Art. 892.1.  Driver improvement programs

A.  Whenever, in a misdemeanor case, a person is convicted of violating any law of this state that regulates traffic or any parish or municipal ordinance that regulates traffic, or when a child is decreed by a court to be a traffic violator, regardless of any sentence imposed, the court imposing sentence may order the person or child to attend and participate in a driver education, training, or improvement program approved by the court or the violator may choose a program approved by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, office of motor vehicles as provided and pursuant to the conditions in R.S. 32:402.2.

B.  Notwithstanding the provision of any other law to the contrary, upon conviction for the first time only of a misdemeanor offense under Title 32 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950 that regulates traffic or of any similar parish or municipal ordinance that regulates traffic, the court may suspend the sentence for such offense and order the defendant to attend, at his cost, a driver education, training, or improvement program as provided for in Paragraph A of this Article.

C.  Upon completion by the defendant of the driver program, the court may set the conviction aside and dismiss the prosecution.

D.  All driver improvement courses under this Article shall include instruction on railroad and highway grade crossing safety.

E.  The court in its discretion may defer sentencing and allow the defendant ninety days to present a certificate of course completion as evidence that, subsequent to the alleged act, the person has successfully completed a driver education, training, or improvement course as provided in Paragraph A of this Article when all of the following conditions are met:

(1)  The person, except as provided in Paragraph G of this Article, enters a plea in person or in writing of nolo contendere or guilty and presents to the court an oral request or a written request, in person or by mail postmarked on or before the appearance date on the citation, to take a driving course.

(2)  The court enters judgment on the defendant's plea of nolo contendere or guilty at the time the plea is made, but defers the imposition of the whole or any part of the sentence for ninety days.

(3)  The defendant has a valid driver's license or permit.

(4)  The defendant's driving record as maintained by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections does not indicate successful completion of a driver's education, training, or improvement course under this Article within the two years immediately preceding the date of the alleged offense.

(5)  The defendant files an affidavit with the court stating that he is not in the process of taking a course under this Article and he has not completed a course under this Article that is not yet reflected on his driving record.

(6)  The offense charged is for a misdemeanor offense under Title 32 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, except when the offense involves speeding twenty-five miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit at the place where the alleged offense occurred.

F.  A written request to take a driving course under Subparagraph E(1) of this Article is timely if it is postmarked on or before the appearance date on the citation.

G.  A court shall not require a minor who is sixteen years of age or younger to enter a plea of nolo contendere or guilty under Subparagraph E(1) of this Article.

H.(1)  When a person complies with Paragraph E of this Article and a certificate of course completion is accepted by the court, the court shall set the conviction aside and dismiss the charge, but the court may only dismiss one charge for completion of each course.

(2)  When a charge is dismissed under this Paragraph, the charge shall not be part of the person's driving record or used for any purpose; however, the court shall report that the person has successfully completed the driving course and the date of completion to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for inclusion in his driving record.  The report shall indicate that the course was taken under the provisions of this Article to determine eligibility to take a subsequent course under such provisions.

(3)  No insurance company shall increase the premium or cancel an insured's policy merely because of an offense dismissed under this Article or because the insured completed a driving course under this Article.

I.  The court may require the person requesting a driving course to pay a fee set by the court at an amount that does not exceed ten dollars to cover the cost of administering this Article.  Fees collected by a municipal court shall be deposited in the municipal treasury.  Fees collected by other courts shall be deposited in the criminal court fund of the parish in which the court is located.  If the person requesting a driving course does not take the course, he is not entitled to a refund of the court fee.  In addition to the cost of the driving course, the person shall pay any fines and costs for the driving offense.

J.  The authority vested in courts by this Article is in addition to any authority granted by other laws with respect to persons convicted of traffic violations and children decreed to be traffic violators.

Acts 1972, No. 224, §1; Acts 1985, No. 150, §1; Acts 1990, No. 834, §1; Acts 1991, No. 485, §§1 and 2; Acts 1993, No. 225, §2, eff. July 1, 1993; Acts 1995, No. 1091, §1; Acts 1996, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 93, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1336, §1.