Traffic School and Punishment for Traffic Offenses

The punishment for most vehicular offenses is listed in the California Vehicle Code. The listed punishments include offenses that are infractions1, misdemeanors2, and felonies3.

Traffic School

Traffic School and Punishment for Traffic OffensesTraffic school can be a viable alternate to receiving an offense on a person’s driving record. In order to take advantage of traffic school a person must deposit a fee, or bail, and be convicted of an eligible vehicle code violation. After a deposit of the fee or bail4 and a conviction, a court may order or permit a person to attend a licensed traffic violator school. The person must hold a noncommercial class C, class M1, or class M2 driver's license5. A person may choose which traffic school they wish to attend from a list provided by the court6.

Traffic school A person who intentionally fails to attend a court order traffic school is guilty of a misdemeanor7. Those wishing to take advantage of traffic school need to study the statutory requirements carefully to determine their eligibility8. A court clerk has the authority to grant a request to attend traffic school where a person meets the following criteria,

1) A person must have a valid driver’s license. to attend traffic school under Vehicle Code sections 41501(a) and 42005 ,

2) And they must have been convicted of any infraction under divisions 11 and 12 (rules of the road and equipment violations) of the Vehicle Code.

Ineligible Offense

Any misdemeanor or any of the following,

  • A violation that carries a negligent operator point count of more than one point under Vehicle Code section 12810 or one and one-half points or more under Vehicle Code section 12810.5(b)(2).
  • A violation that occurs within 18 months after the date of a previous violation where a person attended traffic school.
  • A violation of Vehicle Code section 22406.5 (tank vehicles).
  • Violations related to drugs or alcohol.
  • Where a person has failed to appear in court for any violation and the failure to appear has not been cleared.
  • A speeding violation of 25 mph over speed limit.
  • A violation by the driver of a commercial vehicle

Judicial Discretion to allow Traffic School for certain Ineligible Offenders - A judge or commissioner in some cases may order traffic school where the offense is a simple infraction, or in any other case where permitted by law, when a person has a class A, class B, or commercial class C driver's license. The offense must not have been committed in a vehicle requiring a commercial license.

Trial - A person is not made ineligible for traffic school by demanding a trial.

Ineligible Offense Disobeying a Court Order - Failing to fulfil a condition of a court order for a vehicle code violation, other than failure to pay a fine, is a misdemeanor notwithstanding the fact that a person may eventually comply with the condition9.

Driver’s License Suspension - The suspension of a person’s driver’s license is an additional penalty imposed for a conviction for certain offences in the Vehicle Code10.

Highway Construction Zone

Certain traffic offenses committed within a highway construction zone have enhanced penalties when construction or maintenance work is actually being performed by workers, and there are work zone traffic control devices, or warning signs, or any combination of those advising motorists of this fact,. Those enhancements include increased fines for infractions and misdemeanors.11

1Section 40000.1 of the California Vehicle Code
2Section 40000.5 of the California Vehicle Code
3Section 42000 of the California Vehicle Code
4Section 42007 of the California Vehicle Code
5Section 42005 (a) of the California Vehicle Code
6Section 42005 (d) of the California Vehicle Code
7Section 42005 (e) of the California Vehicle Code
8Section 42005 of the California Vehicle Code
9Section 40508 (c) of the California Vehicle Code
10Section 13101 of the California Vehicle Code Vehicle Code
11Sections 40310 and 42009(a) of the California