The simple answer? A lot. First off, let’s establish traffic school eligibility in California. You can take traffic school to prevent a minor citation from showing on your driving record if you meet the state’s qualifications:
- The ticket can’t be worth more than 1 point on your license. That means no DUI, misdemeanors, driving more than 25 MPH over speed limit, or other more serious offenses (check here for the full list of ineligible offenses)
- You can only take traffic school once every 18 months
- Must be completed within a specific period after the violation (typically 60-90 days)
Completing traffic school is extremely important because minor offenses stay on your DMV report for up to 5 years and can harm job prospects if you’re in a field that relies on you driving a vehicle. Tickets also impact your insurance rates for 3-5 years depending on the insurance company. The specific impact varies between insurance companies, but a 35% increase for the first year is about what you should expect. Factor in that the ticket affects your insurance rates for 3-5 years, and you can see it adds up quickly.
Say you pay $1000/yr. for your current insurance coverage. That first ticket will cost you $350/yr. X 3 years, coming to $1050 just in increased insurance costs, let alone the cost of the ticket.
Once you have a ticket on your record you also become vulnerable to losing your California Good Driver Discount (20% insurance discount). The state offers this discount to anyone who has less than 2 minor citations/at fault accidents in the last 3 years, and no DUI or major violations in the last 10 years. Once you get that second ticket or at fault accident you can expect your rate to go up even more than before because of the increase from the ticket plus losing your Good Driver Discount.
How To Take Traffic School
First you need to pay your ticket, and find out with the clerk what the cost of attending traffic school is. You have the option to attend an 8 hour course in person, or you can take an approved course online. There are dozens of vendors that offer online courses for $20-$40 and take care of the paperwork with the DMV for you.
It’s our goal to help clients in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area protect their car insurance rates and find the best ways to keep their costs down. Call us today or email us for any more information.
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Owner of Paul Nelson Insurance, and resident of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties for 30 years.