Under a new California state law, AB 2499, that takes effect on July 1, 2011, the CA Department of Motor Vehicles will be keeping track of repeat traffic offenders.

Drivers with points on their licenses can go to traffic school, but the courts will no longer dismiss infractions against them.

In the past, when courts dismissed an infraction, the driver had his or her record cleared and the DMV had no clear picture of the driver’s actual history.

With the new guidelines, drivers who attend a traffic school defensive driving course will have their first conviction masked and not receive negative marks on their driving record, according to the DMV.  But, if they commit additional violations within an 18-month period, the convictions will appear on the driver’s record, negligent operator points will be assigned and the person’s insurance company will be notified.

Traffic School Expert Says Change Puts “Teeth in an Old Law”

Gary Alexander, national traffic school expert and the owner of the Improv Traffic School, which offers both classroom and online classes, said it is not really a new law, “but one that puts teeth in an old law.”

In the past, the law had provisions that allowed judges more discretion on the frequency in which a driver could go to traffic school. “Not every court was connected. Courts did not communicate with each other,” said Alexander. “So someone with a violation in Los Angeles County might not be stopped from going to traffic school for a violation in Orange County.”

Alexander said the new law was part of a larger package that also gave the DMV better control of traffic schools themselves. It will close a gap in the way traffic infractions are handled that allowed for repeat offenders to “get around” the system and continually take traffic school to wipe their records clean.

In addition, traffic schools will not mask convictions if they are for major violations such as driving under the influence or reckless driving, or the driver has a commercial driver’s license or was operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense.

CHP Officer Larry Hockman with the Coastal Division said officers are hoping the new law will have an effect on repeat offenders and make the roads safer.

Hopefully, more people will think twice knowing they are no longer able to go to traffic school more than once in an 18-month period. Because of the change in the law, the court will now know whether or not a driver has attended traffic school in the recent past.