Traffic school can be a viable alternative to paying increased insurance
premium after being ticketed for violating one of California Vehicle Codes
(CVC). However, there are many instances when it is not allowed depending
on the driver’s status and the severity of the traffic violation.
So, what do you do? In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of
the course and where to turn when it is not an option.
A Short Overview of California (CA) Traffic School
First, to get credit for attending a traffic school or defensive driving
course with the courts or your insurance company, it must be state-certified.
Unless it is specifically stated on your ticket that you must attend in
person, you may choose to attend an online course. Online courses are
fairly inexpensive and very convenient. The typical online course starts
at $9.99 and could cost $69.99 or more, so shop around to get the best
bargain for your money. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides
a list of state-certified schools on their website
Second, state-certified school are not only for ticketed drivers but offer
new drivers and elderly drivers (age 55 and above) a chance to get a discount
from their insurance company. Well actually, anyone can get the discount,
but insurance companies and traffic school advertisers target these two
Finally, when you get a ticket for a moving violation infraction, you can
get the penalties of the ticket erased by attending traffic school. That
means no points on your license, a reduced fine (possibly just administrative
fees), and no increase in your insurance premiums. The big takeaway from
this (other than saving part of the nearly $500 fine) is no rise in insurance
premiums. A conviction on a speeding ticket of 1-15 mph raises the average
Californian's insurance rate 15% for a minimum of three years.
The Negligent Operators Treatment System (NOTS)
CA uses a system of points to track a driver's record of moving violations.
Simple "fix-it" tickets are not given points. A fix-it ticket
is for things like illegal parking or broken taillights. However, when
you run a red light, make an illegal U-turn, or get ticketed for 1-15
mph over the limit you are assessed 1 point against your license. More
serious violations, such as misdemeanors and felonies are given two points.
These two-point violations include DUI, reckless driving, or speeding
over 100 mph and in many cases, the state will not allow the violator
to attend school due to the severity of their offense.
Some Instances When Traffic School Is not Allowed
In most cases, the courts will not allow a driver to attend traffic school
to diminish the severity of a two point violation and commercial motor
vehicle (CMV) drivers who get ticketed while driving a CMV will not be
able to attend a defensive driving course. Additionally, if you have attended
for a ticket within the last 18 months, you will not be eligible for its benefits.
What Are Some Alternatives?
Of course, the obvious answer here is to hire a traffic defense attorney.
The decision to consult a traffic defender for a violation that is not
eligible for relief under this system is mostly because of the severity
of the crime. Yes, that's right, a crime. What else would you call
reckless driving, DUI, driving over 100 mph, etcetera? Whether you knowingly
broke the law or not, you committed a crime.
The course of action under California law that makes the most sense here
is to start with a "Trial by Written Declaration." Many believe
they can fight a traffic ticket by just telling the judge what happened.
But, that is not entirely true. The judge does not want to hear, "I
knew the speed limit was 70 mph but everyone was doing 80 mph and I was
the only one pulled over." This is an admission of guilt. The judge
will merely respond, "Guilty, next!" The judge wants to hear
your defense for breaking the law; however, to rule in your favor, the
judge wants to hear a plausible
legal defense for your violation of California law.
What's outstanding about a written declaration trial is that it is
like getting a free strike. Sure, you still want to hire a hitting instructor
so you have a much better chance of connecting on the first swing, but
if the judge who reviews your declaration decide you are guilty, you still
have another swing.
The next swing is called a Trial de Novo. CVC 40902d states,
“If the defendant is dissatisfied with a decision of the court in
a proceeding pursuant to this section, the defendant shall be granted
a trial de novo.” Trial de Novo in Latin means, a new trial. However, keep in mind that
everything is wiped out from the first trial by declaration and it can
only be used when after a trial by written declaration. Therefore, if
you liked that the judge allowed you to attend a defensive driving course
in the summation of the declaration, the judge in the in-person or Trial
de Novo may or may not allow it, everything is new.
When you have been ticketed for a violation of the CVC and you are not
able to attend traffic school, your best bet is to consult with Bigger
& Harman. In Kern, Kings, Riverside, SLO, Inyo, LA or other SoCal
counties, you can rely on the expert advice of one of the best traffic
ticket defense teams in the state of California.
Contact the law office of Bigger & Harman for an initial consultation
that is always confidential. If you want legal advice regarding a Trial
by Written Declaration, simply email a scanned copy of your ticket with
an explanation of what happened to
firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set you up an appointment. Or call 661-349-9300. En español,
llame al 661-349-9755.