If you live in California, traffic school is an important way to take points off your driving record and keep your insurance rates down. Some people who have not had a moving violation may also take traffic school to get a discount on their car insurance.
“Many insurance companies offer discounts on insurance for completing traffic school — even if you’re not facing a traffic violation,” added Chris Abrams, founder of Abrams Insurance Solutions in San Diego. “You can see up to a 20% discount on your car insurance premiums after completing safe driver training. While these classes will cost you around $20–$30, it’s a small price to pay for insurance discounts.”
But the majority of people who go to traffic school do so to remove points from their driving record as a result of a traffic ticket. If you’re recently received a speeding ticket or another traffic violation, here’s what you need to know.
California Traffic School Cost
Costs for California traffic school classes typically range between $20 and $45. They can be taken in person or online. Traffic school in California is an eight-hour course, broken down into single-subject units, and it removes one point from your driving record. That's typically the number of points assigned to a moving violation like speeding. It’s a good idea to choose a school that offers electronic court filing services as a part of the package to spare you the hassle of going to court yourself.
Other Fees Associated with Getting a Ticket Dismissed
Paying for traffic school doesn’t get you out of other fees associated with a moving violation. In California, there is also a state-mandated administrative fee, and many courts have their own bail fees or additional penalties and surcharges that might apply. You can call the court’s phone number on the ticket itself to ask about what other fees you’re responsible for.
Traffic School Eligibility
Generally, traffic school is available to anyone who possesses a valid California driver’s license and receives a ticket while driving a non-commercial vehicle. Traffic school will not take care of all traffic violations. Some exceptions include:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Excessive speed above 25 miles per hour over the posted limit
Being under the age of 18 with three or more violations
Having had another violation within 18 months
Violations for mandatory court appearances
If you’ve received a ticket in less than 18 months since a previous violation, you’ll need a judge’s approval to take traffic school again. It’s not uncommon for the judge to mandate a Stage II, or 12-hour, course.
Other Common Traffic School Questions
Can’t I Just Pay the Fine?
Yes, you can simply pay the traffic fine, but that means a point will be added to your record. It will remain there for 39 months. While this is the quickest way to handle the problem, you actually end up paying for the ticket for more than three years, if it increases your insurance rates. A state-approved driving school is an assurance that the ticket will be dismissed and you won’t have to worry about rising rates.
“If you fail to get your ticket dismissed, you can expect higher premiums that equate to hundreds of extra dollars spent per year,” Abrams added.
What Happens if I Don’t Take Traffic School?
If you simply ignore the ticket and do not take traffic school by the allotted time, you will automatically be found guilty. You’ll still need to pay all fines associated with the ticket. In addition, you will receive the moving violation point on your record and your insurance can be negatively impacted for 39 months. Again, traffic school is a sure-fire, low-cost, solution.
What if I Want to Contest the Ticket?
In some situations, people feel like they’ve been wrongfully accused. The frustration is understandable. But if the ticket is for a single point, for an offense such as speeding or disobeying a posted sign, it’s often cheaper and less time-consuming to simply attend traffic school online in the safety and convenience of your own home. You can pay any other associated fees and have the matter resolved quickly with little hassle. It’s very rare that a court will overturn a moving violation ticket, and you have to consider whether it’s really worth your time to challenge it.
Thinking About Traffic School?
If you received a California traffic ticket, our traffic school course is among the least expensive, fastest, and easiest ways to handle it. Our program is licensed in every county and every court in the state of California and can be taken online from the comfort of your own home.