Traffic School and the Point System
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains driving records for all California drivers, including commercial drivers. Driving points are assigned to driving records for certain offenses. The driving point system also called the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), ensures proper action is taken against repeat traffic offenders' driving privileges and habitual traffic offenders can be prosecuted for repeated offenses. For commercial drivers, the point system can spell disaster for their job as you can receive a warning letter or even lose your license if you accumulate a certain number of points. For certain offenses, however, California drivers may be eligible to attend traffic school
Typically, only noncommercial drivers are eligible for traffic school. CDL drivers may be eligible for traffic school, however, if the offense was committed in a noncommercial vehicle. CDL holders must still meet the other requirements non-commercial drivers are subject to, including:
- The driver must have a valid license.
- The offense must have been committed in a noncommercial vehicle, and
- The traffic citation was for a moving violation.
Offenses for which you cannot attend traffic school include parking tickets and other non-moving violations, equipment offenses (i.e. fix-it tickets), misdemeanor offenses such as reckless driving, offenses with a mandatory court appearance, drug and alcohol related offenses such as DUIs, and offenses committed in a commercial vehicle. After completing the traffic school course, the DMV will enter the conviction on your driving record, but not a driving record point. For CDL holders, this can make a huge difference. You must complete the course by a certain date, given to you by the court clerk or judge.
If you are not eligible to attend traffic school for your specific offense, zero to three points will be added to your driving records (both personal and commercial). Zero points will not result in any action being taken. If you accumulate a certain number of points in a specified period of time, however, the DMV will take action against your driving privileges. There are four levels of action.
Level I: You will receive a warning letter from the DMV. You will be escalated to level I if you receive two points within a 12-month period.
Level II: You will receive a notice of intent to suspend from the DMV. You will be escalated to level II if you receive three points within a 12-month period.
Level III: You will receive an order of suspension/probation. The DMV will put you on probation for one year and your license will be suspended for six months, which runs concurrently. You will also be classified as a negligent operator. You will be escalated to level III if you receive four points within a 12-month period.
Level IV: You will receive a NOTS violation of probation order. You will be escalated to level IV if you accumulate any points, cause a collision, fail to appear at a hearing or fail to pay a fine.
If you are a UPS or other delivery driver, you can lose your job if you rack up enough traffic citations. Fortunately, you may be eligible for traffic school if your offense was committed in a noncommercial vehicle. But you must request the opportunity to attend traffic school within a specific period of time. And, even if you attend traffic school and do not receive a point on your personal driving record, the offense will still be added to your commercial driving record, and both insurance companies and your employer will be able to view it. For this reason, you should speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you are facing any type of traffic citation for on or off-duty driving. When your job is on the line, it is important to understand not only the consequences you could face but also the options you have for dealing with your case. Many traffic citations can be fought. An attorney can help you understand the NOTS and how it may affect your citation case. Likewise, an attorney can help you fight a traffic citation or request a NOTS hearing to challenge any action being taken against your driving privileges due to an accumulation of negligent operator points.
Do you have questions about your license? California attorney Christopher Martens knows California criminal defense and will work hard to keep your driving record clear so you can stay on the road. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has helped many Californians move on from their conviction. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.
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