Traffic tickets are big business for California. A 2006 report by the California Research Bureau estimated traffic citations bring in some 500 million dollars a year for the state. That figure isn't surprising to many drivers in LA County.
Getting pulled over and ticketed is getting more expensive. In the last 2 decades traffic citation fees have skyrocketed. Running a red light will now cost you an average of 500 dollars. That's a huge increase from the $340 it cost 10 years ago, and the $100 dollars it cost 20 years ago. Surprisingly, the base fine for most violations hasn't changed much.
The reason for the huge fine increase over the years? Penalty assessments imposed by the legislature, not the courts. There are state and county penalty assessments, money going toward emergency medical services and a DNA identification fund among others. But the courthouses themselves actually get a very small piece of the traffic revenue brought in by citations.
Due to the rising expense, more people are contesting their tickets, numbers nearly doubling in the last 10 years. This is clogging up courts which are left struggling to accommodate so many people. With state budget cuts, lay offs and employees being furloughed, courts are backed up. In LA County there's a wait of up to 9 months to see a judge.