Whether you’re looking to step things up and create a business, or just think you can do a better job than a traffic school instructor you know, you’ve come to the right article. In this guide, we’ll give you all the details you need to know if you’re starting a traffic school in the state of California.
In California, only those that have been appointed by the court can attend traffic violator school. Find out what that means for you when you become an instructor and set up a traffic school yourself!
Wait, I Want to Attend a Traffic School, Not Start One!
You’ve got the wrong guide, but don’t worry. We know what you need to attend a traffic school in California too. By going to traffic school, you can avoid getting a point on your DMV record – but you’ll still need to pay for the traffic school fee and court fees. The requirements are:
- You’ve committed a traffic violation,
- That violation qualifies for traffic school,
- You have a valid driver’s license,
- You haven’t already been to traffic school for a violation in the past 18 months,
- Your violation wasn’t committed in a commercial vehicle (e.g., delivery truck).
In California, attending a traffic school is something only the courts can determine. It’s not a right under Californian law. Therefore, you can only attend a Californian traffic school if a court determines that you can.
If your reminder notice from the court/DMV doesn’t offer traffic school as an option, that usually means you aren’t eligible. You can always call the DMV to check, however.
Learn more about how to attend a traffic school in our guide to the easiest online traffic schools in California.
For information about starting, running, and managing a traffic violator school, keep reading!
3 Advantages of Starting Your Own Traffic School
Unsure if it’s the right career path for you? Here are the main advantages of being a traffic school owner.
You Are the Owner of the Business
There’s a huge difference between being the owner of a traffic school and an instructor of a traffic school. As the owner of the business, you don’t need to meet with customers at all. You could create a purely managerial position for yourself.
Technically, you will be your own boss – although your license with the DMV will dictate your business a fair bit. Nonetheless, you have all the advantages of being a business owner. You could even set yourself up as a consultant when you have enough experience. Who doesn’t want a job that allows them to travel across the country?
You Create the Lesson Plans
Ever attended a traffic school session and thought that you could do it better? As the owner of a traffic violator school, you can create the courses as long as they’re approved by the DMV.
The success of your students rests on you – so do your best job!
It’s also up to you to hire good, licensed instructors and train them to teach in the manner you want. This is why not everyone is cut out to own and manage a traffic school in California. You need a level of expertise in running a business, managing employees, and an understanding of traffic laws and regulations to be successful.
In California, your customers are people who have been directed to you from the DMV. They’re attending traffic school because they want to avoid getting a point on their license. This makes them motivated!
Not only does that mean your traffic school sessions will be better to teach (because theoretically, the students will be eager) but you’ll also have a high completion rate.
And of course, the more sessions that are attended, the more money you will make.
Consider These Disadvantages Too
On the flip side of the coin, there are a few disadvantages to starting a traffic school in California.
- You’ll need a good knowledge of traffic laws, teaching, AND running a profitable business to be successful,
- You can’t run a traffic violator school without a DMV license,
- Your students will likely be angry at needing to attend traffic violator school – albeit eager to get it over with – because of their traffic violation.
How to Start A Traffic School in California – Step by Step
First things first, you need to decide whether you want to be the owner of a traffic school or an instructor at a traffic school. These are two separate licenses at the DMV, so make sure you decide which one is right for you.
If you want to be the only instructor of your own traffic school, you will need both!
You can find information about the instructor license on the DMV’s official website. The steps for the traffic violator school owner license are as follows.
Step 1 – Get a Traffic Violator School Name
The first step is to create a name for your traffic violator school and have it approved by the DMV.
Your name must be no more than 35 alpha characters long – including spaces.
If the DMV finds the name to be misleading, undignified, or “implies that the school offers inducements of premiums which derogate or distort the instructional intent of the traffic safety program” then it will be disapproved.
So, “The DMVs BEST Traffic School” would be misleading.
But “Bobs Traffic School” would be fine. You could also use your school location to name the company, e.g. “La Habra Traffic Violator School”.
Before you submit the OL 612 form to submit your name, you can call the Business Licensing Unit on (916) 229-3126 to double-check if your desired name is available.
Step 2 – Get Your Lesson Plan Approved
You have two options here; create your own lesson plan or use a pre-approved one.
Original plans need the OL 764 form, including:
- A list of all materials submitted,
- A course that includes all topics and subtopics in the OL 613 form,
- Your personal details and your fee made out to the address included on the form.
