You’re cruising along chatting on your cell phone when you get busted. You get a ticket for using that cell phone, and the cop says it’s going to cost $20 plus fees. Cool, only $20 plus fees. How much could fees be? A lot, it turns out.
Christine Gentry, court operations manager for the Sonoma County court system, gave this breakdown:
–$20 is the base fine for using that cell phone illegally.
Then there are the fees, all approved by the Legislature:
–A 20 percent surcharge: Add $4.
–State and county penalty assessments at $17 for every $10 of the base fine ($10 for the state, $7 for the county). Add $34.
–Court facilities construction fund at $3 for every $10 of the base fine. Add $6.
–State court construction penalty at $2 for every $10. Add $4.
–State DNA program assessment at $1 for every $10. Add $2.
–Additional DNA assessment at $1 for every $10. Add $2.
–Night court fee at $1 per ticket. Add $1.
–Emergency medical services assessment at $2 for every $10. Add $4.
–Courthouse security fee at $30 per ticket. Add $30.
–Criminal conviction assessment of $30 for a felony or misdemeanor and $35 for an infraction, which the cell phone violation is. Add $35.
Total cost of your ticket: $142
Now, if you get ticketed a second time for cell phone use, the base fine is $50 and the total cost, after all of the fees and assessments, is $256.
There’s legislation, SB1475, pending in the state Senate that would double the cell phone base fines to $50 for the first violation and $100 for subsequent violations. That $100 would cost you $446 after all of the fees and such are added.
So how much of the ticket cost goes to the Sonoma County city where you got the ticket? Gentry said 85 percent of the base fine goes to the city and 15 percent goes to the county. (If you get ticketed by the CHP, 100 percent of the base fine goes to the county. The CHP gets nothing.) So for that $20 base fine, a city would get $17 and the county $3.
The county court system website’s traffic division lists the fines and penalties (click here) if you want more details.
The good news is that the court system takes credit cards and e-checks and you can pay online.