Driving school is no longer just for teens learning how to drive, and it doesn’t always require long hours in classrooms. Although driving schools such as DriversEd.com offer traditional new-driver training, they also offer convenient online courses that can help you lower your insurance rates or get a ticket masked, preventing points from being counted on your California driving record. The key to choosing an online driving school is understanding which one fits your personal needs and lifestyle.
Why Driving School Matters
When you get a driver’s license in California, you start with a perfect or clean record. If you are convicted of violations, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) adds “points” to your driving record. If you accumulate enough points, your license may be suspended. While points are not permanent, it may take three to ten years for them to be removed from your driving record. During this period, you will pay higher insurance premiums and risk having your license suspended if you commit additional violations. The good news, though, is that you can have points masked from your driving record by volunteering to take an approved course at a driving school licensed by the DMV. Even better, taking a defense driving course voluntarily, even if you don’t have points on your license, may reduce your insurance premiums.
Not all tickets result in points on your license. If you let a parking meter expire, or a license plate light burn out, you may get a ticket or a warning, but the major penalties are reserved for dangerous driving. If you drive slightly faster than the speed limit, don’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign, make an illegal U-turn, or commit similar traffic law violations, you will get a single point on your license. Two points are assigned for serious offenses such as street racing, drunk driving, driving over 100 miles per hour, killing another driver or pedestrian, or hit-and-run incidents.
Points and Time Periods
In penalizing you for traffic violations, California takes into account not only the severity of the violation, but how many violations you accumulate. If you get two points in a year, you will get a warning letter, but if you accumulate three points in a single year, the DMV will send you a Notice of Intent to Suspend, which informs you that one more point may cause your license to be revoked. If you get four points within a single year, your license may be suspended. This is where driving school can make a huge difference. As the experts at TrafficSchool101.com explain, you can get one ticket masked if you complete a course by a date you agreed upon with the traffic court. What this means is that although the point remains in the DMV database, it doesn’t actually count towards your point total and it isn’t visible to insurance companies or anyone outside the DMV.
Driving Lessons and Insurance Costs
Insurance companies have their own systems for evaluating accident risk. Although they don’t correspond precisely to the point system used by the DMV, California does report violations to your insurance company, and, in general, any citations that add points too your license will cause your insurance rates to go up. That’s the bad news. The good news is that driving lessons can reduce your insurance costs. If you have a violation masked by taking a driving course, that violation will not affect your insurance rates. Even better, if you are a safe driver with no violations, you can get additional discounts by taking defensive driving course. Some companies, such as iDriveSafely.com, offer courses specifically geared to young drivers or drivers older than 55, which can result in substantial savings.
To actually get the full benefits of driving school, in terms of reducing insurance costs and possibly having points masked from your record, you need to choose a school that is licensed by the California DMV. It’s a good idea to choose a school with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau such as GoToTrafficSchool.com, for an extra level of confidence in the school’s ability to provide first-rate customer service. Licensed traffic violator schools submit your certificate of completion automatically to the California DMV to get points masked from your license as quickly as possible.
Online Traffic Violators School Courses
Online courses allow you to complete all the requirements for California traffic violator’s courses in the convenience of your own home at a time that suits your individual schedule. You can choose between inexpensive text-based courses or more user-friendly six- to eight-hour video courses in which you watch live actors or animations explain driving safety. Once you have completed your reading or watching, you take a short multiple-choice text, and if you pass, the school sends a certificate of completion to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Choosing the Right Course for You
People have different learning styles. If you can assimilate information just by reading and taking a basic practice test, many online schools offer bargain-rate packages as low as $19.95, for both traffic violator and defensive driving courses. Many people, though, find it hard to concentrate on dry, technical material. In that case, you might choose Improv Traffic School, which offers entertaining courses compiled by top Hollywood comedy writers.
As you compare traffic schools, use the following checklist to make sure you are finding the right school for your needs:
- Is the school certified by the California DMV?
- Is the school rated by the Better Business Bureau?
- How much does the course you need cost?
- Is the course offered in a format that works for you?
- Does the school offer 24-hour technical support?
- How quickly does the school process completion certificates?