California lifts ban on traffic school for truckers, simplifies proof of insurance

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/19/2012

A new law in California reverses a rule for truck drivers. Another rule change is intended to simplify providing proof of vehicle insurance.

California law now prohibits professional drivers from attending traffic school to remove routine traffic violations occurring in their personal vehicles, including motorcycles, from their records. The eight-year-old law was adopted to comply with federal rules.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill to change the rule. Specifically, commercial drivers will soon be allowed to attend traffic schools for minor violations occurring in their personal vehicles to help keep their driver status in good standing.

Previously AB1888, the new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013. At that time, point penalties will no longer be included for affected violations. However, insurance companies would continue to be notified of the violations.

To address concerns about truck rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration previously indicated in a letter submitted by advocates that the state may “hold the point count for violations that carry points under California vehicle and traffic law” without being in violation of the “prohibition on masking violations.”

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, has said that traffic school option would benefit truck drivers who may get a traffic ticket in their personal vehicle.

He previously told lawmakers that “(the change) would keep them employable because they will be able to get rid of a point that they get while driving their personal vehicles.”

Advocates say that the rule change makes sense. They say that violations in noncommercial vehicles should be treated the same way whether the driver has a CDL or personal license.

Also signed into law by Brown is a bill to give drivers the option to present their proof of vehicle insurance by smartphone, or other mobile device.

“This legislation falls into the category of making people’s lives easier by embracing technology in order to eliminate one of life’s small hassles, and it brings laws dealing with possessing and presenting proof of auto insurance into the electronic age,” Gatto said in a statement.

Starting Jan. 1, California will join Arizona and Idaho as states where the electronic version of this insurance document is equivalent to the paper form.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California, click here.

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