An Examination of the Variation of Speeding Fines Across States

An Examination of the Variation of
Speeding Fines Across States
Zachary Meinen – UW Eau Claire
Majors: Political Science and
Variation of Penalties for Speeding
Maximum first time penalties
Fine range $20 (ND) up to $1000 (IL, VT, NH, NV)
 Wisconsin - $300
$294 Nationwide average
 Limits set state by state
(12 States)
Exists in most US
Sets a maximum
speed which cannot
be surpassed
Only defense is
against police
conduct or
Latin – at first face
Sets a maximum speed
Maximum speed limit
can be exceeded
Driver can challenge
tickets at by proving the
conditions allowed speed
Problems with speed limits
Speed limit is the
maximum safe speed
Speed limit is based off
of perfect driving
Because conditions are
always less than perfect
speed limits should never
be exceeded
Speed limit is the
maximum safe speed
Speed limit is based
off of average road
Conditions are often
better than average so
speed limits are often
Prima Facie is a
misunderstood concept
Previous Research and Relevant Literature
US Department of Transportation – report “Penalties
for Traffic Offenses” and “Traffic Speed Limit in the
Differences in law specification (absolute or prima
facie) do not have an effect on the penalties associated.
Differences among maximum speed limits do not
have an effect on the penalties associated.
Furthermore, limits are set based on subjective political
bias - NOT empirical evidence
 Highest speed limits in states range 60-80mph
Evaluation of Recent Data to Review US DOT Findings
Correlation between maximum speeding ticket price
(MAXT) and type of speeding law was at a very
insignificant level - .07
Correlation between MAXT and maximum speed allowed
in each state insignificant as well - .09
Conclusion – supports findings by the US DOT
Redirection of Research
Penalties may be arbitrary in concern to
the law associated with them
But research in this project determines
that the difference in penalties can be
statistically explained through regression
analysis of other economic and social
 Initially, research looked at general
economic variables – income,
unemployment, cost of living, HWY spending
-variables did not explain the variances
Different political variables were researched to
determine the apparent subjective nature of
speeding laws.
 Court room variables
 Historical highway safety statistics
 Taxing policy
 Regional Variable
Proposed Equation
MAXT = β1 + β2 (JUD) + β3 (SAFE) + β4 (REG) + β5 (TAX) + е
JUD – Judicial variable which is a combination of money paid to
judges and total money contributed
SAFE – Level of safety on roads (Average deaths per 1000
REG – Region of the country
TAX – Variable which was the level of taxation on cigarettes and
gas and liquor (sin taxes)
Two positive variables  JUD and REG
were most significant
TAX variable was only significant
when considering Cigarette Taxes alone.
SAFE  Insignificant
The court system is a good indication of how a state will penalize for
a speeding ticket - Mainly because research shows that 70-100% of
speeding fines go directly towards the judge’s salary and court room
Regional fine variation is a bit more obvious because it could be
expected that states impose fines relative to their neighbors.
With the safety variable it is not clear whether speeding fines are
imposed as proactive or reactive measures to fatal crashes or even
rely on these numbers at all
The public safety argument though can be made… by a stretch… if
one considers more deeply the significant correlation between
cigarette taxing and speeding fine variation