How to Take a Defensive Driver Course in Alabama
Enrollment in an Alabama defensive driving course is a useful tool for local drivers who are facing minor traffic violations. Most traffic violations result in a ticket and point accumulation on a driving record. Rather than face these consequences, traffic school allows eligible drivers to dismiss their citations. It also enables these drivers to avoid an increase to their auto insurance rates and learn better driving practices for the future.
Unlike driver’s education, these classes do not involve any hands-on training. Instead, students focus on relearning the local road laws and defensive maneuvers. Courses like these are mostly available at local municipal locations. However, certain counties allow drivers to take advantage of online courses for extra convenience. To access all of the benefits from one of these classes, offenders must request permission from the courts to enroll, and submit a certificate of completion. The following guide covers everything drivers need to know about registering for a defensive driving course online or in a nearby facility.
Who can attend traffic school in Alabama?
Eligibility for AL driver improvement courses is determined on a case-by-case basis. In general, any resident can enroll in a defensive driving course online if they choose. However, drivers across the state who face traffic violations can only participate in a course to dismiss their citations if they meet certain qualifications. It is the local district court’s responsibility to outline the specifics and review each driver’s eligibility, so policies often vary by location. For example, courts in Morgan County state that only certain minor traffic violations make drivers eligible for a course. This includes speeding, disregarding a red traffic light or stop sign, improper passing and improper lane changing.
Participation in a driving safety course is not mandatory, and it is the responsibility of the individual driver to enroll if he or she wishes. However, all drivers must get permission from the court reviewing the case to do so. The court must also approve the particular course a driver seeks enrollment in. Common reasons that courts reject this request include when a driver:
- Currently holds a commercial driver license (CDL).
- Already completed a driver improvement program within the last two years.
- Commits a traffic violation that does not qualify for a course.
- Has a previous DUI conviction.
Types of Defensive Driving Courses in Alabama
For drivers who want to enroll in an approved DMV traffic school in AL, there are a few different options available. Though taking a course is voluntary, the courts must decide the type of class a driver takes, based on his or her driving record and the current offense. While most approved courses are administered at local municipal facilities and schools, it is also possible for drivers to enroll in defensive driving online with approved third-party programs. The following courses are available in most counties throughout the state:
- Level 1. Level 1 of the driver safety program refers to a four-hour course. This is generally assigned to first-time offenders or drivers with no more than one moving violation in a certain period.
- Level 2. The Level 2 course is eight hours in length, and is typically assigned to drivers with previous minor offenses. Depending on the district a driver lives in, the specific eligibility requirements for this course may vary. In some areas, like Madison County, this course is for drivers who already completed the Level 1 course within the last two years. Alternately, areas like Morgan County only allow drivers to take this course if they did not complete DMV traffic school in the past two years, and have no more than two recent citations.
- Alive at 25. This class is similar to the Level 1 course. However, it is aimed at drivers younger than 25 who commit their first minor traffic violation.
- Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving: This course is only offered in a few counties, and focuses on forming positive attitudes and behaviors while driving. Students spend time relearning road rules, but also focus on how negative behaviors affect their driving.
Classroom vs. Online Traffic School in Alabama
Depending on your location and the type of course you need, you may have the option to take a defensive driving class online instead of in a traditional classroom. While they typically cover the same information, online courses provide several additional benefits that in-person courses do not. For example, the third party website iDriveSafely provides a popular course for local drivers. This course is convenient and court-approved in many districts, including Dale and Covington County.
In-classroom defensive courses require drivers to visit one of the defensive driving school locations regularly. This can quickly become an inconvenience for those with full time jobs or irregular schedules. It also requires all students to learn at the same pace, in order to complete the coursework within the designated time frame.
With iDriveSafely’s best online traffic school in AL, drivers can complete the 8-hour course from anywhere and any device when it is most convenient. The material is organized into short chapters for easy digestion, and students are able to go at their own pace, starting and stopping as needed. The course also includes a mix of written and visual content such as videos, audio clips and graphics to help engage individuals of all learning types. Most importantly, students can retake the tests as many times as needed until they pass.
How to Enroll in an Alabama Defensive Driving School
The enrollment process for DMV approved traffic school in AL depends on whether you are taking an in-person or online class. The most important step to remember is not to pay your ticket or enter a guilty plea if you plan to enroll. Once you plead guilty for an offense, you are no longer eligible to dismiss the case through a defensive course.
If you want to enroll in a defensive driving school online like iDriveSafely, the enrollment process is completed on the website. All you need to do is locate the right course, select a delivery method for your certificate and enter your payment information. However, whether you enroll in person or online, you must follow these steps before you register if you want to dismiss your case:
- Contact the court to request enrollment before your court date. Many district courts require at least five days’ notice for these requests. You may need to fulfill this requirement through the Office of Alternative Sentencing and Release (OSAR), or the office of the judge overseeing your case, depending on the county you live in.
- Receive approval to take a course. Some county courts may require you to appear in court to get final approval on you eligibility. Either way, you must enroll in the course type the judge assigns you for it to qualify.
- Pay the enrollment fee, and additional court fees if necessary.
