About California Defensive Driving Courses
Defensive driving courses, or traffic schools, are available to California drivers who have received a moving traffic violation or want to earn a car insurance discount. All courses are approved and licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Depending on your California county traffic court, you may be allowed to complete online traffic school to dismiss the citation and avoid having points added to your driving record.
Traffic school in California is a program available to drivers with traffic violations on their driving record. Taking a CA DMV traffic school course allows drivers to diminish the adverse effects of a traffic ticket, including the potential rise in car insurance prices.
Drivers can enroll in DMV approved traffic schools to mask a ticket or reinstate a suspended license. They may also voluntarily take a safe driving class to learn how to make good decisions based on road and weather conditions, and review traffic laws. The California Department of Motor Vehicles keeps a list of traffic violator schools that are approved to offer point reduction courses. Defensive driving courses such as these are available to take at home, online or in the classroom.
Benefits of Defensive Driving Courses in California
By attending a California traffic school, you will take advantage of many benefits that include:
- Avoiding a driver’s license suspension.
- Preventing points from accumulating on your California driving record.
- Reinstating driving privileges.
- Avoiding a penalty towards your car insurance premium.
What defensive driving courses are offered in California?
California DMV approved traffic schools are offered by various private third-party companies, which administer driving classes to drivers who have committed traffic violations. Traffic violator schools are monitored by the Occupational Licensing (OL) Branch of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The OL also oversees a Mature Driver Improvement Program that is designed for drivers 55 years of age and older who wish to qualify for lower auto insurance premiums.
Where to Take a Driver Improvement Class/Traffic School
Traffic school classes are available in various locations throughout the state of California, and as a more convenient option, they can be taken online or through a workbook that can be completed at home. Home study driving classes are completed by filling out materials that are mailed to the driver. In some cases, certain driving courses require access to a computer or other electronic media player in order to complete some components.
All defensive driving courses taken online require access to the internet.
Why do I need traffic school?
Attending California traffic school can help prevent points from accumulating on your driving record and may lower your auto insurance premiums. Drivers who complete defensive driving classes become less of a liability to car insurance companies, and will thus receive coverage at a lower cost.
Did you know? If you are eligible to attend California traffic school and decide not to, your auto insurance may be negatively affected.
Who can take a defensive driving course in California?
Drivers can enroll in a standard California defensive driving course if they have recently been charged with a traffic infraction. Additionally, any licensed driver who is 55 years of age or older can participate in the OL Mature Driver Improvement Course to receive a car insurance discount. California law allows insurance companies to determine the discounts they grant drivers who complete defensive driving classes.
Prior to taking an approved driving improvement class, contact your insurance company about your eligibility for a discount and the possible discount amount.
Dismissing Traffic Points in California
Enrolling in a safe driving class can help drivers remove points from their driving record. In California, a driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for accumulating too many points in a certain time period, including:
- Four points in 12 months.
- Six points in 24 months.
- Eight points in 36 months.
You may be able to enroll in a DMV defensive driving course to remove points from your driving record, depending on your violation. In addition to suspension, points on your CA driving record can cause your insurance rates to spike, especially if you committed point violations that resulted in car crashes.
CA Defensive Driving Insurance Discounts
Enrolling in a defensive driving course may make you eligible to receive a car insurance discount. Traffic classes that may result in lower auto insurance premiums include the OL mature driver course. However, auto insurance discounts may only be granted to you at the discretion of insurance companies. The CA DMV does not have any control over insurance premiums and may not issue you any discounts or rate reductions.
Enrolling in California Defensive Driving Courses
How to Enroll in a Defensive Driving Course in California
Methods to enroll in a driver improvement course in California vary depending on which provider you choose. DMV.com features our own traffic school online course, which you can enroll in by clicking here.
Online California Defensive Driving Courses vs. in Person
Safety driving courses in California are offered in the following ways:
- In the classroom .
- Via home study.
Cost of Traffic School in California
The OL mature driver improvement course and renewal course must be taken as separate classes. The maximum fee for the classroom or non-classroom traffic course is $30, plus a $1 charge for a traffic school certificate to present to your car insurance provider as proof that you successfully completed the mature driver course.
Defensive Driving Course Eligibility
You are eligible to take a safe driving class in California if you have been charged with a moving traffic violation and have had points added to your driving record. If you are eligible for a CA DMV point reduction course, you will be notified by the California Courts. Additionally, you can also enroll in a driver improvement course to simply receive a car insurance discount.
California drivers are not eligible to attend traffic classes for the following offenses:
- Equipment offenses.
- Non-moving violations such as parking tickets.
- Offenses requiring a court-mandated appearance.
- Offenses involving alcohol or drugs.
- Offenses committed using a commercial motor vehicle.
Defensive Driving Course Certificate
After drivers attend a California defensive driving class, they will receive a driving school certificate of completion, which they must submit to their insurance provider in order to receive any type of discount on their insurance premiums.
California Defensive Driving School and Point Reduction
Does a California defensive driving school course remove a ticket?
No, a California defensive driving school course will not remove a recent traffic violation you have been convicted of. It will simply “mask” the ticket on your driving record.
How many times can I take a defensive driving course in California?
A driving school certificate of completion for the Mature Driver Improvement Program is valid for a period of three years from the date of completion. The traffic school certificate may be renewed by completing a mature driver improvement renewal course after the original certificate’s expiration.
Additionally, the ticket-masking driving classes can be taken once every 18 months.
Does a ticket still have to be paid after taking a defensive driving course?
Yes, prior to taking CA traffic classes, drivers are responsible for paying their traffic fines along with any court fees. Drivers who decide not to attend court will need to be granted permission from the court to not attend before their traffic ticket fine is due.
Can I remove a parking ticket if I take a defensive driving course?
Attending a California safe driving course may not dismiss a parking ticket. Only moving violations are eligible to be dismissed.
DUIs and Defensive Driving School
Standard traffic school programs may not reinstate DUI-suspended licenses. However, DUI programs in California provide first-offender and multiple-offender program services throughout 58 counties. Available California DUI programs include the following:
- The Wet Reckless Program: This is a 12-hour DUI alcohol and drug education program for people convicted of reckless driving while intoxicated.
- First Offender Program: The first offender DUI program in California consists of either a three-month, six-month or nine-month program, depending on the driver’s BAC level at the time of conviction.
- 18-Month Program: The 18-month DUI program is for second and subsequent DUI offenders and consists of 12 hours of alcohol and drug abuse education, 52 hours of group counseling, individual interviews and six hours of community monitoring.
- 30-Month Multiple Offender Program: Third and subsequent DUI offenders will be required to participate in the 30-month multiple offender DUI program, which consists of 12 hours of alcohol and drug education, 78 hours of group counseling, individual interviews and up to 300 hours of community service.