It's perfectly natural for us to want to get out on the road and drive our street rods. That's why we have them. It doesn't matter what time of year it is-although we do prefer mild climes-we live for taking a drive with our favorite set of wheels.

For starters, always be careful when driving-for all the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, but 'tis the season to be just a bit more careful. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the I-95 corridor between the deep southeast and New England includes four of 10 U.S. states carrying the highest fines for speeding-those are North Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Maryland. First-time offenders will find themselves staring at a $500-or-more fine for a first offense. Judges in North Carolina and Georgia, not to mention 16 other states, have the discretion to add jail time.

That's pretty steep when you consider the national median for a first offender's top-end fine is $200, according to the NHTSA. Even states with lower standard fines sometimes have exceptions. Connecticut, for example, generally caps fines for first-time speeders at $50, though exceeding 70 mph on a "multiple-lane, limited-access highway" will usually bring double or triple that amount. In Massachusetts, anyone caught going more than 10 mph above the limit is socked for $10 for every additional mile over and above the state's $50 minimum. It doesn't end here; you should always be careful when enjoying the drive through rural areas and beach towns too-both have been known to raise revenue by targeting speeders.

Remember, just because you were pulled over for speeding doesn't automatically mean you will be ticketed. However, a little politeness (leave the attitude at home) and showing your engine to the officer if he wants to look at it will go a long way. Should you find yourself tempted to give the officer some grief, it will most likely cost you that set of nifty new valve covers, air cleaner, and chrome engine accessories for which you were saving. If this still doesn't convince you, remember, he has a gun! If this still doesn't do the trick, he can have a "hook" on the scene faster than you can change your oil, and the next thing you know, your pride and joy will be on the way to an impound yard. For those not familiar with these places, suffice it to say, they are incredibly expensive.

If I haven't convinced you to be just a bit lighter on the throttle, consider this: The following states provide all the incentive to drive with a light throttle, but in case you are still bold and stupid, check these fines out. Georgia has a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first speeding ticket, and a jail sentence of up to a year is also possible. Illinois has a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first speeding ticket, and the maximum speed on a four-lane highway is 65 mph, although only for vehicles built for 10 or fewer people. Illinois is also one of 25 states to use a point system to determine license suspensions and revocations. New Hampshire has a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first speeding ticket as well, and a state statute says drivers can get a ticket for not staying 10 mph below stated speed limits in school zones. Likewise, Nevada has a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first speeding ticket, and is also a point-system state-and too many points can bring a license suspension of six months to a year. There's a maximum six-month jail sentence on the books for speeders who have racked up the points, along with the fine. North Carolina also has a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first speeding ticket, and speeders can be jailed for up to 60 days. Oregon has a maximum fine of $600 for a first speeding ticket, while Indiana's maximum fine for a first speeding ticket is $500. Fines double for speeding in a school zone, and they're bumped an extra $25 if it's near a construction site. Kansas and Maryland have a $500 maximum fine for a first speeding ticket, while Indiana is the only state other than New Jersey and Nebraska to impose tolls along Interstate 80-a well-traveled highway for rodders crisscrossing the country.

I realize I'm just touching the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as there are plenty more states and lots of steep fines for speeders. Needless to say, an ounce of prevention is worth lots of saved dollars.