The consequences of traffic tickets can go beyond merely having to pay a fine. With court costs and fees, the amount you have to pay for a ticket can reach hundreds of dollars. And traffic ticket convictions on your driving record can lead to increased insurance costs, demerit points on your driving record, and eventually license suspension. Fortunately, most states have traffic school programs that eligible drivers can participate in to avoid some or all of the penalties and consequences of a traffic ticket.
Traffic school (which is also called "driver improvement," "defensive driving," and other similar names) is simply an educational course in traffic laws and safety. These courses might last anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on state guidelines.
Traffic school courses used to all be in a classroom setting where participants would have to attend in person. However, online and remote traffic school programs are probably more common now than in-person classes. With most traffic school programs, participants must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the class subject matter by passing some sort of test at the end. Participants in online traffic school typically have to pass short quizzes after each unit of the program rather than one long test at the very end. But not to worry, if you don't pass a test or quiz, you usually get to keep trying until you do pass.
Traffic school normally costs somewhere in the range of $50 to a few hundred dollars.
After finishing a traffic school course, the attendee will generally receive a certificate of completion. The attendee might need to submit the certificate to the court or DMV. In some states, traffic school completion certificates are automatically sent by the program provider to the court or appropriate agency.
It would be nice if you could always avoid the consequences of a traffic citation by taking traffic school. But, of course, that's not how it works. In order to get the benefits of traffic school, you need to be eligible. Eligibility limitations often include:
Most traffic school restrictions fall into one of these three categories. But the laws of every state are different and so too are the eligibility requirements and restrictions for traffic school (a few states don't have traffic school at all).
Traffic school and defensive driving courses are designed to help drivers establish safer driving habits. But to encourage attendance, nearly every state has laws offering benefits to those who complete traffic school courses. The benefits of traffic school might include:
Again, these types of traffic school benefits will be available only to eligible drivers who complete an appropriate course.