Online California Traffic School Requirements

If you’ve been permitted to attend traffic school, then you should count yourself lucky because California’s laws state that nobody, in essence, has a right to attend traffic school. (The rules governing attendance at an online traffic school in California are found in 4.104 of the California Rules of Court and section 41501 of the California Vehicle Code.) Instead, traffic school is offered to violators at the discretion of a judicial officer or court clerk.

Technically, when it allows you to attend traffic school, the court issues you a continuance of its proceedings against you for “violation of a statute relating to the safe operation of a vehicle.” It can only issue this continuance if you have pleaded guilty, no contest, or been convicted. If these conditions are satisfied, then state law allows the court to order that your conviction be held confidential so that the impact of the ticket is minimized. (California Vehicle Code 41501.)This means that your automobile insurer will not learn of the violation and will not raise your rates.

Court Clerks Hold The Key In California For Traffic School

Court clerks are authorized to grant a request to attend traffic school, but only if your case meets certain requirements. You must pay a court fee, in addition to the separate fee charged by the traffic school. Additionally, you must not have committed certain infractions. If any of the following infractions are committed, the court clerk will refuse to grant your request to attend traffic violator’s school:

  1. The violation counts for more than one negligent operator point.
  2. It’s been less than 18 months since the last time you took traffic school for a previous violation. (This law is enforced much more strictly than in the past.)
  3. You were driving a vehicle with a tank carrying more than 500 gallons of flammable liquid and you were speeding or displaying willful or wanton disregard for traffic laws.
  4. Your violation involved alcohol use, or the possession or use of illegal drugs.
  5. You failed to appear in court, or pay a fine after you made a written promise to do so.
  6. You willfully failed to show up for court.
  7. Your speeding ticket was for more than 25 miles over the speed limit.
  8. The violation occurred while you were driving a commercial vehicle, as defined by the California Code.

If You Meet The Requirements…


Provided you met all of the above requirements, there are additional requirements that pertain to taking traffic school online. These are not court-imposed restrictions on who is eligible – anybody who has received permission to take traffic school may do so online unless the court has demanded that they attend the school in person. (This is relatively rare.) Nevertheless, the courts have created online traffic school requirements to ensure that the privilege of taking traffic school online is not abused.

You Must Sign Up For Certified California Online Traffic Schools

Only traffic schools that have been authorized by the California Department of Motor Vehicles are eligible to offer online traffic courses. No course that is not been authorized will be accepted, so be sure that any course you sign up for has been approved. The California Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a list of authorized traffic school providers. It’s never a bad idea to check this list, just to be sure that the traffic school you’re considering is legitimate.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has stated that it will only accept online traffic school courses that take at least 400 minutes to complete. Online traffic school courses come in two main varieties: videotaped schools with presentations that you watch much like you would a movie, or written courses that you complete much as you would a test in school – by reading the relevant chapter and taking a test. Many written online traffic courses can be completed in less time by a motivated and fast reader. Of course, videotape-style traffic schools take about the same amount of time for everyone, since there’s no way to speed through them. However, the state of California also removed the course timer requirements for online traffic schools, which is excellent news for you.

In that case, make sure to go for an online traffic course that doesn’t have a course timer. This will allow you to finish the course at your own pace. To pass the final exam and quizzes, some drivers focus their attention on complex topics and skip more basic concepts. In this way, it’s possible to finish the course in as little as 2 hours without any problems.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles also requires that test-takers take a traffic test to prove they absorbed the material they learned in traffic school. Test takers must pass this test, which is administered by the traffic schools themselves, with a score of 70% or greater. The test must consist of at least 25 questions, which are multiple-choice questions rather than essay questions. If you don’t pass the test on your first attempt, you may try to take it one additional time.

Sign up for Online Traffic School that Has our TSC Certification

We know how difficult it is to find state-approved online traffic schools that are worth your money. 

At Traffic School Critics, we strive to provide you with the most honest reviews on online traffic schools. State certification doesn’t ensure quality online courses, so you can rely on our rigorous certification program to find which online traffic schools are a cut above the rest.

Find out how comprehensive our TSC certification is with an overview of our checklist:

  • BBB Rating: Checking the Better Business Bureau ratings gives us a good indication of customer satisfaction and experience. We make sure to recommend courses that have the highest A+ certification.
  • 24/7 Customer and Technical Support: We’re firm believers that a good online traffic school is based on solid 24/7 customer and technical support. There are schools like Improv Traffic School and iDriveSafely that offer 24/7 support through different methods: live chat, email, and phone.
  • Years of operation: We only give superior TSC certification to courses that have been around for five years or more, with at least 50,000 students. They should have a successful track record of satisfied customers that feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth with the course curriculum, resources, and customer support.
  • Certificate of Completion: Aside from having a transparent landing page that covers their certifications, online traffic schools should also be clear if they will provide a state-recognized certificate of completion upon finishing the course. If the course isn’t state-approved, you’ll have a difficult time having your points dismissed. It’s simply a waste of time and effort. We always inform our readers about the certificate of completion of each online traffic school we recoomend. 
  • Fast processing: We make sure that the online traffic school offers fast online processing of certificates.

Check out some of our comprehensive and honest reviews of the best online traffic schools in California.

How Long You Have To Complete A California Online Traffic School

Usually, California’s courts require you to take and complete traffic school within 90 days of the issuance of your citation. However, this can vary, so you should check the instructions sent by the court. You can take and complete traffic school on the very last day listed by the court – there is no requirement that you spread out your attendance over multiple days.

Proof Of Identity And Other Requirements

Other requirements are perhaps a little more obvious. You’ll need to provide proof of your identity when you take the course. The court doesn’t want other people to take your online traffic school for you. Different online traffic schools take different approaches to verify your identity. asks you personal questions as you register for the course. Then, as you take the course, the school asks you the same questions. The idea is to prove that you, and not someone else, is sitting behind the keyboard answering questions and observing the material.

The courts do not dictate the tone of the traffic school – there’s no requirement that traffic school bore you to tears. At least one traffic school, Improv Traffic School, specializes in entertaining traffic school courses written by, as the website says, “Hollywood writers and fueled by laughs from the Improv Comedy Club.”

Finally, the courts require proof that you attended traffic school. Traffic schools offer a certificate of completion, which they will automatically send to the California DMV upon completion of the course.

These requirements may seem onerous, but because so many people take traffic school, they’re easier to satisfy than you might expect. Just follow the instructions written on your ticket, and as you get to each stage you’ll find you’re given more instructions. Many people have successfully met California’s online traffic school requirements, and with only a little effort, you will as well.

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