Cities with the Biggest Driving Fines

Henry Man

Jun 21, 2024

Dangerous driving can have long-lasting consequences. So which cities globally enforce the highest fines for illegal driving behaviours?

As experts in helping Australians compare car insurance policies, we studied which cities have the strictest driving fines globally – covering parking, speeding, running a red light, and driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Here’s what we found.

Top 10 cities with the highest driving fines

RankCity and countryParking overtime (up to one hour)Speeding (up to 10km/h)Running a red lightDrink driving (up to 0.05% BAC)Index Score
1Sacramento, United States$114.08$362.03$760.56$1,521.138.27
2Dublin, Ireland$326.35$261.08$130.54$8,158.707.79
3Oslo, Norway$96.98$415.62$1,343.84$801.187.40
Bern, Switzerland$167.28$200.74$418.21$1,003.71
4London, United Kingdom$248.14$190.88$190.88$4,771.967.11
5Sydney, Australia$215.00$137.00$514.00$603.006.92
6Amsterdam, Netherlands$195.81$146.86$489.52$489.526.63
7Toronto, Canada$501.11$27.84$361.92$1,113.596.44
8Prague, Czechia$163.64$65.82$360.00$1,636.376.34
9Warsaw, Poland$113.05$21.48$550.16$1,884.106.05
10Madrid, Spain$97.90$163.17$326.35$815.875.96

All prices listed above are in AUD. Refer to the methodology below for the full index ranking, sources and disclaimers.

Out of 30 major capital cities we studied from economically developed countries, eight European nations topped the strictest road fine list, alongside two North American cities and one in Australia.

Notably, countries generally impose a higher emphasis on drink driving, while some countries are less strict on speeding over the mandated limit.

1. Sacramento, United States – 8.27/10

Sacramento cityscape and bridge

Overall, Sacramento had the biggest driving fine score in the index of 30 cities.

The Californian capital fines motorists around AU$1,521.13 for driving under the influence and $760.56 for driving past a red traffic light.

However, the state of California charges a modest $362.03 for speeding up to 10km/h over the limit and $114.08 for parking overtime.

2. Dublin, Ireland – 7.79/10

Dublin cityscape and bridge

Dublin had the second-highest score for the strictest road fine cities globally.

It’s a substantial $8,158.70 penalty in Ireland’s capital if drivers are under the influence of alcohol and a $261.08 charge for those speeding up to 10km/h.

However, the European nation isn’t as strict on motorists running a red light, which incurs a $130.54 fine, and parking overtime which costs $326.35.

3. Oslo, Norway & Bern, Switzerland – 7.40/10

Split Oslo and Bern cityscape

Norway and Switzerland’s capital cities tied third in the biggest driving fine cities index.

Oslo was most stringent on running a red light signal with a fine costing up to $1,343.84 and drink driving at $801.18, while speeding over the limit incurs a $415.62 charge and parking overtime is set at $96.98.

In comparison, drivers in Bern are penalised more on drink driving and parking overtime with a $1,003.71 and $167.28 fine respectively. However, it has relatively lower fees for passing a red light and speeding at $418.21 and $200.74 respectively, resulting in the same index score overall.

Are Australia’s road fines too strict?

The two most populated Australian capital cities we studied – Sydney and Melbourne – ranked fifth and 11th respectively in the biggest road fine index.

Sydney (6.92/10) imposed the higher fines on drink driving up to 0.05% BAC at $603.00 and running a red light signal at $514.00.

Similarly, Melbourne (5.86/10) placed an emphasis on driving past a red light at $481.00 and drink driving at $475.00 – but infringement costs are less than Sydney overall.

Overall, major cities including London, Dublin, and Oslo all had more expensive fines than Sydney and Melbourne in the index.

New Zealand’s Wellington named the most lenient city for driving fines

Wellington cityscape

New Zealand’s capital had the cheapest road fines out of 30 locations studied and ranked at the bottom of the index (1.06/10).

Similar to most cities, Wellington was strictest on drink driving by imposing a $181.52 fine on infringing motorists. However, this is still a small fraction of Dublin’s $8,158.70 fine.

Drivers in Wellington are also subject to a $136.14 fine for passing a red light, $27.23 for speeding up to 10km/h over the limit, and $13.61 for parking overtime.

How could driving behaviour increase car insurance costs?

Compare the Market’s Executive General Manager of General Insurance, Adrian Taylor, said dangerous and illegal driving behaviours could have long-lasting consequences.

“Following local driving laws is important for the safety of all road users. Accidents risk long term consequences from injuries and financial impacts of a potentially costly repair bill,” Mr Taylor said.

“Thankfully, car insurance provides a level of cover and peace-of-mind.

“But, if you are found to be the at-fault driver of an accident, you will be required to pay the excess and your car insurer will then cover the associated costs to both parties. In some cases, insurers may refuse your claim.

“If you have a clean driving history, insurers may offer a lower premium compared to someone who they identify as a riskier driver – which means saving money amid cost-of-living pressures that could last for several years.”

Always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) to check for the inclusions, limits and restrictions before purchasing.

Methodology & Sources

View the full index ranking and sources here.

Using publicly available data, we studied the road fine costs of 30 major capital cities globally.

Data is accurate as of 9 May, 2024. Monetary currency conversions to the Australian Dollar (AUD) conducted on 3 May, 2024 and rounded to the nearest two decimal places.

The overall index score (with a higher number representing a stricter road fine) was the average of four factors:

  • Parking – a vehicle remains in a parking space over the regulated time by up to one hour (or minimum fine where data is unavailable)
  • Speeding – a vehicle exceeds the regulated speed limit by up to 10km/h (using the higher fine out of speeding in a built-up area or highway or minimum fine where data is unavailable)
  • Running a red light – driving past a red traffic light signal
  • Drink driving – a driver who operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, up to 0.05% blood alcohol level (BAC) (or minimum fine where data is unavailable)

This story serves as a guide for driving fines. Exact fines may vary on a case-by-case basis as determined by authorities.

Countries where fines are based on income – such as Finland, Denmark, and Sweden – were excluded in this study to ensure a fair comparison.