How to Take a Defensive Driving Course in Washington
Enrolling in a defensive driving course in Washington may be your best option in mitigating a traffic citation. It may also help you save money by reducing your car insurance premium. Whether you are mandated by court or voluntarily choose to attend, traffic school programs can help you become a more responsible driver. While the Department of Licensing (DOL) regulates defensive driving programs, local courts throughout the state may approve different courses for ticket deferral.
Before you can take advantage of the benefits of enrolling in a defensive driving school in WA, you will need to meet certain eligibility requirements and receive approval from your local court and/or auto insurance company. Then, you will be able to enroll in a course online or at a nearby school. While a classroom provides an interactive environment, it may be more convenient to complete a defensive driving course online from the comfort of your own home. To learn more about the types of courses available, read the sections below.
Who can attend traffic school in Washington?
Generally, any resident can enroll in a WA traffic school. However, a motorist must meet specific requirements according to his or her circumstance and request permission to obtain certain benefits. For instance, to fulfill a court requirement, drivers must state their intention to complete a course when attending a court hearing. Courts will typically determine a drivers eligibility based upon his or her type of conviction and driving record.
Additionally, a driver must contact his or her court to attend defensive driving school in lieu of a traffic ticket. To defer a traffic citation, certain qualifications must also be met. For example, a driver must not have any other citations pending. In Clark County, drivers cannot have a commercial driver’s license and enroll in a traffic school course. Thus, motorists who would like to receive a discount on their monthly insurance rates must contact their insurance provider. Once appropriate permission has been granted, residents can enroll in a DMV-approved traffic school.
Benefits of Completing Traffic School in Washington
There are various benefits to defensive driving school in Washington, whether you receive a court order or voluntarily choose to complete a course. For instance, you can keep your driving record clear and save money on auto insurance premiums. Depending on your circumstance, you may be eligible to:
- Fulfill a court order.
- Defer a traffic ticket.
- Obtain a car insurance discount.
- Learn safe driving knowledge and skills.
Fulfill a Court Order
After committing a traffic violation, you may be ordered by your court to complete a defensive driving course in Washington. The course you will be referred to take will depend on the severity of your offense and whether you are a habitual violator. Attending traffic school may allow reduction of any penalties and fees. You will typically be given a designated period to complete your course and submit your defensive driving certificate in order to satisfy this requirement.
Defer a Traffic Ticket
While you cannot enroll in driving classes to remove points from your record, you may prevent a court from reporting an infraction to the DOL, which can negatively affect your driving record. When receiving a traffic ticket, contact your court before your appearance date and request a deferment. In Everett County, you must respond to a notice of infraction within 15 days. You will only be eligible to defer a ticket by attending defensive driving school if you meet the following qualifications:
- You do not have any other pending citations.
- You have not deferred a traffic ticket in the past seven years.
- Your traffic ticket is for a minor moving violation.
- You do not hold a commercial driver’s license.
Obtain a Car Insurance Discount
You may also receive an auto insurance discount by voluntarily attending WA traffic school. However, it is important to check if your insurance company offers this discount before enrolling in an insurance reduction course. Overall, you do not have to meet a particular deadline to obtain this benefit.
Learn Safe Driving Knowledge and Skills
A WA driver improvement course is the best way to advance your driving skills and learn valuable defensive driving tips to prevent traffic accidents and violations in the future. During the program, you will be refreshed on state traffic laws, highway safety and emergencies related to driving.
Types of Defensive Driving Courses in Washington
There are several defensive driving courses in Washington that are offered through third-party establishments. After receiving a traffic ticket for the first time, you will most likely be referred by your local court to complete a four-hour course. If you are a repeating offender and have already taken a course, you will most likely receive a court order to complete an eight-hour course. To receive an auto insurance discount, you will need to apply for a voluntary driver improvement course.
In addition to these courses, you may be eligible to enroll in a mature driver program if you are 55 years of age or older. This collision prevention course will teach you how age-related physical changes can affect your driving and how you can appropriately adapt to these changes. By enrolling in a course directed to seniors, you can update your knowledge of the rules of the road while receiving an auto insurance discount.
Classroom vs. Online Traffic School in Washington
Depending on your preference, you may enroll in a WA defensive driving course online or in person. Simply check with your municipal court to see if your traffic school is approved. There are various online courses approved by local courts throughout the state, including iDriveSafely, which will allow you to complete lessons at your own pace.
Online traffic school may be best suited for you if you have a busy schedule that conflicts with traditional classroom hours. You can study whenever and wherever you want, as long as you have an internet connection. On the other hand, you may benefit from a more interactive learning environment by taking a course with a real-life instructor. Keep in mind that classroom courses generally tend to be more expensive than a defensive driving class online.
How to Enroll in a Washington Defensive Driving School
Before drivers can enroll in Washington defensive driving school, they must submit a request for approval to their county court or car insurance provider. There are several factors that are taken into account when being reviewed by a municipal court. Depending on a driver’s conviction and driving history, he or she may or may not be eligible to partake in a driver improvement program.
Upon approval, drivers can research schools available in their area and via the internet. When comparing programs, motorists must consider the pricing of each course and the benefits that each one offers. For example, iDriveSafely allows drivers to retake their final exam as many times as possible until they reach a passing score. The process of applying to these driver improvement programs is fairly easy and does not take too long to complete online.
Washington Defensive Driving Class Curriculum Details
If you plan to enroll in a WA defensive driving class, you can expect to learn about a variety of topics related to operating a vehicle safely. While curriculums vary by school, most classes provide similar instruction to help drivers enhance their driving knowledge and skills. These topics generally include:
- State traffic laws
- Defensive driving techniques
- The dangers of impaired driving
- Highway safety
- Vehicle maintenance
Additionally, you can expect to take a final exam upon completing traffic school. Most programs consist of lesson plans and quizzes containing information that you can study for the exam. The amount of material covered in these driver improvement programs will also depend on the length of the course you are enrolled in. All in all, you will learn helpful information that can improve your driving and help you prevent hazardous situations on the road.
Washington Defensive Driving Certificates
In order to receive WA traffic school benefits, drivers must submit their defensive driving certificate of completion to their municipal court or auto insurance agent. This certificate is given to motorists who have completed a state-approved driver improvement course and passed their final exams. All drivers taking a course to fulfill a court requirement or defer a traffic ticket must check with their court to find out how certificates are submitted. Depending on each court’s requirements, a resident may be able to submit his or her certificate online, by mail or in person.
Washington Traffic School vs. Drivers Education
Often confused with driver’s education, traffic school in Washington offers a different type of program. Overall, driver’s ed is tailored to new, inexperienced motorists who need to learn and practice the fundamentals of driving. On the other hand, defensive driving school serves as a refresher course to help improve the driving skills of current license holders.
Typically, these motorists practice unsafe driving habits and have committed traffic violations. Therefore, the topics covered in driver improvement programs aim to provide helpful tips on how these drivers can avoid accidents and violations in the future. While each course serves a distinct purpose, both programs can be taken to help reduce the costs of auto insurance.
Washington Defensive Driving Course Fees
If you are wondering how much traffic school in Washington costs, prices can vary by school and course. While four-hour courses can range between $25 and $45, eight-hour courses generally cost between $50 and $80. In general, courses typically do not cost more than $100.
Furthermore, it is easier to find a cheap defensive driving course online than in person at a nearby school. Before enrolling in a program, it is important for you to evaluate whether the cost of traffic school outweighs what you will be saving on car insurance. Additionally, you may save more by completing a course rather than having to pay court fines and fees.