An Arizona driver being issued a traffic citation

So, it’s happened. You’re driving, and that familiar buzz occurs right as you approach a stop sign. You look down, and you look up to flashing lights in your rearview mirror. No one condones dangerous driving behavior and breaks the law, but what do you do once you are issued a citation for a moving violation in Arizona?

Is a defensive driving course your best option?

It boils down to a few things. Accept it. Plead guilty to the crime, pay your fines and fees, along with whatever other punishments the courts dictate, accept the points on your license, prepare for a probable increase in your insurance premium, and move on with your life.

Alternatively, you could fight the ticket, plead not guilty, pay extra costs in court other legal fees, and, with an airtight case, you might win. Might. You will have to appear before a judge and explain why you feel you did not deserve your citation. Cases like this are incredibly challenging to win.

You could ignore the situation altogether. However, letting it go will lead to increased fines and could lead to the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. You’ll also eliminate the possibility of taking a defensive driving course, which, as you’ll see, is a pretty good option.

Depending on the nature of your violation, you may be eligible to take a state-approved defensive driving course. Also known as traffic school. Completing traffic school and other requirements means no points on your license and no possibility of an increase in your insurance premiums.

Note that in some cases, the court may require you to take a defensive driving course. If you are ordered to do so, you’ll have to take it, and you will not be eligible for the point reduction or insurance premium forgiveness. This usually only occurs when you’ve received a more serious, potentially criminal, citation.

How do I know if I’m eligible for traffic school?

If it sounds like a pretty good deal, well, it is. You get the opportunity to improve yourself as a driver, and you get to avoid the punitive aspects of your citation. Is it too good to be true?

Well, no. But there are some restrictions. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You cannot have used a defensive driving program to resolve a separate citation in the last 12 months
  • A valid driver’s license
  • Your citation cannot be related to a collision that resulted in a severe injury or death
  • Your violation is a civil moving violation, not a criminal one
  • For more information on the types of citations that are eligible for dismissal through a defensive driving course, see this Arizona Court listing. You can look up your specific citation there.

    Also, note that you are required to complete the course at least 7 days before your scheduled court date.

    If you need to request an extension, you can find more information on the Arizona Court page.

    Are commercial license holders eligible?

    The short answer is maybe. As of September 1st, 2019, commercial drivers may be eligible for defensive driving classes, though they face their own set of requirements:

  • The vehicle you were driving can only require a class M or class D license
  • The date of your class is September 1st, 2019, or later
  • You cannot have been engaging in commercial activity when your citation was issued
  • You must still meet all other defensive driving requirements
  • So, now that you know you’re eligible, what’s your next step?

    How do I go to traffic school?

    Well, you’ll need to follow a few easy steps:

  • Register with the Arizona Judicial Branch to browse State-approved schools that fit your needs.
  • Find the one you want and begin the registration process with them. They will require:
  • A signed affirmation of Eligibility document — this affirms that you are eligible for their course.
  • A copy of your driver’s license
  • A copy of the citation you were issued
    Your payment for the course including any court and state fees.
  • If you have been issued a citation in Arizona, remember, you must have completed your defensive driving course 7 days before your scheduled court date.

    Can I take traffic school online?

    In most cases, yes. However, if the judge presiding over your case orders you to take it in person, you will have to register for an in-person course.

    How long is Arizona defensive driving school online?

    The good news is that a defensive driving course will not take you very long in Arizona. You will be required to complete between 4 and 4.5 hours of instruction.

    Driving carefree after taking a defensive driving course

    Which online driving school is the best in Arizona?

    Like many things in life, the answer to this question depends on your individual needs and preferences. Again, you’ll want to make sure that you take a State-approved course. However, as you’ll see, you’ll have a lot of options. Also, you have to decide whether you would like to take the course in person or online.

    Courses can vary quite a bit. Any State approved course will provide you with all the necessary instruction, but the way it delivers that education can be quite different from one to the next. Some are entirely straightforward, presenting information in a no-frills sort of way.

    Others will strive to educate through entertainment, hoping to liven up the traditional driving school formula with humor and production value.

    Many will fall somewhere in between. The most important thing is to find a course that works for you. Not only is this an excellent opportunity to avoid the financial consequences of your citation, but it’s also a great chance to improve your driving skills and avoid future citations by becoming a better, safer driver. Register today to get started!