How to Take a Defensive Driving School in California
Why would you take a defensive driving course? Maybe you had the bad luck of getting a ticket or maybe you just want to bring down your auto insurance rate. In either case, attending a traffic school in California is going to save you time, money and a stress headache. If you are eligible for a traffic school course in California, you may be able to remove a point from your license, dodge the stiff fines for a traffic violation or take the class voluntarily to lower your auto insurance rates.
To take a defensive driving class voluntarily, contact your insurance provider to see if you are eligible for reductions. If you elect to enroll in a traffic school for a speeding ticket or similar misdemeanor, the California DMV will send you a notice in the mail to confirm your eligibility. Eligible drivers can then select the kind of traffic school they would like to attend and enjoy the benefits.
Who can attend traffic school in California?
You don’t need a court order to sign up for a defensive driving school in California, but you may need to contact your insurance agent. Different service providers have separate sets of eligibility requirements, sometimes by policy, so you will need to confirm that you qualify for a reduction.
Alternatively, if you are taking a driver improvement course to expunge a violation from your records, you will receive notice of your eligibility in the mail. Traffic school-eligible drivers:
- Have not attended traffic school in the last 18 months.
- Do not have an alcohol-related violation.
- Have a valid drivers license.
- Must not have driven over 25 mph above the speed limit, if speeding.
- Must have a traffic violation that counts as only one point on the license.
If you receive a notification of your eligibility for a driving safety course, you have to plead guilty to the ticket and choose to enroll in a state-licensed traffic school. You may notify the court of your choice by phone or email. You may also attend court and notify the district in person, but you will have to pay an administrative fee if you choose that option. Additionally, if you are notified of your eligibility and choose not to attend the course, your insurance and driving record will be impacted.
There are several kinds of California DMV traffic schools that an eligible driver may choose from, but a busy person may find an online option more convenient. Defensive driving courses online, such as the California Online Traffic School Course, can be completed from home and on the driver’s timeline rather than scheduled as a weekly class or weekend commitment.
Note: Traffic school cannot be used to expunge traffic violations on a commercial drivers license or one committed in a commercial vehicle.
Types of Defensive Driving Courses in California
The three kinds of driver improvement programs in California are classroom courses, home study courses and internet courses. They are available as both four-hour and eight-hour courses, and completion certificates will be provided by the school. The defensive driving course will either send the certificate to the driver to report to the DMV or keep as a record, or it will forward the certificate straight to the California DMV on the driver’s behalf. It is common for online traffic schools like iDriveSafely.com to remove the middle-man and send the completion certificate straight to the DMV.
Most other traffic courses in California, especially the defensive driving online courses, do not have timers. They can be completed as quickly as the driver can correctly answer the questions.
Classroom vs. Online Traffic School in California
Though most people would likely find a California defensive driving class online course allows them the greatest convenience, there are perks to the other kinds of traffic schools. For example, a classroom course allows the students to interact with the instructor. When compared, there are some significant differences between the three:
|Classroom Courses||Internet Courses||Home Study Courses|
|8-hour requirement||No timer||No timer|
|Held on the weekends||Can be taken at any time||Can be studied at any time|
|Finish the whole course at once||Can be completed at once or in increments||Can be completed at once or in increments|
|Primarily video content||Available as text, video or audio||Text-only|
|Can interact with instructor||Customer service, but no instructor||No interactivity|
The best online traffic schools have been popular, state-licensed choices for almost a decade. However, some people still have reservations about online courses or certain specific providers. If you have asked “Is iDriveSafely legit?”, be assured that iDrivesafely.com and its peers is are all state-approved and perfectly legitimate.
How to Enroll in a California Defensive Driving School
Before officially enrolling in a California driver safety program, report to the court or your insurance company that you plan to attend a traffic course. In traffic schools for a ticket, you have 90 days to enroll in and complete a course.
Pay your fees to the county court for an approval of your traffic school request. To confirm your enrollment in a defensive driving course, you need a:
- Copy of your traffic citation.
- State-issued identification.
- Case or citation number.
The same enrollment information is required by all traffic schools. Once you have selected the traffic school where you will enroll, you may sign up online or by phone.
Benefits of Completing Traffic School in California
- Prevent a ticket from showing on your driving record.
- Avoid increases on your auto insurance premiums.
- Remove a point from your drivers license.
- Obtain a car insurance discount.
- Learn safe driving knowledge and skills.
Prevent a Ticket From Showing on Your Driving Record
While a ticket in California will not be dismissed because the driver attended a California DMV traffic school online, it will be hidden from the driving record. Taking a speeding ticket class hides the misdemeanor from the record, although it does not dismiss the ticket. By masking the infraction, drivers can avoid insurance hikes.
Avoid Increases on Your Auto Insurance Premiums
California does offer driver safety course insurance discounts. However, if you have a ticket, taking a course also allows drivers to avoid penalty fees from their insurance company. The points and infraction added to your record will not be apparent to your current insurance provider or to the provider of a future policy.
Obtain a Car Insurance Discount
Without a ticket, eligible drivers can take an insurance reduction course to claim an insurance reduction from their insurance company. The terms of the discount are determined by the insurance company.
Learn Safe Driving Knowledge and Skills
For all of its benefits, driver improvement schools are intended to teach drivers how to be safe and competent on the road. Even if you don’t have a ticket, take a safe driving class to refresh your knowledge of good driving habits to avoid getting one.
California Defensive Driving Class Curriculum Details
DMV defensive driving courses in California are third-party providers licensed by the state, and there is no standard curriculum shared between them. Part of this is because courses are approved independently by each county. However, there are a few general topics that are covered by all defensive driving course locations. These include:
- Drug and alcohol abuse, and why you should not drive under the influence.
- Overviews of California road laws and safe driving practices.
- Vehicle maintenance.
- A course exam that the student must pass to receive course credit.
Should students have the need, iDriveSafely allows drivers to retake the final test. While the courses are made to be easy to understand and fun to learn, one additional retest is allowed for those who do not make the required 70 percent on the first test.
California Defensive Driving Certificates
The defensive driving certificate is the official verification provided to students after they finish their defensive driving course. In California, each licensed third-party traffic school has its own certificate, and it will be supplied at the end of the course. From a defensive driving school online, this certificate may be available as an email or downloadable file, while a classroom course may provide a paper form.
Some companies, such as iDriveSafely, will forward verification to the California DMV on the driver’s behalf. This saves the student the time and headache of presenting his or her certificate to the court, but he or she should still follow up to make sure that the completion is reflected in the driving record.
California Traffic School vs. Drivers Education
When selecting the best California traffic school, it is important to distinguish between defensive driving classes and drivers education. Where drivers ed is intended to help new drivers prepare for their learners permit or license, traffic school is designed for current license holders. The content covered in the two programs is widely different, and attending a drivers ed course does not come with any of the benefits available from defensive driving training.
California Defensive Driving Course Fees
To find the lowest price traffic school in California, drivers will need to shop around the courses available in their county. As all courses are provided by third parties, the products and subsequent fees vary.