Getting a traffic ticket can be extremely stressful. You've now got a fine and points against your driver's license looming over your head, which may cause your car insurance rates to rise, adding insult to injury. However, there are some simple ways to have the penalties significantly reduced with the option to take a defensive driving course. If you are considering this option, you should first confirm that you are eligible to do so. Most people are.
There are a couple steps that need to be taken in order to take one of these defensive driving courses:
- Assume guilt. When you agree not to fight the ticket, you're taking responsibility for your mistake and taking on the appropriate consequences.
- Request permission to enroll in a traffic school defensive driving course. You should ask the court about this option sooner rather than later or while you are in court on the date posted on your ticket. In any case, make sure you handle the ticket correctly so your eligibility remains open.
Eligibility for Having a Ticket Dismissed
You must understand that some people will not qualify to have their traffic ticket dropped, and there's a chance you could be one of them. Anyone with a CDL cannot have the ticket dismissed, even if they were driving a personal vehicle when cited. Even people without a CDL are not always granted ticket dismissal eligibility.
In some cases, a defensive driving course does not automatically dismiss a ticket. Such cases usually involve more severe infractions such as:
- Excessive speeding of 25+ mph over the posted speed.
- Not cooperating at an accident scene.
- Passing a school bas when it is not legal to do so.
- Having multiple tickets within 12 months.
- CDL drivers getting a violation.
- Construction zone infractions with workers present.
- School zone violations.
Completing the Defensive Driving Course
If you are given permission to go ahead and finish a traffic school course to have your ticket dismissed, you will have a deadline for completing the course. Usually, this is a 90 day deadline, so do not delay. The deadline will creep up quicker than you realize and it may no longer be possible for you to fit in the time to complete a course.
Note: There are some defensive driving courses developed for online enrollment while traditional classroom courses are also an option, and lastly, there is a DVD course. Pick the one that best suits your schedule and preferences.
The course is about six hours of material, and after completion, you will receive two copies of the certificate that indicate you have completed the course. One of those must be taken to the courts to show you have passed the class. The other one can be sent straight to your insurance agent so your premium doesn't rise. Not taking these two steps can cause problems later down the road, so make sure you don't forget.
Submitting to Court
Before submitting, ensure you know what the court needs in order to dismiss your violation. Usual requirements are:
- The certificate proving you have successfully completed the course.
- The fines and fees required.
- Your driving record.
Confirm Updated Driving Record
After you have satisfied the requirements of your defensive driving course dismissal, you should check your driving record to see if the violation has indeed been removed. Mistakes are always possible, so it's a great idea to follow up. A mistake could result in higher car insurance rates or put you at future risk of a suspension. If there is an error, make sure you act quickly to change it.
Lowered Car Insurance Premiums
You may be happy to find out that taking a defensive driving course can actually help to lower your car insurance rates, where every little bit counts. You should check with your insurance agent to see if you are eligible.
Of course, the best strategy for avoiding a ticket is to drive safely in the first place, but we are all human and make mistakes. Thankfully, you can do something about it instead of being left out to dry. A defensive driving course may not only dismiss your ticket and lower your car insurance rates, but also teach you safe driving techniques that'll help you avoid violations in the future.