Do I Lose the Opportunity to go to Traffic School if I Challenge My Traffic Ticket?

It is possible to challenge your traffic ticket in Orange County and preserve your right to traffic school but you must be careful about the way it is done. If you are otherwise eligible for traffic school, it is an automatic right before you enter a plea. However, traffic school is never available in certain situations: If you are a commercial driver driving a commercial vehicle, if it is a two point offense like driving over 100 mph or driving on a suspended license, or certain specific violations (most common are VC 2815 failure to obey a crossing guard or VC 2818 traversing a cone/flare pattern).

After you enter a not guilty plea at the arraignment, whether to grant traffic school is at the discretion of the judge. However, the vast majority of judges in Orange County will still offer traffic school on the day of trial. They are not required to do so, but most will as a way to speed up the process of getting through a trial calendar. Most judges will offer traffic school automatically up until your trial begins. That means once the officer stands up and begins his or her testimony, traffic school may no longer be an option.

By law, a judge cannot categorically deny you traffic school simply because you exercised your right to trial. However, the judge does not need to state his or her reason for denying traffic school, so effectively they can deny it for exactly that reason. Most judges will allow traffic school after trial on a case by case basis. If the judge believes that you are being untruthful, or that your actions were especially dangerous, or you in some way were rude or inappropriate to the officer, they will likely deny your request for traffic school after trial. If the judge believes you are sincere, or that you would benefit from attending, they may allow traffic school after trial.

It is almost always a good idea to go to traffic school if the alternative is to receive a point on your record. If you are convicted of a moving violation and do not attend, you will receive one point on your driving record. The point will remain on your record for three years from the date of the violation, unless your conviction is more than three months later than the date of the violation, and in that case the three years will run from the date of the conviction.