you haven't already done so, please read the Editorial (about
traffic school) on the Links page.
Traffic School Law
The Code and
Rules of Court
For the official rules about traffic school, see:
California Rules of Court, Rule
4.104 ( alternate
link to rules )
California Vehicle Code Section
41501 (the law that ended the availabililty of
(which, effective Jan. 1, 2013, made traffic school
available to drivers having commercial licenses if they
were driving a non-commercial vehicle),
(says which CVC sections carry a point), and
(says which CVC Sections are not required to be
reported to the DMV).
site for Vehicle Code lookup.
Other Resources on
See the discussion
of traffic school in the Handling Your Ticket section
of the Your Ticket page, and in my detailed discussion
of the book Fight Your Ticket.
If you got a court notice saying "traffic school is
not an option after trial," were told "no
school after trial" by one of the phone
attendants at the court, or if the bailiff or the
judge announced it everyone in the courtroom,
and the Long Beach
section on the Camera Towns page.
Law (with Some Commentary)
by highwayrobbery.net are in double square
brackets [[ ]] . Some emphasis
(bolding and/or underlining) has been added.
is a question as to whether the Wozniak and
Enochs decisions are "precedent" in all of
California, or just in Los Angeles County.
The abbreviation "Supp." in the case cites
indicates that the decisions came from a
lower-level appeals court, whose decisions may
or may not be accepted by courts in other
People v. Wozniak
(1987) 197 Cal.App.3d Supp. 43 , 243 Cal.Rptr. 686
[Crim. A. No. 25132. Appellate Department, Superior Court,
Los Angeles. December 15, 1987.]
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. ERIC N.
WOZNIAK, Defendant and Appellant
(Opinion by Soven, J., with Cooperman, P. J., and
Newman, J., concurring.)
Eric N. Wozniak, in pro.
per., for Defendant and Appellant.
Ira Reiner, District
Attorney, Arnold T. Guminski and Martha E. Bellinger,
Deputy District Attorneys, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Defendant was convicted of
speeding in violation of Vehicle Code section 22350. The
officer testified that defendant was driving 52 miles
per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone. After the officer
and defendant testified, defendant asked to attend
The statement on appeal
states: "The Court then informed the defendant that it
was not possible to attend traffic school after
receiving a trial. The Judges had adapted [sic] the
policy that traffic school is available before trial as
an alternative to trial."
Vehicle Code section 42005,
subdivision (b), provides that "[i]n lieu of
adjudicating a traffic offense, and with the consent of
the defendant, or after conviction of a traffic offense,
the court may order any person issued a notice to appear
for a traffic violation to attend a traffic violator
school ...." (Italics added.)
Section 42005, by its terms,
envisions the possibility of traffic school either
before or after conviction. fn. 1. Moreover, independent
of the particular language of section 42005, this court
held in People v. Enochs [[see copy below]] (1976) 62
Cal.App.3d Supp. 42, 43-44 [133 Cal.Rptr. 363], that a
court's discretion to grant or deny a request for
traffic violator school did not encompass a blanket
refusal to permit traffic school to all defendants who
requested traffic school after trial: "To grant or
refuse a request for traffic school on such an arbitrary
basis is a clear abuse of discretion by the trial court.
Such discretion must be 'governed by legal rules to do
justice according to law.' [Citations.] A decision based
on the order in which a defendant made his requests is
not one grounded in 'legal rules to do justice according
"The trial judge has the
power to order defendant to attend traffic school. If
the trial judge believes that a defendant's
circumstances indicate that a defendant would benefit
from attending school, such attendance should be
authorized. The question of such imposition should not
be affected by the order in which plea, explanation and
request (for school) are presented. To decide on defendant's
entitlement to traffic school on the basis of the
order of presentation rather than the facts of the
case is capricious and arbitrary."
In summary, both the present language of
Vehicle Code section 42005 and People v. Enochs [[copy
below]], supra, 62 Cal.App.3d Supp. 42, decided more
than 11 years ago, require
trial courts to consider the merits of a defendant's
request for traffic violator school whether that
request is made before or after conviction. The trial
court in this case abused its discretion in relying on
a court policy to deny any defendant permission to
attend traffic violator school after conviction.
