Last November, one of my employees was heading home on 9th East in Provo. He had recently left work and the downhill street helped him to cruise right through all of the green lights that stood between him and his apartment. He was approaching his final turn when he had the feeling that he should slow down a little, but before he could tap his breaks, blue and red lights started circling through his rear view mirror.
He was recently married and feverishly trying to finish school and graduate from BYU. As the officer walked up to his window, all he could think about was how expensive the ticket would be and how much his insurance would probably go up. However, after a few minutes of talking to the officer and having his information run, the officer gave him some good news: with one night in traffic school, the points on his license and any possible increases in his insurance cost could be wiped away.
What is Traffic School?
I Drive Safely states that traffic school serves as a refresher course that will help you recall traffic laws and defensive driving techniques, and teaches you all the latest driving information there is, such as new traffic laws. Usually directed by a local law enforcement officer, courses can last from 2 to 8 hours. The duration and content will vary from one area of jurisdiction to another.
If you don’t want to go to traffic school in-person, ask the jurisdiction if there’s an online course you can take in lieu.
Why Traffic School?
If you want to clear your driving record of minor offenses, or lessen the damage done by multiple offenses, traffic school is often your best option.
Utah’s Public Safety site says:
By safe driving, you can clear your own record. As an incentive for safety, the point system provides that when you drive one full year without a moving traffic violation conviction, one-half of the accumulated points will be removed from your driving record. If you drive two successive years without a conviction, all points are deleted. Points for individual convictions are automatically removed from your record three years after the date of the violation.
While driving safe will eventually clear your record, traffic school offers a quick fix to point problems. Once every three years, 50 points may be deleted from your record for completion of a driver improvement course recommended by the department.
Are You Eligible?
The state leaves it up to its individual jurisdictions as to whether you can attend traffic school to lower a traffic ticket fine. Check with the state jurisdiction where you got your ticket for school locations, and whether or not you’re eligible to take a course. It’ll be able to give you the details on fine reduction and other steps you need to take.
Each city has its own rules for who can take traffic school. Generally, to be eligible:
• You must not be a perpetual ticket-receiver; each jurisdiction has its own parameters for this rule. Some say you can’t attend traffic school more than once every six months and, for others, no more than once a year.
• The traffic ticket can’t be the result of an accident or a school zone offense.
• You need to have a valid driver’s license.
A Refresher on Utah’s Point System
- Reckless driving―80 points
- Speeding (depending on severity}―37-75 points
- Failure to yield right-of-way―60 points
- Tailgating/following too closely―60 points
- Wrong side of the road―60 points
- Wrong way on one-way street―60 points
- Red light―50 points
- Stop sign―50 points
- Improper lookout―50 points
- Improper passing―50 points
- Negligent collision―50 points
- Other moving violations―40 points
NOTE: Points may vary plus or minus 10 percent depending upon severity of the conviction. Certain serious violations, such as DUI, require mandatory suspension or revocation and are not included in the points system. (Source: Utah Public Safety)
How Many Points are Too Many Points?
Provisional License Points System
Until a driver is 21, the rules and regulations on point accumulation are very strict. If a driver under 21 receives 70 points or more in a three-year-period, that driver can have his or her license suspended or denied from one month to a year. The length of the suspension depends on the severity of the driving incident and the frequency of the incidents on the driver’s record.
Regular Points System
All drivers who are 21 or older and accumulate 200 points or more in a period of three years may have their license suspended anywhere from three months to a year. As with the provincial license, the severity of this punishment is dependent on the severity of the individual’s driving record.
Most insurance companies will see that you have taken traffic school to remove points from your license and will not raise your insurance premiums. If you are unsure about whether or not your insurance company will recognize traffic school attendance, call your agent.
Even if you haven’t received a ticket or accumulated any points on your license, you should check with your insurance company and ask if they offer any types of discounts for drivers who attend traffic school. If you are 50 or older, there are also mature driver improvement courses that could help you claim some of these discounts.
Costs and Considerations
Traffic school costs vary from one jurisdiction to another. However, you should expect to pay anywhere from $60 on up. This cost is separate from the cost of any ticket or citation that you are attending traffic school for. Also, be aware that many online Traffic School courses will charge you an extra $20.