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 of an 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.
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. Additionally, if you do not "Elect" to attend a 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".
Option 2 -- "Elect" to Attend Defensive Driving School Class and receive Zero Points
Within 30 days of receiving your Citation, select the Defensive Driving School (DDS) 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) and
- Adjudication is automatically "withheld" by the court and no points will be added to your record.
Florida gives you an added incentive for selecting the DDS Option. By State Law, attending a Defensive Driver Improvement class 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 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 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 your arraignment, 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.
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!
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! 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.
Driver Safety Education
Florida experiences nearly 340,000 automobile collisions annually. Fatalities, injuries and property damage are all increasing at a worrisome rate.
The State of Florida has concluded that education definitely offers the best method to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities, and to help you reduce the risk of future traffic tickets. Fact is 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 defensive driver improvement course.
- Attend a defensive driver course and re-certify your driver safety habits.
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.
Court Ordered Class
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 course in the time frame assigned by the judge.
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. 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.
Classroom courses are provided in a relaxed seminar style format. This allows you to have direct contact with a certified instructor and have a forum to discuss topics with other students. The seminar style courses offers a highly social environment with plenty of interaction among participants.
The course is divided into multiple sessions and topics. Sessions are 50 minutes in length with a 10 minute break once an hour. While there is no test required to complete the class, students are encouraged and expected to actively participate in the seminar discussions in order to receive their Completion Certificate.
We believe in educating our students. Our Instructors keep your attention and will arm you with information about traffic law and other important factors to help you stop receiving Traffic Tickets. Sorry, if you are looking for boring Videos, students will not get those here! One thing is guaranteed, students actually leave our school with a different perspective about the driving environment, plus positive thoughts and techniques to avoid additional traffic violations.
Course Completion Certificates are printed and provided to students at the end of the class. You will receive two copies before you leave class.
- A Signed original with a unique Certificate Number. This copy is for the Clerk of the Courts (Court Orders) or the DMV if you are attending for a Points Suspension, to relieve a Habitual Traffic Offender revocation or to request a Hardship License.
- A second copy is provided as a receipt for your records. We suggest students file this as a backup copy with your other important documents.
Our Florida Online Traffic School classes are created to be as convenient as possible for you. You work at your own pace, from your home, and on your own computer. The Online courses will operate on any PC or Mac that is connected to the Internet. Nothing special is required or typically needs to be downloaded. (See Requirements)
Online drivers education classes are simple to use. They are designed to accommodate novice or expert internet users, and are available in English or Spanish.
Our defensive driving school courses are Florida DMV Certified and Court approved. They are designed to help drivers refresh their knowledge of safe driving tactics, understand the benefits and responsibilities of having a Florida License, and become acquainted with new traffic laws. You will be refreshing your defensive driving skills, including learning about collision avoidance, effects of weather conditions, sharing the road, safe use of technology, dangers of Distracted Driving and Florida's updated DUI Laws.
- You log onto our Traffic School web site at the American Safety Institute (ASI) and Register through your internet connection.
- You may complete an online class in one sitting or login many times. You complete the class at your individual pace.
- You can login anytime -- 24/7 -- from any computer connected to the internet to complete your class.
After you finish the course materials, you take your Florida DMV required multiple choice final exam online. The computer grades the exam and you know immediately if you have passed. If you do not pass, you can retake the test immediately at no additional charge. (Classroom Courses DO NOT require a final exam.)
When you complete a defensive driving course online, your Certificate is sent to you at no additional charge the following business day. (Certificates are processed 2 times a day, Monday thru Friday. For Same Day Expedited Processing, call the Processing Center at 800-800-7121 for email or FedEx Express delivery.