In most states, a driver who has been ticketed for a moving violation can keep that violation off their driving record by completing a traffic safety course. The main advantage of this course is that you can be guaranteed to get the violation wiped out. By contrast, if you go to trial, you will not be guaranteed a certain outcome. Even if you think that you have a strong defense, the judge or jury will not necessarily see the situation the same way. A driver may need to make the decision of whether to request traffic school or fight the ticket at the outset of the case. Many states do not allow a driver to change their mind and request traffic school partway through the process. They also may not be able to request traffic school if the judge has ruled against them.
By getting a violation wiped out through traffic school, you can help keep your insurance premiums at a manageable level. The erased violation also will not add any points to your license, so you will not face an increased risk of having your license suspended based on accumulating too many points. Another, more obvious advantage of going to traffic school is that you may learn practical tips that help you become a safer driver.
Eligibility for Traffic School
These may depend on the state and even the specific court that authorizes you to complete traffic school. In general, though, a driver cannot commit violations repeatedly and simply go back to traffic school each time to get them wiped out. You may be able to use traffic school once a year, or you may need to wait 18 months to two years before you can use it again. Tickets involving extreme speeding sometimes cannot be erased through this option.
You may need to formally request traffic school from a judge in person, but more often you can sign up for it through the court clerk. Traffic school requires paying a certain fee, and some states require a driver to pay the fine as well. In those states, traffic school only avoids having the conviction on your record. In other states, the court will dismiss the case when it receives proof that a driver has successfully completed traffic school. The driver will not need to pay the fine in those states.
Traffic school usually lasts for about six to eight hours. It can be expensive, and the double payment for the fine and traffic school can be daunting for drivers who live in states that use this system. For drivers in states that wipe out the fine as well as the record, the cost of traffic school may be balanced by not needing to pay the fine.
Online Traffic School Programs
California and a few other states allow drivers to complete a traffic school program online. A driver will need to complete tests and otherwise interact with the program to verify that they are proceeding through it. However, not every online traffic school program will be accepted by a court. You should make sure that your local court approves a specific online program before paying the fee for it.