California Defensive Driving

In California, drivers are encouraged to complete traffic school, otherwise known as defensive driving. These schools offer the option to dismiss a traffic ticket and avoid adding a moving violation to your driving record, or get a discount on your auto insurance.

Traffic Violator School in California

If you've received a traffic ticket in California, you can choose to handle the ticket outright, or, you may be eligible to remove the conviction from your record and avoid adding points to your license by completing an eight hour traffic violator school course. Keeping the violation off of your record will also allow you to avoid higher auto insurance rates.

California Traffic Violator School Eligibility

Typically, if you are eligible to take a traffic violator school course, you will receive a courtesy notice in the mail. Most traffic violations will be eligible for traffic violator school, except for ineligible offenses or drivers including:

  • speeding violations higher than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • commercial vehicle violations
  • violations that require a mandatory appearance in court
  • a citation involving alcohol or drugs
  • cases involving a failure to appear warrant or a civil assessment (failure to appear charge must be adjudicated and paid in full before you can be eligible for traffic violator school)
  • drivers who have attended a traffic school program for a citation issued within the last 18 months

While many drivers in California will be eligible for a defensive driving course through a traffic violator school, it is essential that you verify your eligibility to attend the course with the court before enrolling. If you are not eligible to attend traffic violator school, but enroll and attend anyway, the conviction will remain, and you will not receive a refund of your fees.

Completing California Traffic Violator School Courses

To enroll in a California traffic violator school course, you must request permission to attend traffic violator school with the court. This must be done on or before the due date listed on your citation. Most courts will require that you pay fees to the court before your request will be approved. You may then choose a traffic school and pay a fee to enroll and receive records to send to the court.

Most courts will allow drivers up to 60 days to enroll and complete a defensive driving course with a traffic violator school. If you are unable to meet this deadline, you may contact the court to request an extension; some courts may grant a single 30 day extension if the request is made prior to the due date. The court may refuse to accept traffic violator school completions after the due date, or, assess additional administrative fees.

Drivers who request traffic school but do not complete a course will be considered to have failed to complete. If this is the case, you will forfeit any court and course fees paid and the conviction will be reported on your driving record with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Defensive Driving Courses Available in California

In your traffic violator school course, you'll learn about important topics in driving safety, as well as get access to resources that can improve your skills as a driver. Your traffic violator school course will include instruction in topics including:

  • recent changes to traffic laws
  • defensive driving
  • collision avoidance
  • driver distractions
  • knowing when not to drive (fatigue, drunk driving)
  • driver communication
  • courteous driving
  • child endangerment
  • poor driving conditions
  • driving rights, duties, and maneuvers
  • road rage and aggressive driving
  • rules of the road

Traffic School for Car Insurance Discounts

Even if you haven't received a traffic ticket, you may benefit from enrolling in a California traffic school course. Traffic school courses teach drivers about safety, updated laws, and can improve your driving knowledge and behavior. You may also be eligible for a discount on your auto insurance if you voluntarily complete a traffic school course.

California Mature Driver Improvement Course

California encourages mature drivers to complete an improvement course with a California traffic school. This is known as the Mature Driver Improvement Course. The course includes updates on the rules of the road, as well as important information on how medication, fatigue, physical limitations, and alcohol may have on your driving ability.

California Mature Driver School Eligibility

This benefit is available to mature drivers 55 or older. Upon completion of the course, eligible drivers can qualify for a reduction of car insurance premiums for three years. (After three years, drivers can enroll in a renewal course for an additional three years of discounts.) This amount is determined by the individual insurance company, and drivers with poor driving records may not be eligible, depending on the policies of the insurance company. It's a good idea to contact your insurance company prior to enrolling in a mature driver improvement course to verify your eligibility and learn how much you can save on your premiums.

Mature Driver Improvement Courses Available in California

Mature driver improvement courses in California are available online or in a classroom setting. In the initial course, at least 400 minutes of instruction time is required, and in the renewal course, 240 minutes of instruction are required. In this course, drivers 55 years of age or older get an update on driving skills with instruction in:

  • updated rules of the road
  • new, important laws to be aware of
  • safe driving practices
  • the effect of visual or auditory limitations on driving ability
  • the effect of medication, fatigue, and alcohol on driving ability

Enroll in California Traffic School Courses

Ready to sign up for your traffic school course? View our directory of California traffic schools to find the right course for your needs.

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