How Does Traffic School Work?

By Karina C. Hernandez - Updated March 02, 2018
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Attending traffic school, whether in the comfort of your home or in a classroom, can reduce the impact of moving violations on your driving record and automobile insurance. Completion of a traffic school course can also reduce the number of points against your driver's license, which in turn prevents an insurance premium hike. Benefits, eligibility for traffic school and traffic school programs vary by state and the circumstances of your driving violation.

Tip

Most states allow you to take traffic school either online or in a classroom, and a course generally lasts between four and 12 hours. Confirm that the course you choose is state-approved for your infraction.

What Traffic School Does for Tickets

Many states offer state-wide programs that defer or dismiss traffic tickets if you attend traffic school. The requirements for such programs vary by state and each state sets limits, such as the number of times or how often you can use traffic school to defer or dismiss tickets. A traffic ticket deferral, also known as an infraction deferral program, involves paying a higher fee than the speeding ticket fee, but can allow you to avoid points against your driver's license and avoid a traffic conviction. A traffic court may also be willing to reduce your fine with the completion of an acceptable traffic school course. You must check with the court clerk in the jurisdiction where the infraction occurred to find out what traffic school will accomplish for your particular ticket.

Traffic School Can Reduce Points

In some states, such as Idaho and New Jersey, traffic school doesn't help dismiss or defer a ticket, but it can reduce the number of points that go on your driving record. Most states use a point system against driving records. The more points on your record, the more costly your insurance, as the point system is used to track bad driving. Excessive points can also lead to the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. Although a ticket will appear on your driving record, offsetting the points from your record can help you avoid a costly insurance increase.

Qualifying for Traffic School

You may opt for traffic school, also known as defensive driving. A court might also require you to complete a course as part of your penalty for a driving violation, depending on the severity of your offense. The severity of your violation also can limit your chances of using traffic school to lessen your penalties. For example, an excessive speed that surpasses a certain limit, or committing an even more serious violation, can render you ineligible for traffic school. To determine whether your infraction qualifies for traffic school, contact the court clerk in the county where the violation took place.

Online Traffic School

Online traffic school allows you to work at home at your own pace and receive a certificate of completion for you to submit to your traffic court or insurance company. Some drivers may find online or on-demand driving school more convenient that attending an in-class course that take several consecutive hours to complete.

Average Cost of Traffic School

The cost of traffic school is relatively inexpensive when you consider the ancillary costs of tickets, such as surcharges and insurance premium increases for the next several years. For example, in California, a ticket can end up costing anywhere from 5 to 35 percent more than the fine itself due to these added costs. The cost of traffic schools can vary widely. Depending on a few factors, including state, in-class or online formats, and the organization offering the course, it can cost anywhere between $15 and $100. Online courses, which can range from $15 to $40, are typically less expensive then in-class courses due to the school's lower overhead cost.

About the Author

Karina C. Hernandez is a licensed real estate agent since 2004 in San Diego. She has written legal articles pertaining to housing and real estate for multiple internet channels over the past 10 years. She has a B.A. in English from UCLA.

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