The judgment of conviction is
affirmed. The case is remanded to the trial court with
directions to set the matter for a hearing to consider
and decide defendant's request for traffic violator
school consistent with the views expressed in Enochs and
in this opinion.
Cooperman, P. J., and Newman,
FN 1. Section 42005, as
enacted in 1968, provided that the "court may order any
person convicted of a traffic violation to attend a
school for traffic violators ...." (Stats. 1968, ch.
1192, § 21, p. 2265.) This portion of section 42005
remained in effect until 1984. (See Stats. 1975, ch.
844, § 3, p. 1910.) In 1984, subdivision (a) of section
42005 was amended to provide for traffic violator school
"[i]n lieu of adjudicating a traffic offense, and with
the consent of the defendant ...." (Stats. 1984, ch.
1037, § 5, pp. 3596-3597.) The provision for traffic
school after conviction was added in 1985. (Stats. 1985,
ch. 396, § 23.)
People v. Enochs (1976) 62 Cal.App.3d Supp. 42
[[People. v. Enochs is cited in P. v. Wozniak, above.]]
[Crim. A. No. 14350. Appellate Department, Superior Court,
Los Angeles. September 15, 1976.]
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JACK EDWARD
ENOCHS, Defendant and Appellant
(Opinion by Marshall, P. J., with Cole and Alarcon,
Jack Edward Enochs, in pro.
per., for Defendant and Appellant.
Burt Pines, City Attorney,
and Ward G. McConnell, Deputy City Attorney, for
Plaintiff and Appellant.
MARSHALL, P. J.
Defendant was charged with
violation of section 22348, subdivision (a) of the
Vehicle Code; he pleaded nolo contendere and then made
an explanation, following which he asked that he be
permitted to attend traffic school. Defendant contends
that the court would not permit him to attend because he
gave his explanation before asking for traffic school.
The trial court declared in
its certified statement that the "custom" in arraignment
court is to inform defendants that if they wish to
attend traffic school, they must state such desire
before they give any explanation of their conduct. fn.
1. According to the settled statement, if an explanation
is given before defendant requests traffic school, he
will be denied the right to attend the school.  To
grant or refuse a request for traffic school on such an
arbitrary basis is a clear abuse of discretion by the
trial court. Such discretion must be "governed by legal
rules to do justice according to law." (See Ex Parte
Hoge (1874) 48 Cal. 3, 5 quoted with approval in In re
Podesto (1976), 933 [127 Cal.Rptr. 97, 544 P.2d 1297].)
A decision based on the order in which a defendant made
his requests is not one grounded in "legal rules to do
justice according to law."
The trial judge has the power
to order defendant to attend traffic school. If the
trial judge believes that a defendant's circumstances
indicate that a defendant would benefit from attending
school, such attendance should be authorized. The
question of such imposition should not be affected by
the order in which plea, explanation and request (for
school) are presented. To decide on defendant's
entitlement to traffic school on the basis of the order
of presentation rather than the facts of the case is
capricious and arbitrary.
The judgment is reversed.
Cole, J., and Alarcon, J.,
FN 1. Incidentally, we note
that the general statement of rights dated May 8, 1975,
read to the defendant according to the docket, mentioned
that the request for traffic school must precede the
defendant's explanation. This does not constitute notice
to defendant that if he does not make his request, as
indicated, he will be fined and not sent to traffic
school. In any case, whether the defendant has such
notice or not, the custom is arbitrary.
What to Do When the Court
Uses Traffic School to Twist Your Arm
If the phone attendants at the courthouse or the central
phone bank are telling callers that there is no traffic
school after trial, call back, ask for the Senior Court
Manager, and complain.
If at the beginning of the trial session the bailiffs in
the courtroom are telling defendants that there is no
traffic school after trial, or discussing traffic school
in any other way that you feel is arm-twisting or
coercive, complain at the bailiff's office in the
courthouse. Bailiffs should not be doing the
judge's dirty work!
If at the beginning of the trial session your judge
announces that there is no traffic school after trial,
or indicates that while there is a chance of getting it,
the chance is very, very small, do a
Challenge. See the Editorial
on the Links page, for details.
