SHOULD YOU TAKE TRAFFIC SCHOOL?
For our own clients we generally recommend trying to get the case dismissed before asking for traffic school. Once you become a client we can give you legal advice to help you decide whether or not to take traffic violator school, but the information below should help you understand the main issues to consider. Get Legal Advice
The bad thing about traffic violator school is that it is now reported as a criminal conviction and it does appear on your California DMV driving record. Additionally, it is an eight-hour course which is time that could certainly be used more enjoyably.
However, the good thing about traffic violator school is that it can usually be taken online or via home-study course, and if completed properly it can keep a point from accruing against your driving record as long as the DMV accepts the traffic school certificate (more than a few points in a year and the DMV will suspend your driver's license).
Thus, unless our client is facing a DMV license suspension for too many points and cannot afford to risk even a single new point appearing on their record, we often recommend that our clients who are eligible for traffic school still contest their case first and save a traffic school request only as a last resort.
This is because we've actually seen auto insurance companies increase people's insurance premiums after a single traffic school conviction even though these types of traffic convictions are supposed to remain confidential and hidden from the insurance companies.
Unless our clients are certain that their auto insurance company will not increase their premiums if they happen to learn about the traffic school conviction then contesting a case is often the best approach because it can allow for a chance of dismissal or acquittal while still allowing the opportunity to request traffic school at a later date, if necessary. If you aren't sure what to do in your case then we can provide you with legal advice once you become a client, which you can do today. Get Legal Advice
IMPORTANT NOTE: It's good to know that when contacting an insurance company about the potential impact on one's premiums from receiving a traffic ticket, one should speak generally and/or hypothetically to try and avoid being penalized prematurely. One generally should not notify their insurance company about pending traffic tickets unless this is required by one's auto insurance policy for some reason.
This is because premature ticket reporting can cause one to be penalized with higher premiums even before ever being convicted, and this can be true even if one's case is later dismissed. Once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, the insurance company can raise premiums in line with the terms of the insurance policy.
The best defense is usually to try and get one's case dismissed or reduced before the auto insurance company runs its periodic DMV search for new traffic convictions. However, there is always a risk when contesting a case that the traffic court could deny traffic school if you are found guilty after trial, even if you were otherwise eligible for traffic school.
That said, it is unlawful for a court to penalize someone for exercising their right to a trial by denying them traffic violator school if they could otherwise benefit from attending.
Remember that although a traffic court may deny traffic violator school if someone isn't technically eligible, the traffic judge or commissioner always has discretion to allow traffic school before or after a traffic trial. However, a court order allowing traffic school is only the preliminary hurdle. It is really the DMV that matters most.
A traffic court judge or traffic commissioner can grant traffic school - even if you are not technically eligible - so the DMV makes the final determination as to whether or not you are allowed to receive credit for taking the traffic school such that the point will remains off your driving record.
In other words, a judge may grant traffic school but the DMV will not prevent the point from accruing against you unless the DMV finds you eligible for traffic school and honors the court's electronic traffic school abstract (i.e., notice).
So before contesting your case it is good to first determine if you are even eligible for traffic school according to DMV criteria and then decide what to do after getting legal advice from our professional traffic ticket defense attorney. Get Legal Advice
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR TRAFFIC SCHOOL?
Determining whether or not you are eligible for traffic school is a little tricky, but we can help you determine your traffic school eligibility once you become a client. Meanwhile, the following information describes the general framework for traffic violator school eligibility.
The California Vehicle Code and the California Rules of Court set out the basic rules for traffic school eligibility. Generally, court clerks are only authorized to grant traffic school requests if the following criteria is met. A traffic judge or commissioner has a bit more discretion, but the DMV has the final say as to whether traffic school will be accepted.
- Driver's may not have attended traffic violator school for a prior ticket issued within the last 18-months. (This period is determined from the date of the first alleged violation relating to the first incidence of traffic school to the date of most recent alleged violation for which traffic violator school is being considered, and not from the date when the driver last attended traffic school.)
- The driver must possess a valid California driver's license (out of state driver's can be allowed to take traffic school in California or online, but their home state - the state giving them their driver's license - will decide whether or not they will honor the traffic school under their own statutory scheme or vehicle code).
- The driver must not have previously failed to appear (unless that charge has been finally adjudicated and any related fine or civil assessment penalty has already been paid.)
- The violation(s) alleged must be eligible for a traffic school conviction. For instance, if speeding is alleged, the allegation cannot be for more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit. Additionally, any moving violation that carries a point count of more than one point is not eligible for traffic violator school.
- Non-moving violations are not eligible for traffic school such as seat belt violations, cell phone violations, texting violations, mechanical or equipment violations, registration & administrative violations, and insurance violations.
- The driver must not have been charged with anything relating to alcohol or drugs.
- The driver must not have been cited for a violation under section 22406.5 of the Vehicle Code (relating to tank vehicles)
- Commercial drivers (CDL) are not eligible for traffic school unless they were driving their personal vehicle at the time of the incident (and their ticket complies with all of the above). Also, this type of traffic school does not keep the case confidential; it only prevents the points from accruing against the CDL holder's license.
Since insurance premiums can increase by up to 30% (or more) over time from a single traffic conviction, deciding on whether or not to attend traffic school is an important consideration and you should make it with the help of an experienced traffic ticket defense lawyer.
If you would like to know whether or not you are eligible for traffic violator school or whether you should or shouldn't take traffic school we can provide you with legal advice and help you decide what to do when you become a client. Get Legal Advice