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How Much are Traffic Ticket Fines and Court Costs in Illinois?
In Illinois, some traffic tickets require that you appear in court and others allow you the option to pay the citation by mail, in person or to request a court date. When you appear in court for a traffic ticket in Illinois, if you plead guilty or are found guilty you may be assessed a fine as well as mandatory fees and court costs (also known as court assessments).
Traffic Ticket Fines
The fine imposed for your traffic ticket is ultimately up to the judge. However, Illinois law sets limits on the minimum and maximum fine allowed for any offense. Again, these fines do not include mandatory fees or court costs which the judge has no control over.
For example, the minimum fine for a minor traffic violation (e.g. disobeying a stop sign, improper lane usage or disregarding a traffic control device) is $25.00 and the maximum fine is $1,000.00, unless the law specifically provides for a different fine for the offense you are charged with.
The minimum fine for a major traffic violation (misdemeanor traffic offense) is $75.00. The maximum fine is $1,500 for a Class B misdemeanor (e.g. speeding 26-34 MPH over the limit) and $2,500.00 for a Class A misdemeanor (e.g. DUI, reckless driving, speeding 35+ MPH over the limit). Again, these maximums and minimums may be different if the law provides for a different fine for that specific offense. The fine imposed by the judge can be influenced by a number of factors including:
Traffic Court Costs (aka Court Fees or Court Assessments)
- Your driving record (Do you have any prior tickets, how long ago did any priors occur and what were the prior offenses?)
- The nature of the offense (i.e. Did the offense occur in a construction zone? Were workers present?)
- Your cooperation (i.e. Were you respectful toward the officer?)
Court costs are authorized by the Illinois General Assembly under the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (705 ILCS 135/15) and can vary slightly depending on the county where your ticket is assigned. Court costs/assessments will be added to any fine imposed by the judge. Court costs are mandatory upon a plea of guilty or finding of guilty. This is true whether you receive a conviction or a sentence of court supervision.
In Cook County, base court costs for petty traffic tickets are approximately $254.00. Court costs for major traffic offenses are approximately $362.00. Court costs for DUI are approximately $1,381.00. Court costs for other misdemeanor offenses are around $439.00. These amounts can vary slightly depending on which police department issued the ticket or initiated the arrest.
In Lake County and DuPage County, court costs for petty traffic violations are approximately $226.00.
Court costs are meant to reimburse the government for the resources expended in adjudicating your ticket. These costs are deposited into a variety of funds such as the Court Automation Fund, the Court Document Storage Fund, the Circuit Court Clerk Operation and Administrative Fund, the Circuit Court Clerk Electronic Citation fund and the county’s General Fund.
Can I Avoid Court Costs?
If your ticket doesn’t require a court appearance and you choose to pay the fine listed on the ticket, you will not have to pay court costs. However, most traffic offenses, including all moving violations, will be reported to the Illinois Secretary of State as a conviction and appear on your driving record. As a result, paying a ticket can have a lasting impact on your insurance rates, driving privileges and even your employment depending on your occupation.
If the ticket is dismissed in court or if you are found not guilty after trial, you will not be responsible for court costs. However, success at trial depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. As explained above, even a sentence of court supervision will not save you from paying these mandatory costs.
A traffic attorney can evaluate your options to determine the best course of action. Paying your ticket is rarely in your best interest.
Contact the attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. today for a free initial consultation.