Doesn't Have to Tell You Why He Denied School
After the Superior
court appellate decision in the Wozniak case
(which has almost no
binding or precidential value authority regarding other
courts beneath it, except in LA County), the Court of
Appeal for the 2nd District of California (which does
have binding precidential authority on all lower courts
within its appellate jurisdiction) came down with a new decision in a case called
People v. Schindler. The case held (citing Wozniak and
another case) that while the lower courts could not have
a policy of automatically denying traffic school to
defendants who have gone to trial and lost, the lower
courts are not required to justify, on the record, their
decisions denying that privilege.
(Thanks to Attorney David Olenczuk for the
Schindler case, and exposition.)
People v. Schindler (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 431 ,
26 Cal.Rptr.2d 255
[No. B077198. Second Dist., Div. Four. Nov 23, 1993.]
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. CARYN
SCHINDLER, Defendant and Appellant.
(Municipal Court for the Los Angeles Judicial District
of Los Angeles County, No. UP35908, Leo Grizzaffi,
Temporary Judge. fn. *
(Opinion by Vogel (C. S.), Acting P. J., with Hastings,
J., and Conway, J., fn. †
Caryn Schindler, in pro.
per., for Defendant and Appellant.
James K. Hahn, City Attorney,
Debbie Lew and Edith Kornfeld Light, Deputy City
Attorneys, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
VOGEL (C. S.), Acting P. J.
Pursuant to rule 62,
California Rules of Court, we transferred this matter
from the appellate department of the superior court in
order to settle an important question of law. 
Contrary to the appellate department, we conclude that
after convicting a defendant of a traffic infraction the
trial court is not required to state its reasons for
denying the defendant's request for traffic school.
(Veh. Code, § 42005.) fn.
1 We affirm the judgment of the municipal court.
Defendant and appellant Caryn
Schindler was cited for speeding at 76 miles per hour on
the freeway, in violation of section 22349 which sets
the maximum speed at 55 miles per hour.
At the arraignment the trial
court advised that if prior to trial, a defendant
pleaded guilty subject to being granted traffic school,
the court would grant traffic school.
The court further advised
that if a defendant was convicted after trial, the
granting of traffic school was an alternative sentence
within the discretion of the court, that the court might
or might not grant traffic school and need not give a
reason for granting or not granting traffic school. The
court stated that a request for traffic school would be
judged in light of all the facts presented to the court.
The court gave an example that if a defendant was found
guilty of driving 30 miles per hour in a
25-mile-per-hour zone the court might grant traffic
school, but if a defendant was found guilty of driving
80 miles per hour in a school yard the court might not.
Appellant offered to plead
guilty to violating section 22349 at a lesser speed. The
court advised that it would not accept a plea at a
lesser speed, treated appellant's offer as a plea of not
guilty, and tried the case. Upon the citing officer's
testimony, the court found appellant guilty as charged.
After conviction, appellant
requested traffic school. The court denied this request.
Appellant requested the court to give its reasons for
not granting traffic school. The court declined to give
Under section 42005, the
court may order traffic school. Although the court may
not arbitrarily refuse to entertain a request for
traffic school merely because a defendant elects to
plead not guilty (People v. Wozniak (1987) 197
Cal.App.3d Supp. 43 [243 Cal.Rptr. 686]; People v.
Enochs (1976) 62 Cal.App.3d Supp. 42 [133 Cal.Rptr.
363]), the court otherwise has discretion to grant or
not grant traffic school for a traffic violation.
(People v. Levinson (1984) 155 Cal.App.3d Supp. 13, 21
[203 Cal.Rptr. 426].) fn.
Nothing in section 42005
requires the court to state its reasons for granting or
rejecting traffic school. This contrasts with statutes
which expressly require the court to state reasons.
(E.g., Pen. Code, § 1170, subd. (c) [felony sentence
choices]; Code Civ. Proc., § 128.5, subd. (c) [sanctions
for frivolous or bad faith tactics].) Regardless of
whether a statement of reasons would be useful to a
reviewing court (People v. Gray (1986) 187
213, 222 [231 Cal.Rptr. 658]), the Legislature,
knowing full well how to mandate the giving of a
statement of reasons, has not done so in this statute.
