How Does California Traffic School Work?

Most California drivers who receive a traffic ticket have several options;

  • Admit guilt, accept the points, and possible increased insurance rates;
  • Go to court and try to fight the charges and hope that you are persuasive enough and the judge is in a good mood;
  • Hire a lawyer to represent you in court and take the risk that you may still be found guilty and have to pay the fines in addition to your attorney’s fees or,
  • Attend a traffic school and have the case dismissed (along with no points on your record and no increased insurance rates)

For most drivers, attending traffic school, if they are eligible, is the best choice. 

Who Can Attend Traffic School?

The court can order anyone to attend traffic school but, in order to have the case dismissed:

  • The driver must not hold a class A, B or commercial class C license
  • The traffic offense must not have been committed while driving a commercial vehicle
  • The offense must not have been a serious traffic offense such as a DUI, reckless driving, or leaving the scene of a collision.
  • You must not have attended another traffic school that resulted in dismissal of a traffic offense within the last18 months

How to Request a Traffic School

Basically, if you want to attend a traffic school you have to request that the court “order” you to attend traffic school. This request must be made to the traffic court in the county where you received the ticket. You will still have to pay the fines for the offense and any additional fees that the court may impose on you. You will also have to pay for the traffic school. These costs are non-refundable.

Once you have been “ordered” to attend traffic school by the CA Clerk of Court, you will have a certain amount of time (depending on the county) to attend and show proof of successful completion of the course to the court. After the court receives proof of attendance, the judge can then dismiss the case.

If you do not provide proof of attendance within the required amount of time, you will be in violation of a court order; you will be charged with a misdemeanor and the traffic offense will be entered on your driving record.

Choosing a Traffic School – What type of school is best for me?

After paying the fines and fees to the court, you will be given a list of approved traffic schools within the county. Remember, you must attend a court approved traffic school in the county where you received the traffic ticket.

  • Online – Fortunately, most counties offer the option of completing California traffic school online. By taking the course online:
    • You don’t have to travel back to the county where you received the ticket to attend class
    • You have the option of completing the course on your schedule.
    • You can stop the course and pick up where you left off at a later time
    • You don’t have to be especially “computer savvy” to successfully complete the course
  • Classroom – For some, attending a classroom course is the best option. If you live in the county where you received your ticket there is probably a classroom course nearby. For those who learn best by hearing instead of seeing, classroom courses offer several options:
    • You can complete the course in one sitting
    • You can ask questions of the instructor to clarify issues you might not fully understand
    • You can learn from the experiences of others in the class
    • The instructor can update you on new traffic laws that you may be unaware of

Course Completion Certificate

Once you have completed the course and received your completion certificate, you have the responsibility of providing it to the court within the required time limit. The traffic school will not send it for you. You may either hand carry it to the courthouse or you can mail it in. If you mail it, make sure to mail it via “registered mail – return receipt”.  That way you will receive a receipt in the mail showing when it arrived at the court and the signature of the court official who received it. Contact the court in the county where you received the ticket if you have any questions.

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