Once you pass the course, you must submit the defensive driving certificate of completion to the court. This step must be completed on or before the return court date. Failure to submit this certificate and pay any court fees can result in an arrest warrant.
Benefits of Completing Traffic School in Alabama
Completing traffic school for speeding tickets or other minor citations has several significant benefits. Overall, it can minimize some of the consequences that come with a traffic violation, by allowing you to:
- Dismiss your traffic ticket.
- Avoid point accrual on your record.
- Avoid an increase to your car insurance.
- Receive discounts on car insurance.
Courses like these also help you develop the skills and knowledge to become a safer driver. You can learn more about each of these benefits in the following sections.
Dismiss a Traffic Ticket
It is possible to go to AL driving school for speeding tickets and similar offenses in order to have the citation dismissed from your record. As previously mentioned, only certain situations are eligible, and you must not plead guilty if you want to take advantage of this option. Once you submit your certificate of completion, the court dismisses your case. You can attend classes in person or enroll in options like iDriveSafely’s approved online driving school for tickets that you need dismissed quickly.
Avoid Points on Your Driving Record
The DMV assigns a number of demerit points to different traffic offenses. These points accrue on your driving record and can eventually lead to license suspension or revocation if you obtain too many. Though you cannot take driving classes to remove points from your record in AL, you can take them to dismiss the points along with the ticket.
Avoid Increases on Your Auto Insurance Premiums
Taking traffic school online for tickets can also help you keep your insurance premiums from going up. When you receive a traffic ticket or cause an accident, these actions often cause your insurance rates to increase. However, some insurance companies agree to keep your rates the same if you submit proof that you completed a defensive course.
Obtain a Car Insurance Discount
Along with evading a rate increase, you may also be able to earn a driver safety course insurance discount from your insurance company. The exact discount you get from an insurance reduction course depends on the insurer. Some companies also have other eligibility requirements to fulfill as well.
Learn Safe Driving Knowledge and Skills
Along with using traffic school for ticket and point dismissal, these courses can also have lasting effects on your own driving. On one hand, a defensive course can serve as a refresher for the DMV’s rules of the road. On the other hand, you can also learn new techniques and practices through these courses that show you how to become a better and safer driver. These benefits can help you avoid future tickets and accidents in your vehicle.
Alabama Defensive Driving Class Curriculum Details
In DMV approved traffic school, students learn about a variety of topics related to safe driving. Courses typically cover topics such as:
- State traffic laws and regulations.
- Road signs.
- Defensive driving techniques.
- Ways to handle driving in serious weather conditions.
Throughout the course, instructors often administer tests to ensure that students are retaining the skills they learn. This ultimately leads to a final exam, which determines whether or not a student receives a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
The length of a particular defensive driving course in AL varies from program to program. Some classes may take up several hours over the course of a week or more. For iDriveSafely’s course, there is no set time schedule for course completion. You can log in and take the tests as many times as needed without penalty. However, it is important to keep any court-required time limits in mind.
Alabama Defensive Driving Certificates
A defensive driving course certificate is a document that verifies your completion of a driving course. If you pass the final exam, you receive this document at the end of the class. Taking an in-person course means that you instructor must provide you with this certificate. Alternately, when you register for the iDriveSafely DMV traffic school online, you get to choose how you receive your certificate. You can have it mailed or emailed to you for free, or expedite the shipping for an additional fee.
To use AL driver improvement school to dismiss a ticket, you must submit this document to the court as soon as possible. Once you have the document in your possession, it is your responsibility to submit it on time to the judge handling your case. Certificates are generally accepted by mail or in person at your county court office. If you submit before the deadline, you may be able to waive your final court date. However, if you fail to submit the certificate on time you can face serious consequences, including a warrant for your arrest.
Alabama Traffic School vs. Drivers Education
While there are similarities, driver improvement school and drivers education are two very different concepts. They serve different purposes and are not interchangeable. In particular, drivers ed is aimed at new drivers who are obtaining their licenses for the first time. These courses help students learn the very basics of driving and practice these skills, in order to prepare them for the road. Drivers ed is not mandatory in Alabama, but residents applying for their first license are highly encouraged to take one.
While the best traffic schools also cover some of the basics of driving, that is not their main purpose. Instead, students who take this class use it to build onto the foundation of their driving knowledge. Instructors assume they already know most of the basics, so the focus is on learning better and safer driving techniques. These courses may also cover proper crash procedures, state laws and explain how substances like alcohol affect driving abilities. Overall, drivers can greatly benefit from both defensive driving and drivers ed courses.
Alabama Defensive Driving Course Fees
The costs of DMV approved traffic school in AL vary based on the county and the type of course you are taking. Keep in mind that these prices are paid up front and do not include any court costs you owe. If you are a volunteer student or a senior citizen, you may be eligible for a discounted rate. You can expect prices for enrollment to fall within one of these ranges.
- The Level 1 course generally ranges from $25 to $125.
- The Level 2 course costs may vary between $50 and $150.
- The Alive at 25 course typically costs between $30 and $125.
Another benefit of completing a driver improvement course online with iDriveSafely is that the course charges you a flat fee, regardless of where you live. You can also choose to upgrade the course with a complete audio track or expedited certificate shipping for additional fees.