Q Maybe my ability to understand ticket fines is limited. But just why, exactly, does a $20 fine for a cellphone ticket cost $159 when fees are added? Why isn't the fine just $159 and be done with it? Why is it necessary for all the subterfuge in coming up with the real fine? I like being able to understand the world. I am likely a dreamer though.

Bruce Korb

Santa Cruz

A You are. Many drivers are frustrated that the base fine listed is only a fraction of the total amount of a ticket. That's why when a driver is handed a ticket and asks an officer how much the fine will be, the cop will often say they don't know.

Here's a partial breakdown on how a $20 cellphone ticket turns into around $160, according to the DMV:

  • State penalty assessment: $20.

  • County penalty assessment: $14.

  • DNA penalty assessment: $8.

  • Court penalty assessment: $10.

  • Surcharge: $4.

  • EMS penalty assessment: $4.

  • Other fees: $80.

    Total: Around $160.

    For a description of penalties and fees, go to www.courts.ca.gov/documents/SP11-17.pdf.

    Q A good portion of Old Soquel San Jose Road through the Santa Cruz Mountains was recently repaved and re-striped. It rides and looks great now.

    However, the only portion of the road where passing was allowed, on the downward hill near Hester Creek Road about five miles from Summit Road has been re-striped without reinstating the passing option. That's 11 miles with no ability to pass a slower moving vehicle. Was this an oversight during re-striping? Can it be corrected?

    Dave Anderson

    Aptos

    A No oversight. Santa Cruz County has decided not to allow passing here due to the geometry of the road (steep terrain), the condition during winter storms, frequent conflicts between motorists and cyclists, etc. said Jack-the County-Engineer:

    "We understand the frustration of having to drive a long distance without being able to pass vehicles traveling at a lower speed. However, it is important to consider that on Soquel San Jose Road there have been a number of traffic collisions that involved motorists passing and a recent accident included a fatality. With this in mind we had to re-evaluate the road for meeting the technical requirements for a passing zone and determined that it did not. We ask that all motorists drive safely and cautiously and be considerate of other road users."

    Q Your article last week on California's "Move Over, Slow Down" law reminded me of a question I've meant to ask. The law says slow down or move over for construction or emergency vehicles. But I've never heard how much of a slowdown is considered appropriate.

    David Morris

    Cupertino

    A Safety officials don't want to list a set speed to meet the "Move Over, Slow Down" law saying a prudent speed can depend on the amount of traffic, etc. Just ease off the pedal to what you feel is safe and shift to the left if you can.

    Q A while ago there was a project to enable people to send emergency text messages to the 911 service. Do you know if it is active now? I would love to sent a text message instead of talking to the CHP or emergency services.

    Jai Srinivasan

    A No, the CHP says at this time it does not have the ability to accept emergency texts.

    Q Like others, I am also upset that there is only one right-turn lane at the Highway 101 south offramp to Tully Road. Backups are bad, and yet there are three left-turn lanes at that ramp. Makes no sense to me.

    Dave Sanchez

    San Jose

    A This configuration will not change. The single right-turn lane enables Caltrans to give a green light to the southbound right-turn without stopping traffic going east on Tully. If the state converted one of the offramp lanes to a left/right assignment, this would not be possible and could cause gridlock on Tully in both directions.

    Look for Gary at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.