Traffic school costs & what to expect
Traffic school is a broad term that can mean different things depending on your state but they share a commonality, which is teaching safe(r) driving. In many cases, it is used to describe a class or program that is taken as a result of moving traffic violations in order to reduce a sentence, reinstate a license or remove points from a driving record. Less frequently, a defensive driving course is taken voluntarily to simply improve one’s skills or to attempt to earn a discount on car insurance.
Much like almost every other aspect of traffic laws and the DUI process, the requirements and standards for traffic school vary by state. If you are charged with multiple moving traffic violations or one or more severe violations (such as a DUI), you may find yourself ordered to “go to traffic school.” In most cases, this means taking a class or set of classes that teach safer or defensive driving practices through various methods.
Online Traffic School: In increasing number of states, such as Arizona, Alaska, California, Texas
Iowa, etc., offer online versions of the class that you can take from home. The course could be audible where you would listen to someone giving instructions or a lecture, text-based where you simply read as if it were a text-book, video-based where the instructions might come with animations or clips that teach techniques or any combination of the above. You might take a final exam or be given various smaller exams throughout to demonstrate successful completion of the course.
Classroom Course: In nearly all states, you can also take a classroom version. You would pick a class based on the offered times that fit your schedule. You would be given the class by an instructor, and at the end take an exam to determine if you completed the course successfully or not.
DVD/On Demand: A DVD is sent by mail or a streaming service that offers the video is used. The participant watches the video and may either be mailed an exam to complete or can go into an authority to take the exam for completion of the course.
The cost to take the course generally cost between $20 and $50, depending on where you’re taking it and the type of class, but that cost is often offset by the incentives to taking the class. In some cases, participating in the class can reduce or remove the fine for the violation that preceded needing to take the class. In some cases, it may remove points from your driving record, which could have a positive impact on your insurance payments, saving money in the long run. An indirect form of savings would be it enabling you to have your license re-instated which could translate to savings on transportation costs. Many states will offer more than one version so with a little research you should be able to find the lowest price traffic school.
Traffic school frequently asked questions (FAQs):
Why should I take a traffic school course?
If available to you, a traffic school course can prevent a ticket and/or points from being applied to your driving record. That means it will also prevent your insurance company from being notified, keeping your rates from increasing.
What happens if you choose traffic school?
In some cases traffic school is offered but not ordered. If you elect to take and successfully complete the course before the deadline given, the conviction for which you’re taking it will appear on your record in a confidential or sealed manner. No points will be applied to your record. Just keep in mind that this is only the case when you have the court’s permission. Simply taking the course will not get you out of any ticket.
How often can you attend traffic school?
There is a limit based on each state’s discretion about how often you can take a traffic school course to hide violations from your record. A year or two is a common duration that must pass between each instance.
Does traffic school help my insurance rate?
Yes, under certain conditions. It can help by preventing a violation from being reported to your insurance company, which keeps your insurance rates from spiking. It can also be used proactively to get a discount on your rates. However, the course must be state-licensed and your insurance-provided must offer this discount and you must be eligible.
If I go to traffic school, do I still get points on my license?
If the court says you are eligible and you successfully complete traffic school before the deadline imposed, you will not have any points applied to your record.
If attend traffic school, do I still have to pay a fine?
It depends on your state, whether or not your fine will be reduced or possibly eliminated upon successful completion of traffic school. You will, however, still have to pay a court fee and the cost of traffic school.
I have a Commercial Driver's License, am I able to take traffic school?
If you have a CDL, you will not be eligible for traffic school.