A couple of years ago, my wife and I embarked on a drive from Los Angeles to Yosemite. We wanted to experience nature. But what I got instead were some life long insights into the true costs of breaking the rules of the road.

I had been driving 5 hours and everything was going beautifully. It was a sunny day, we were within 20 miles of our destination and the experience we had discussed and dreamed about for months. That changed instantly when out of nowhere those dreaded red and blue lights flashed repeatedly in my rear view mirror.

I was on an undulating road where the speed limits change frequently. Unfortunately, my driving speed did not.

I mentally prepared myself to receive a ticket. I recognized I was in the wrong. I was polite to the officer. The ticket was issued. The only thing I did not know was how much the ticket would cost. We went on our way. I tried not to think too much about it, until one day, about two weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from the issuing county office. Question answered. Fine $221. Wow! It seemed like a lot. I gathered myself from the shock and quickly realized I had three choices:

One, pay the ticket. Two, contest the ticket. Or, three, take a driving course which would reduce the cost of the ticket.

I considered the options. If I paid the ticket, it would be over. If I contested the ticket, it goes against everything I stand for and believe in. I would also have to become an “armchair lawyer.” The ticket was my fault. I had been speeding. No one was holding my foot to the pedal. Why not just take responsibility for my action. Or lastly, I could take the driving course. However, there was a catch. I would have to take the course in the county where the ticket was issued. That was 5 hours away, 10 hours both ways, plus the time and fee to take the driving course.

I chose to pay the ticket. $221. Finished. Done. Move on. Or, so I thought. It turned out it wasn’t over. The cost of the speeding fine wasn’t my only expense. More mail. This time I received a letter from my car insurer. My auto insurance had gone up. It increased an additional $170 per year. The increase was not for one year, but 3 years. That is $510. Furthermore, I was notified my good driver discount was being cancelled. When all was said and done the true cost of that 15 mph speed violation and breaking the rules of the road was close to $1,000, or just about 5 times more than the $221 cost of the ticket.


Coming Next: The True Cost of Breaking the Rules of the Road, Part 2