(People v. Fugate (1990) 219
1408, 1412-1413 [269 Cal.Rptr. 37] [court need not
state reasons for misdemeanor sentence choice]; People
v. Romero (1985) 167
1148, 1152-1157 [213 Cal.Rptr. 774] [court need
not state reasons for imposing particular restitution
We are especially loathe to
impose by judicial decision a requirement of a statement
of reasons in the context of this case, involving the
disposition of a mere infraction. (§§ 40000.1, 42001,
subd. (a), 42005; Pen. Code, § 19.6.) fn. 3
In In re Kathy P. (1979) 25
91, 96-101 [157 Cal.Rptr. 874, 599 P.2d 65], the
Supreme Court held that traffic infractions by juveniles
could constitutionally be tried in juvenile court by
nonattorney subordinate judicial officers. The court
commented, "Given their nature, the high volume of
infraction cases ... clearly necessitates simplified
procedures for their fair and efficient disposition. In
other contexts this court often has recognized the
permissibly summary handling of infraction cases by
excepting them from rules required in misdemeanor cases
..., by permitting minor traffic charges to be tried
without a prosecuting attorney ..., and by holding
conviction of a traffic infraction not a bar to
prosecution for a more serious related offense ....
Advantages of expediting infraction cases through
flexible, innovative procedures are that 'defendants
gain a swift and inexpensive disposition of their cases
without risk of major penalties; and the prosecution,
the court system, and ultimately the public benefit
because judicial and law enforcement resources are freed
to concentrate on serious criminal behavior.' " (Id. at
pp. 98-99, citations and fn. omitted; see also People v.
Lucas (1978) 82
47, 48-56 [147 Cal.Rptr. 235].) The Legislature
has also recognized the public interest in efficient
summary processing of traffic infractions by authorizing
trials on written declarations and summary trials. (§§
To require the busy municipal
court to state reasons on the record for denying traffic
school in individual cases would impose a time-consuming
burden which interferes with the public interest in the
efficient processing of thousands of infraction cases.
The burden on the system and the public would be far out
of proportion to the benefit to be gained by the
occasional defendant who hopes to persuade a reviewing
court that discretion was abused based on the particular
circumstances of his or her case. Given the
discretionary nature of the decision and the minor
nature of the offense, the trial court should not be
saddled with the additional burden of stating its
reasons on the record, where the statute does not
require it. fn. 4
Here, the trial court was not
required to give an explanation, and nothing in the
record establishes an abuse of the trial court's
The judgment is affirmed.
Hastings, J., and Conway, J.,
fn. * concurred.
FN *. Pursuant to California
Constitution, article VI, section 21.
FN †. Judge of the Los Angeles
Superior Court sitting under assignment by the
Chairperson of the Judicial Council.
FN 1. All statutory references
are to the Vehicle Code unless otherwise indicated.
Section 42005, subdivision
(b) provides: "In lieu of adjudicating a traffic
offense, and with the consent of the defendant, or after
conviction of a traffic offense, the court may order any
person issued a notice to appear for a traffic violation
to attend a traffic violator school ...."
FN 2. The practical
significance for most drivers is that attendance at
traffic school may lead to dismissal of the charge,
clearing the driver's record. (§§ 1803.5, 42007, subd.
(e); Amerian, How to Defend a Traffic Ticket (Feb. 1977)
52 L.A.Bar J. 398, 402.)
FN 3. Under sections 42001,
subdivision (a), and 42005, subdivisions (a) and (b),
appellant's infraction is not punishable by imprisonment
but only by fine and/or attendance at traffic school.
Penal Code section 19.6
provides: "An infraction is not punishable by
imprisonment. A person charged with an infraction shall
not be entitled to a trial by jury. A person charged
with an infraction shall not be entitled to have the
public defender or other counsel appointed at public
expense to represent him or her unless he or she is
arrested and not released on his or her written promise
to appear, his or her own recognizance, or a deposit of
See also People v. Levinson,
supra, 155 Cal.App.3d at page Supp. 16, footnote 2
(hearing-impaired traffic violator not entitled to
court-appointed interpreter for traffic school).
FN 4. Inconsistencies between
one court and another, or one defendant and another, can
be addressed in other ways than requiring statements of
reasons in individual cases. We note that the
Legislature has required the Judicial Council to study
and report on the advisability of establishing uniform
statewide eligibility criteria governing drivers seeking
to attend traffic violator's school. (§ 42007, subd.
(c); Gov. Code, § 7550.5, subd. (a).)
FN *. Judge of the Los Angeles
Superior Court sitting under assignment by the
Chairperson of the Judicial Council.