In California, defensive driving instructors teach courses about how
to stay safe on the road and the importance of safe driving. California
defensive driving courses are often aimed at people who have a traffic
ticket and want to keep it from showing up on their driving records and
impacting their insurance rates. In California, these defensive driving
classes are referred to as traffic violator school or TVS for
California allows citizens to dismiss one traffic ticket each 18 months
by taking the 8-hour traffic violator class. The idea is to give people
a little "refresher course" on the rules of the road so that they will
be more inclined to obey California traffic laws in the future. These
classes are offered by traffic violator schools. Traffic violator
schools employ California traffic school instructors to teach the
required material to their students, test them, and keep records of
which students successfully pass the course. Then, the traffic school
provides certificates of completion for the students to give to the
Who regulates traffic violator schools?
Traffic violator schools and California defensive driving
instructors are regulated by the California Department of Motor
Vehicles. The DMV conducts background investigations on new
instructors, reviews their applications for licensing, and grants
California traffic school instructor licenses once all of the state
requirements have been fulfilled. The DMV is also responsible for
investigating complaints against California defensive driving school
Requirements for California traffic school instructors
Section 11206 of the California Vehicle Code spells out the DMV's
requirements for California traffic school instructors. In order to
receive an instructor's license, potential candidates must possess the
- Pass a test on state traffic laws, how to operate a motor vehicle,
how to drive to defensively and how to teach these concepts to students
- Have a valid California driver's license. If you are on probation
with the DMV for having too many negligent operator points, you are not
eligible to become a defensive driving instructor in California.
- A potential traffic school instructor is also ineligible if their
driving record has an unsettled failure to appear or failure to pay a
fine on it.
- Candidates must be able to pass a background check. The DMV will
not issue a traffic violator school license to anyone that has been
convicted of a crime involving "moral turpitude" related to their job
duties as a California defensive driving instructor.
- Be able to submit a sworn statement from a licensed traffic school
stating that the traffic school intends to employ you.
How do I become a California defensive driving school
There are several steps to becoming a California traffic school
teacher. The first step is to find employment with a licensed traffic
violator school, since you have to have a sworn statement from them to
get your license. The next step is to study for the state exam. The
California DMV recommends that you check your local library for books
on defensive driving, as well as studying the California Driver
Handbook and the Vehicle Code. The traffic violator school you are
working with may also have study materials you can use.
Once you feel you are ready, you can take the written test. Your
traffic school will administer the test to you. There are 50 questions
on the test, and you must answer 40 correctly to pass. The test is
timed, and you'll have 45 minutes to complete it. You do get three
chances to pass, with a one week waiting period between each attempt.
Also, the state requires that all California traffic violator school
instructors be fingerprinted using electronic LiveScan technology as
part of the criminal background check process. Your local police
department will be able to help you find a LiveScan site, or you can
contact the DMV's Occupational Licensing Offices at (916) 229-3126
(Sacramento) or (213) 744-7563 (Los Angeles. After you pass the
test and have your fingerprints taken, you'll need to submit a
completed application package.
In order for the DMV to issue a California defensive driving instructor
license, your application package must contain all of the following
- The Personal History Questionnaire, form OL-29
- The application for a traffic violator school instructor license,
- Proof of High School Education
- Receipt for LiveScan fingerprinting request
- Fees totaling $31, a $30 application fee and a $1 Family Support
After the DMV receives your application package, they will issue you
a license as long as you meet all of the requirements and all of your
documents are in order. It usually takes 120 days for them to complete
their background check and issue a permanent license, but you should
receive a temporary license in the meantime.
Continuing education requirements
Once you have your license, you'll have to apply every year for
renewal. Every three years, you must either re-take the written test or
submit proof to the DMV that you have completed 18 hours of continuing
education. Continuing education classes can consist of seminars on
variety of traffic safety-related topics. These seminars are available
at instructor conferences. You must bring a verification form with you
to the conference and have it signed by one of the seminar registration
personnel to prove that you attended the class. You can download the
Continuing education seminars are held by professional organizations
for driving instructors. Your traffic violator school operator will
help you find classes.
Job opportunities and income potential
Are you gifted with patience and a sense of humor? Do like to help
other people learn and enjoy making a difference in the world? If you
so, you may want to consider a career as a California traffic school
teacher! You'll get to meet lots of new people, and you'll be able to
teach them important skills that will help prevent accidents and keep
your students safe on the road.
Even better, California defensive driving schools are a growing
industry. More and more people are choosing to attend traffic violator
school to dismiss traffic tickets. According to statistics published by
the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in a June 2008 Member
Advisory, enrollment in traffic violator schools has skyrocketed over
the last decade, from 939,719 students in 1996 to 1.2 million in
How much do California defensive driving instructors make? Your income
potential depends on numerous factors, such as what part of the state
you are teaching in, how many classes you teach each week, and whether
you work full time or part time. According to Careerbuilder.com's
Salary Calculator, the average salary for a defensive driving
instructor in San Francisco is $38,048/year.
Are you interested in becoming a California defensive driving
instructor? Click here to get started!