding offender in Oregon, the maximum ticket will be $600. In Indiana, the maximum penalty is $500 for first time speeding, but it can be doubled if you did it in a school zone, or extra money if it happened near a construction site.

The state of Kansas shares the $500 maximum penalty for those caught speeding for the first time, and so does Maryland. However, if you are speeding in a school zone in Maryland, the penalty is doubled.

There is an unexpectedly clear legislation regarding speeding in Colorado, and fines range from $36 to $232. Repeated offenders might pay more, mind you.

The maximum speeding ticket in Tennessee is just $50, but you can pay $500 if you are caught drag racing, which also comes with another “prize,” in the form of jail time.

The state of Idaho charges between $75 and $140 for speeding, but it seems that many people do that because the state has a high ranking in the number of tickets issued. Nearby state Montana has the fewest speed traps per mile in the USA, and fines range from $20 to a maximum of $100.

In North Dakota, the police fines drivers $10 for going ten mph over the limit, which is extremely lenient when compared to New Jersey. The state also has the lowest speed trap activity, and the lowest fines for state roads that have limits below 55 mph.


Multi\-lane road at sunset
Photo: Paul Kunitsky/
Some U.S. states are more likely to issue tickets than others, but this varies on a yearly basis. For example, in a single weekend in March 2010, Virginia issued 3,536 speeding tickets. That is not a rule, and the number of speeding tickets issued depends on the drivers, not the states themselves.

You must remember that the nation-wide average speeding ticket is $150, but the difference between the smallest and largest standard maximum penalty exceeds $2,400 between states.

The states that apply bigger fines also hand out more tickets. If you insist on driving above the speed limit or straight on the limit, make sure you are not in a school zone or near a construction zone.

Another tip, which applies worldwide, is to make sure that you are not the fastest vehicle driving on your section of road when speeding is concerned. That spells trouble wherever you are, except for the de-restricted sections of the German autobahn, but you might not be the fastest there.
Speed limits in the USA
Photo: Wikipedia user andros1337
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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