Traffic school is one of the best ways you can get a traffic ticket dismissed and keep your driving record clean. However, not every driver can take traffic school. It depends on a couple of factors, which we’ll be discussing below.
How do I know if I’m eligible for traffic school?
Your citation or reminder notice is the first place you can look to see if you’re eligible to take traffic school.
But in the simplest explanation, the best way to confirm your eligibility is to contact the court that issued you the ticket and ask them if you have the option to go to traffic school.
That’s because there’s no universal law that all states follow about this, so it will depend on the state and the county where you got your ticket.
Most states don’t really have a state-wide traffic school program, which makes it a bit tricky to choose a school to sign up for (though we have suggestions for the best online courses). However, individual courts mostly allow drivers to take a course in order to dismiss a ticket.
For states that do have a state-wide program, you would still have to check the specific requirements per state. But generally speaking, you may take traffic school if:
- You have a valid driver’s license
- You were driving a noncommercial vehicle when the offense occurred
- Your citation is an infraction that is a moving violation
Some states have a limit on how often a person can take a course in a certain time period. It’s 18 months for most states. There may also be a set of violations that don’t allow drivers to take defensive driving at all.
Some of the general violations that make you ineligible for traffic schools are the following:
- Non-moving violations like parking tickets
- You hold a commercial driver’s license
- Equipment-related offenses
- Alcohol or drug-related offenses
- Driving offenses that require a mandatory court appearance
Traffic School Requirements
Traffic schools are available in-person or online. While you can always opt for a classroom setting, most drivers nowadays will choose online traffic schools because it’s more convenient.
You may take a defensive driving course through a computer with an internet connection. Some traffic schools are mobile-friendly, so you may use your phone or tablet to take the course.
It’s not hard to sign up either. The only requirements are the following:
- A valid driver’s license
- Received an infraction for a moving violation
- The offense occurred while driving a noncommercial vehicle
- You did not take traffic school in the past 18 months
Once you’ve already signed up, you must complete the entire course and pass the final exam. Most schools may also allow you to re-take the exam multiple times, but remember to pay attention to the course material so you won’t have a hard time.
You can check our list of high-quality yet easy traffic schools online for some suggestions.
After you’ve passed your defensive driving course, you will need to inform the court of your completion. Some online traffic schools like the New York Safety Council and EZ AZ Traffic School will process the paperwork for you so there’s no hassle.
Once the court has confirmed your completion, your ticket will be dismissed and there will be no additional points on your driving record.
How often can you do traffic school?
For most states, courts may require a specific amount of time that should pass before you take traffic school the next time. In California, a driver can take a course only once every 18 months. But in Arizona, you can it once every 12 months.
This time frame is measured from the date you have received a previous traffic ticket to the date you received your recent one.
Once you have completed a course, your ticket will be dismissed and the points you would’ve earned would be kept off your public driving record.
We get asked a lot of questions about traffic schools, whether it’s for eligibility, requirements, and state-specific rules. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
How do I know if I’m eligible for traffic school in California?
You will know if you’re eligible for traffic school in California through the courtesy notice you received from the court. The notice will tell you if you’re qualified or not for traffic school. If the court has web services, you can also look up your ticket information on their website.
How do I know if I’m eligible for traffic school in Arizona?
You will know if you’re eligible for traffic school in Arizona if you haven’t taken a defensive driving course in the last 12 months and if your violation is in the list of offenses allowed to take traffic school.
How do I know if I’m eligible for traffic school in Tennessee?
You will know if you’re eligible to take traffic school in Tennessee if you have a non-commercial Tennessee driver’s license, your violation is not a major one, and your license has not been revoked or suspended.
How do you ask a judge for traffic school?
You can ask a judge for traffic school in one of four ways – through the court website, by phone, by sending a request letter through the mail, or in-person with the court clerk. After the judge has granted your request, you can now sign up for a defensive driving course.
Can I go to traffic school after I pay for my ticket?
You can go to traffic school after you’ve paid your ticket and if your request to take a course has been granted by the judge. The court will give you a due date which is the deadline for you to complete a course.
What speeding ticket will not be eligible to attend traffic school?
A speeding ticket will not be eligible to attend traffic school if the citation states that you were going above 25 mph over the posted speed limit.
While the requirements for most traffic schools, including the cheapest options, are minimal, it may be tricky to determine if you are allowed to take a course. It will still depend on the state or even the county.
So while our reminders above provide a good start, the best thing you can do to truly confirm your eligibility for traffic school is to contact the court that issued you the ticket.
You can also read our primer on how traffic schools operate.