If you are charged with a traffic offense, if you are eligible you are given the opportunity to attend traffic school. If you cannot get the ticket dismissed entirely or amended to a non-moving offense, traffic school can be a good option. It will usually add about $70-$100 more to the total cost you will pay, in the form of court fees and the actual cost of the school. Traffic school is now available online in every state in California. DMV approved classes can be found here:
Successfully completing the eight hour traffic school will completely mask the ticket from your record. This means you do not receive a “point” from the DMV and your insurance company will never know you received a moving violation, meaning there will be no effect on your insurance.
Points are added to your record by the DMV to determine negligent drivers. One point is generally accumulated for most moving violations, such as speeding or running a stop light, or for at-fault accidents. Two points are assigned for more serious violations, such as DUI or hit and run. A driver may have his or her license suspended if they receive four points in one year, six points in two years, or eight points in three years. A point stays on a person’s record for three years from the date of the violation. A single point may or may not affect your insurance, depending on your carrier. Two points almost assuredly will.
You may only attend the eight hour traffic school once every 18 months. Formerly, if you received a second traffic ticket in that 18 month period, some courts would allow you to take the second offender traffic school. However, the option to attend second offender traffic school was recently moved by the DMV.
If you hold a commercial driver’s license and were driving a commercial vehicle, you will not be eligible for traffic school. If you hold a commercial driver’s license but were driving your personal vehicle, you may be eligible for traffic school but the school does not remove the point for insurance purposes.
If you are eligible for traffic school, usually you must request it prior to the start of your trial. Most judges will not offer traffic school after trial, although by law they cannot automatically deny you simply because you elected to exercise your right to trial.
Traffic court is very informal and varies a great deal from one court to the next. Whether to request traffic school, or even whether to plead guilty, will vary greatly depending on each individual’s situation, including his or her previous record, the nature of the offense, and the tendencies of the presiding judge.