Traffic Ticket Options in Florida
Receiving a traffic ticket is probably not your most pleasant experience. Now that you have one, what are your options? What is Traffic School? How long do you have to make your decision? Should you "elect" to take a 4 hour Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course? Or should you just pay the fine and forget about it?
First, you need to consider the Points associated with your ticket and the financial consequences of accepting the Points. Points are important for two reasons.
- You receive Points for all moving violations in Florida. Any Points on your Drivers Record will cause you to loose your "SAFE DRIVER" status and typically causes your Insurance Rates to go up between 10% and 25% for three years. How much increase depends on your age, total points on your record and a few other factors.
- If you accumulate too many Points, your License will be suspended. Points stay on your record for 3 years. See our Points and Driving Privilege's Suspensions Page for how many points over a time period will cause your license to be suspended.
Now that we know why Points are important, you have three options available to you. You will need to make a decision about what you intend to do and notify the County Court within 30 days of receiving your citation.
|The 4 Hour Traffic School Class is Mandatory for a Red Light Ticket, Passing a Stopped School
Bus, Racing on a Highway (Participant or Spectator), and Reckless Driving .. see more
Option 1 -- Accept the Points and Pay the Full Fine
If you take this option, you will pay the full amount of the fine and the points associated with the citation go on your driving record for 36 months. Additionally, while you do not have to appear in Traffic Court, you are automatically adjudicated "Guilty".
Option 2 -- "Elect" to Attend a Defensive Driving School Class and receive Zero Points
Within 30 days of receiving your Citation, select the Defensive Driving School Option (commonly called Traffic School). This will notify the court you will be attending a Certified School like Nations to take your 4 hour Traffic Ticket Class (officially known as the 4 Hour BDI Class), adjudication is automatically "withheld" and no points are added to your record.
Florida gives you an added incentive for selecting the DDS Option. By State Law, attending a Traffic Safety School prohibits your insurance company from raising your rates or refusing to renew your policy if there was no accident.
Keep in mind, when you choose the Traffic School Option, you must attend and successfully complete the 4 hour traffic ticket class within 60 days of your citation. (Some Florida Counties permit 90 days - check with your County Courts Offices). Upon completion of the class, you simply provide the Completion Certificate to the Traffic Court.
Nations recommends you attend a Florida Traffic School Class within the first 30 days of receiving your ticket. This will allow you to pay the fine and provide a Defensive Driving School Course Completion Certificate with your payment.
Option 3 -- Go to Traffic Court
You notify the County within 30 days of your citation that you want to attend Traffic Court. On your scheduled day of Arraignment, you will have the opportunity to enter a Plea of "Not Guilty", "Guilty", or "No Contest". If you decide to plea "Not Guilty" at Arraignment, you return to court on another day for the judge to hear testimony from the Police Officer and yourself.
What is Traffic School?
The State of Florida has concluded that education offers the best method to reduce future traffic tickets and that an educated driver is a safer driver. To meet that commitment, Florida allows people who are ticketed for minor traffic offenses to:
- Pay the fine at the Clerk of the Courts Offices within 30 days.
- Plead "no contest" (adjudication is withheld) to the ticket, and
- Elect to attend a traffic school.
Traffic school for a ticket is a 4 hour program of instruction on driving safety and traffic laws offered by a state authorized school like Nations Traffic School. The Florida 4 hour basic driver improvement course is designed to refresh your knowledge of defensive driving techniques, safety, updated traffic laws, dangers of distracted driving, and DUI laws.
As an "election", Florida allows you to attend formal classes with an instructor or complete the driving course by an online self-study course. After successfully completing traffic school and submitting the completion certificate to the County Clerk of the Courts Office, "no points" are added to your driving record.
Traffic school can also be assigned by a judge if you decided to attend court and are adjudicated "guilty" or adjudication is "withheld". When adjudication is "withheld", the citation is not dismissed, but "no points" will be assessed on the condition that you complete your court ordered requirement in the time frame assigned by the judge.
Court ordered classes may be the 4 hour class, but could also be the 8 hour class, the 8 hour aggressive driving class or 12 hour advanced driving course. When court ordered, traffic school is no longer an option, but is now a requirement to maintain your driving privileges and typically requires attendance in a classroom.
Why Choose Traffic School?
Attending a Traffic School is your smartest choice financially. Accepting the Points will cause most insurance companies to raise your rates from 10% to 25%, and you will continue to pay that increase for 3 years.
Consider this. If you currently pay $100 per month for insurance and your rates are increased 15%, you will pay an additional $180.00 per year. Over the 3 year period the Points stay on your driving record, it will cost you $540.00 or more in additional insurance payments. That is generally more than the actual fine!
Elect Defensive Driving School Option -- It's the smart choice! Don't compound your financial costs when you receive a ticket. Attending a 4 hour DDS class saves your Florida "SAFE DRIVER" Status, plus Florida Law guarantees your insurance rates can not be increased because of your traffic ticket .. if there was no collision. If there was a collision, call your Insurance Company. Many will raise your rates less if you go to a class, plus you get the benefit of no points being added to your record.