Fees are higher if you are submitting an original course, whether it’s a classroom course, home study course, or internet course. If you’re submitting a revised course, the fees are slightly lower.
As for the topics you must include from the OL 613 form – it’s extensive! You will need to spend a lot of time creating the course from scratch. This isn’t something you can do over a weekend. But the DMV does provide many resources to make the task a little easier.
Pre-approved plans need the OL 766 form, including:
- Your personal details and set $25 fee made out to the address included on the form,
- Personal details of the owner of the plan,
- A letter from the owner permitting you to use the lesson plan.
The plan you want to use must have been approved by the DMV within the last 12 months.
Once that’s done, you need to wait up to 120 days for the DMV to respond to your letters. Yes, letters. Your requests need to be sent via snail mail!
Step 3 – Fill Out All the Forms
Once you’ve got your approval for the traffic violator school name and lesson plan, you can start filling out the long list of forms needed to launch your business.
- OL 713 – application for the license. You and your partners (if applicable) need to fill out this form.
- OL 29B – a questionnaire that each owner of the business must fill out separately. The DMV will do a background check.
- OL 142 – a form that assures your compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), stating that you won’t discriminate against individuals with disabilities.
- OL 144 – a form that proves you have a space for your office/classroom. You fill in half and the property owner fills in the other. For your business space, you also need to fill in:
- OL 704 or OL 704B or OL 25E – as a surety bond or deposit. You’ll need $2,000 depending on the form.
- DMV 8016 – a form to request live scan fingerprinting, so the DMV can check your criminal record. Bring this form, official government photo ID, and your $32 DOJ criminal record check fee to a live scan fingerprint site. Note: if you are from out of state (not residing in California) you need a fingerprint card. You can get one from your nearest DMV inspector’s office.
- A letter signed by the DMV approving your lesson plan (you should already have this from step 1).
- Evidence that you have offices/classrooms ready. This will be a copy of your rental or lease agreement.
Step 4 – Make an Appointment with the OL Inspector
The OL inspector will check through all your forms, collect the fees that are due, and inspect the business premises and books/records so they can fill out the final form.
- OL 140 – the inspector will check and sign this form if your traffic violator school office/classroom is approved.
A Few Things to Remember
The steps seem simple, but when you start to juggle all the forms and work out what fees are due, it can get complicated. So, take your time with it so you can get everything right the first time.
- Fees are non-refundable,
- The entire application must be completed within 12 months (or you’ll need to start over and pay the fees again),
- If you’re applying for the instructor and operator licenses as well, you only need to pay fees related to the owner application,
- When it comes to renewing your application, there is no grace period. You must renew it before your current license expires,
- When renewing your license, you need to resubmit the request for your lesson plan (whether it’s original or pre-approved),
- There’s a $100 fee every time you change your business name, address, officers, or add a new branch.
For more help and to download all the forms you need, make sure you visit the DMV’s page for the Traffic Violator School Owner License.
4 Californian Traffic Schools to Aspire To
Hopefully, you’ve realized by now that owning and running a traffic violator school in California is no easy task. But when you get it done correctly, the results can be impressive. Here are four DMV-approved traffic schools you can aspire to:
Oxford Traffic Violator School – a simple website, clear prices, and the promise of an entertaining yet informative lesson plan. You might actually have fun!
California Online Traffic School – modern website feels trustworthy and there’s 24/7 support. This school also has a social media presence. That’s something to think about for your own traffic violator school. How will you advertise?
Adriana’s Traffic School – having a name in the title is a nice touch. It makes the company feel a little more personal. This school website also has a blog and FAQ. Think about what your customers will want to know before they sign up.
Urban Traffic School – this company is set up to offer traffic violator courses in a range of states. Is this something your business will aspire to?
Frequently Asked Questions
Too busy to read our full article? Here are some quick-fire questions and answers.
How do I start a traffic school in California?
You need to register with the DMV, get your license, and set up a business.
What are the DMV requirements for a traffic violator school owner license?
There are many forms to fill out! You’ll need a unique school name, a pass on the DMV background check, and $2000 in surety bonds, among other things.
What experience do I need to run a traffic violator school?
Besides a good knowledge of traffic law, experience running a successful business and managing employees will be key.
When do I need to resubmit my DMV traffic violator school owner license?
Your license expires every 12 months. Set a reminder 11 months after you get your license, so you have a month to resubmit. As there’s no grace period, if your license expires before you can renew it then your business won’t be able to operate.