California has more than 175,000 miles of roads, providing ample opportunity for drivers in the Golden State to find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Speeding is what gets most drivers in hot water, and if you're on this page, chances are you already know that tickets not only bump up your points tally, they can impact your insurance rates, and even lead to a license suspension. You want to keep your points count as low as possible.
Before you shop for a California traffic school, you'll want to determine if you qualify for the program's benefits. Here are a few of the rules around it:
You'll also want to confirm that the school you're considering is certified by the state to help eliminate the one point applied to your record if you declined this route. The California DMV website has a complete list of approved schools to check against your choice.
By the way, your infraction can't be more than one point - for instance, if you were cited for reckless driving along with speeding. Anything more than one point isn't eligible, which is yet another reason to continually practice moderation behind the wheel. If you don't, your problems can multiply.
The California DMV allows you to complete your traffic school requirements in three different course formats: classroom, home study or online.
1. Classroom Course - If you choose this option, you'll attend a classroom at a predetermined time and put in a full eight hours there before you can take the quiz at the end. This may sound like grade-school drudgery, but there is some benefit from in-person instruction, and the vast array of schools catering to all kinds of population subsets means that classroom traffic school might actually be a way to tear yourself away from the screen and go sit with people like you for a while.
2. Home Study - Going this route means having your course materials mailed to you, or you go pick them up. You'll likely need a computer or media player to access the CDs or DVDs you'll receive, but you won't need internet access to complete the course on your own.
3. Online - With everything from shopping to dating going online, it's no surprise that traffic school has maximized the internet to make itself more modular and freely accessible. Some online providers offer an interface that can be paused on a computer and then picked up again on a smartphone, which allows you to absorb the information in piecemeal portions.
It's essential to confirm that whatever traffic school you're considering is within the California DMV's "Occupational License Status Information System." Yes, that's a mouthful of bureaucratic officiality, and it means is your school must be listed in the database of certified providers. The California DMV website has a complete list of approved schools.
Prices for California traffic schools start at less than $10 and can end up five or six times that, depending on the amenities the school offers. Choose according to your budget, and take comfort that even the priciest California traffic schools are much less expensive than the insurance ding your extra point will bring.
Sometimes when researching California traffic schools, we came across websites that seemed amateurish and maybe a little sketchy. After filtering for apparent credibility, we then checked all the sites we've recommended against Google's Transparency Report.
We refined our traffic school recommendations to those that are popular on the web, (as evidenced by number of users) and have at least 90% positive reviews on customer feedback websites, and where applicable, top ratings with the Better Business Bureau.
Save time and money with online classes
A: The term "traffic school" is key in California, as it defines the courses that are approved to mitigate your infraction. "Defensive driving," on the other hand, can encompass a variety of curriculums, so stick with programs using the official term. The California DMV website has a complete list of approved schools if you're in doubt.
A: Yep, residents of the state Silicon Valley calls home have many choices in online traffic schools.
A: California-approved online traffic school prices start at less than $10 and generally stay comfortably below $100, so you're not going to break the bank. The cheapest ones typically get a bit more expensive when you add extras that the pricier programs throw in for free, like course printouts.
A: California requires eight hours of traffic school classroom instruction, but online study can go at your own pace. You just have to pass the quiz at the end.
A: In California, the fines and fees are unaffected by traffic school; you still have to pay them. The main benefit of traffic school is to keep the resulting point off your driving record.
A: In California, you'll still have to pay for the ticket, but successful completion of traffic school will erase it from your record.
A: There may be an California-servicing insurance carrier that offers a discount on insurance premiums following the completion of traffic school, but it would be news to us. If you're curious, check with your provider to see if they do. Otherwise, traffic school is mainly there to wipe minor infractions from your record.
A: Defensive driving courses in California are typically skill-enhancing programs with a certain focus, like teen or senior drivers. In this state, "traffic school" has a very specific purpose for drivers who have earned a minor infraction and want to keep it off their future driving record.
Taking classes online is often faster and cheaper than the classroom.