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Who's Eligible for a Traffic Course?

A DMV approved traffic course is a good deal if you can get it and you use it wisely. Although many of these traffic schools target elderly and student drivers with discounted prices, this is a good course for any driver and many insurance companies give an additional discount to those who complete the course.

Many believe erroneously that you can go to a traffic course instead of paying a fine and getting Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points assessed on your driving record. The truth is if you are convicted of a moving violation, you may use a traffic school completion to mask or hide the conviction from your insurance company so your rates won’t go up if you have not used a course to mask a ticket in the last 18 months. That timeframe is based on the completion date, not the conviction or ticket date. However, what many drivers don’t realize is according to Proposition 103, there are three provisions that qualify a CA driver for a 20% good driver discount:

  1. Must be a licensed driver for the last three years. (Experience based, no age discrimination)
  2. Must have one NOTS point or less on their license at the time of the discount.
  3. Must not have had a major violation in the last 10 years.

Therefore, you gain nothing by taking a traffic school for your first minor infraction of one point. You just contributed to the state and county’s traffic fund and the traffic course provider’s income. Oh, and you might just learn some driving tips you hadn’t thought about for years.

How It Works

There are two varieties of traffic courses, classroom and online both of which could be state approved, check the list here. Make sure any website you use to find an approved course is affiliated with the state of California or you could be duped, there are a lot of websites out there that use DMV in their domain name that has nothing to do with the DMV, they’re actually for profit. Look for CA.GOV.

When you receive the court reminder, which is mandatory that the court send you a reminder, as of 1 May 2017, although not receiving one is still not an excuse for failing to appear in court, traffic court eligibility will be noted on the reminder. It’s on every ticket reminder that I have seen, even “fix-it” or non-moving violation tickets, which a traffic school is not required for fix-it tickets. You are not eligible to use traffic school to mask a ticket under the following circumstances or provisions:

  • Speeding ticket up to 25 mph over the limit, a judge may grant eligibility for 26 mph or more over the limit unless 100+
  • Speeders 100+ mph are NOT eligible
  • If you have a mandatory court appearance you are NOT eligible
  • Misdemeanors and felony convictions are NOT eligible
  • If you were convicted of a traffic violation in a commercial vehicle, you are NOT eligible
  • Non-moving violation, NOT eligible
  • Alcohol-related charges, NOT eligible

You can also check the DMV website for eligibility requirements, here.

A person can find an approved traffic course through the courts and they can register on the internet. They will then be granted access to this course. The student must read through chapters about the rules of the road. Once they are done with the chapter they need to pass a quiz but don’t worry, it’s an open book quiz, so very few fail. Once a person has passed the chapter quizzes they will need to take a final test at the end. When the driver passes the exam a certificate of completion is sent to the DMV. Many people can complete the course in a FEW hours. There is 24-hour access so a person can still go to work and get their required coursework completed.

How Much is a Traffic Course or Traffic School in Fresno County?

The prices vary greatly from one school to the next, so you can shop around to find the best price, but it’s usually around $20 for the online course and more for the classroom. The county will add a fee to your ticket price if you decide to attend a traffic school. Upon completion, DMV approved courses will send the certificate of completion to the DMV, but you should maintain a copy so that if it is lost or not placed in your driving record.

There is a court deadline to take the traffic course, so be sure to complete it on time. And, most courses charge an additional $20-25 fee to send a completion certificate FedEx overnight.

Hire a Local Fresno County Traffic Ticket Defender

Mark Bigger and Paul Harman make up the legal team of Bigger & Harman, APC, they are ticket defenders and represent clients in Central Valley traffic courts in Tulare, Kern, Kings, Mono, Inyo, and Fresno, plus some counties in Southern California, such as San Luis Obispo, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties in Southern California (SoCal) courts. Those traffic courts are in Porterville, Lamont, Hanford, Shafter, Bishop, Bridgeport, San Luis Obispo, Barstow, Bakersfield, and many other major cities in Central and Southern California.

Call Bigger & Harman, 661-349-9300, or email: attorney@markbigger.com when you need legal advice or counsel or would like a traffic ticket attorney to represent you in court. For a completely confidential and convenient appointment, you can use the website contact form.

Read the write-up on Nolo.com or check their reviews on Yelp to discover what family, friends, and neighbors have said about Bigger & Harman, a Central Valley traffic ticket legal team.

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