Receiving a traffic ticket is probably not your most pleasant experience. Now that you have one, what are your options? What is Traffic School? Should you "elect" to take the 4-Hour Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course to have the Points withheld from your record? Or should you just pay the fine and forget about it? How long do you have to make your decision?
First, you need to consider the Points associated with your ticket and the financial consequences of accepting the Points.
If you take this option, you will pay the full amount of the fine within 30 days. Additionally, if you do not "Elect" to attend the 4 Hour BDI / Defensive Driver Improvement Course, the points associated with the citation go on your driving record for 36 months and while you do not have to appear in Traffic Court, you are automatically adjudicated "Guilty".
Within 30 days of receiving your Citation, select the Defensive Driving School (DDS) 'Election Option' (commonly called Traffic School). This will notify the court you will be:
Keep in mind, when you choose the Traffic School Election Option, you need to complete the 4 hour class within 60 days of your "Election". (Some Florida Counties permit 90 days - check with your County Courts Offices). If you complete your 4 hour class as an "Election" thru Nations, we electronically transmit your Completion Certificate through the Florida DMV to the County Clerk of the Courts.
Nations recommends you attend a 4 Hour 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.
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 your arraignment, often you return to court on another day for the judge to hear testimony from the Law Enforcement Officer and yourself.
It's significant to remember, if you can not provide evidence to support a dismissal (or not guilty), you will be responsible for your original fine, plus all court costs. Court Costs vary by Circuit, but can reach $75.00 to $500.00 and do not including lawyers fees (if you hire an attorney). Latest Florida Statistics indicate that 1% of traffic court cases are "Not Guilty" and fewer than 18% are "dismissed"; mostly on technicalities.
Florida experiences over 500,000 automobile collisions annually. Fatalities, injuries and property damage are all increasing at a worrisome rate. This results in ever increasing insurance rates for you and all Floridians.
Florida 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 through an online self-study course. After successfully completing the class and submitting the completion certificate to the County Clerk of the Courts Office, "no points" are added to your driving record.
Defensive Driving 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 course in the time frame assigned by the judge. You will also typically be responsible for the fine, plus all court costs.
Court ordered classes may be the 4 hour class, but could also be the 8 hour intermediate course, an 8 hour aggressive driving course or the 12 hour advanced driving course. The type class assigned by the court is typically a result of the severity of the offense, and your DMV record.
When court ordered, traffic school is no longer an option. It is now a requirement to maintain your driving privileges and typically requires attendance in a classroom.
Attending a Defensive Driving 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!
Less than 20% of persons that select the Court Option have their Tickets Dismissed. If your ticket is not dismissed, you will be responsible for the fine, plus all court costs and lawyers fees. That could cost you another $250.00 to $600.00.
Elect Defensive Driving School Option -- It's the smart choice! When you choose the "Election Option" and complete the class, Adjudication is "Withheld" which means No Points!
Don't compound your financial costs when you receive a ticket. Attending a 4 hour BDI 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. A 4 Hour Defensive Driver Course will cost you under $40.00 and allow you to review your skills and refresh your knowledge about all the updates to traffic law since you last read the Drivers Handbook.
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.