California Traffic School Explained

traffic school

What is Traffic School?

If you possess a driver’s license, chances are that you have been witness to an unfortunate driver being issued a traffic ticket. If you are anything like the 5 to 6 million drivers in California who get ticketed for a 1–point violation every year, chances are that unfortunate driver has been you. 1

Whether it is for speeding (22350 VC), running a red light (21450 VC), failing to stop at a stop sign (22450(a)), or another vehicle-related instance, there are countless ways to receive a traffic violation but only a few ways to handle them. One way, is traffic school.

The goal of traffic school is to serve as a review course that instructs drivers on current traffic laws, how to drive safely and defensively, the effects of alcohol and drugs on driving, and other useful information to protect you and those around you while you are driving.

Traffic school can be taken in a classroom or online. Both settings typically take around six hours to complete. You will be required to submit your certificate to the appropriate California traffic court.  2

What Happens When You Receive a Traffic Ticket?

When you receive a traffic ticket from a police officer, two things typically occur. You are given the option to pay, or you can dispute your citation.  After you have received your ticket you have three options:

  1. Plead not guilty, ask for a trial and hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney to fight your ticket. You can ask for:
    • A court trial by a judicial officer or
    • A trial by mail (also called a “trial by written declaration”) 3
  2. Plead guilty and pay the traffic fine;
    • Your violation will appear as a conviction on your DMV record and you will receive one or two point(s) on your driving record. This may result in your car insurance company raising the price of insurance, or they may cancel your policy all together. In addition, you may lose your license if you accrue too many points on your record over a one to three year period. Points generally stay on your record for 3 to 7 years. 4
  3. Request to attend traffic school (if you are eligible).
    • If your request to attend traffic school is granted by the judge, you will be ordered to pay for:
      • The fine imposed for the infraction
      • A court administrative fee (currently between 53 and 60 dollars)
      • A fee for attending traffic school
    • In general, if you are eligible for traffic school and complete the course within 90 days of your citation date, you should not receive any points on your driving record. 5

What are the Requirements to Attend Traffic School?

If you receive a traffic citation, you may typically request traffic school at the court clerk office. In some counties, however, you may have to attend an arraignment to request traffic school.

Typically, you will be eligible to attend traffic school if:

  • You have a valid driver’s license.
  • You received a ticket for a minor moving violation that did not involve drugs or alcohol;
  • Your offense was committed in a noncommercial vehicle.
  • Your recorded speed did not exceed the limit by more than 25 miles per hour;
  • You did not fail to appear for any court date mentioned on the ticket.
  • You have not attended traffic school in the past 18 months from your last conviction date. 6

What are the Advantages to Attending Traffic School?

A major advantage of traffic school is that, if you successfully complete the course, your driving record will not be affected, and your insurance company will not discover you received the citation and thus they will not increase your auto insurance premiums.

How Does the DMV Point System Work?

dmv1
California DMV

In California, most driving violations that do not involve alcohol or drugs, and do not result in bodily harm will cause one point to be added to your driving record.  These points will remain on your record for three years from the date of the violation. 7

Additionally, if you are found to be the “at fault” party of a vehicular accident, one point will normally be added to your record.

If you are convicted of a more serious driving violation in California such as hit and run, driving under the influence and reckless driving, you will receive 2 points on your driving record.  These points will remain on your record for seven years from the violation date.

If you receive too many points in a certain period of time, the DMV will consider you a negligent operator and you could have your driver’s license suspended or revoked.

You will be considered a negligent operator if your driving record shows any of the following point count totals:

  • 4 points in 12 months, or
  • 6 points in 24 months, or
  • 8 points in 36 months 8

Traffic School FAQs

How often can I attend Traffic School?

According to California Vehicle Code Section 1808.7, you may attend traffic school once every 18 months from the date of your conviction. 9

Will I still get points on my record if I attend traffic school?

No. If you successfully complete traffic school within 90 days of your citation, you will not receive a point on your driving record.

If I attend traffic school, will my fine for the citation be dropped?

No, in most courts you are required to pay the cost as if you have plead guilty to the traffic citation. In addition, you must pay an administrative fee to the court as well as a smaller fee to attend traffic school.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

Partners 2015
Traffic Attorneys of Wallin & Klarich

At Wallin & Klarich, we understand how difficult it can be to understand the difficult process required when dealing with a traffic ticket. Our skilled attorneys have successfully helped those facing traffic ticket violations for over 40 years. Our attorneys can help you understand this process and defend you aggressively and get you the best result possible in your case.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorney can help you no matter where you work or live.

Call Wallin & Klarich today at 877-466-5245. We will be there when you call.


1. http://www.ticketbust.com/traffic-fines/number-traffic-tickets.html

2. http://www.dmv.org/ca-california/traffic-schools.php

3. http://www.courts.ca.gov/8452.htm

4. Id.

5. http://www.courts.ca.gov/9410.htm

6. http://www.courts.ca.gov/9410.htm

7. Id.

8. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/dl/dl_info

9. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/vctop/vc/d2/c1/a3/1808.7

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