How Does Traffic School Work in Florida?

Florida traffic school, also known as the Florida 4-Hour Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course, offers drivers an opportunity to improve their skills, keep points off their driving record and even avoid insurance premium increases.

Whether it's a court-mandated requirement or a voluntary decision, completing the 4-hour BDI course provides a variety of benefits. This guide will walk you through the process, including important details about when BDI is mandatory, how to complete the course and more.

What Is Traffic School?

Traffic school, also known as defensive driving school or a Basic Driver Improvement course, is a program designed to educate drivers on safe driving practices, traffic laws and techniques to reduce the risk of accidents and traffic violations. Traffic school is typically offered in various formats, including in-person and online courses.

Selecting a course that is approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) ensures compliance with state regulations. Our online course has earned this approval, guaranteeing it meets requirements to avoid a point penalty, reduce your citation fine or satisfy a mandatory training requirement.

You can volunteer to take a BDI course within 30 days of receiving a moving violation to avoid a point penalty and related consequences from your insurance provider. The civil fine associated with your citation will also be reduced. If you elect to complete a state-approved BDI course after a non-criminal violation, your provider cannot raise your premium, cancel your policy or issue a non-renewal notice.

If you voluntarily complete a BDI course unrelated to a citation, you can demonstrate a commitment to improving your driving skills and reducing the risk of future accidents. Many insurers will view this favorably. Your provider may even offer a discount on your monthly bill for electing to take the course.

Because discounts are offered at the discretion of your provider, it's essential to check with your insurance company to understand specific policies and benefits associated with completing a BDI course.

The state may require drivers to complete traffic school after causing an accident in which someone is hospitalized or if you receive a citation for certain violations, including reckless driving and running a red light. If you take mandatory BDI, you will not receive point or insurance benefits.

When Is BDI Mandatory?

In Florida, taking a BDI course is mandatory under certain circumstances. Here's when taking a BDI course is required:

  • Court order: If you receive a traffic citation for certain non-criminal moving violations, the court will require you to attend a BDI course as part of your penalty. These include passing a school bus, reckless driving, running a red light, highway racing or spectating a highway race.
  • At-fault traffic crash: If you are found at fault for a crash in which someone is taken to the hospital, the court or the FLHSMV will mandate that you attend a BDI course. This requirement aims to promote safe driving practices and reduce the likelihood of future accidents.
  • Multiple crashes: If you have been in two crashes within a two-year period that resulted in over $500 in damages, you are required to take a BDI course.

It's important to note that the specific circumstances under which a BDI course may be mandatory can vary depending on the nature of the traffic offense, the discretion of the court and other factors. If you're unsure whether you're required to take a BDI course, it's advisable to consult with a legal professional or the FLHSMV for clarification.

Navigating the BDI Course

Taking a Basic Driver Improvement course in Florida typically involves the following steps:

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Before enrolling in a Florida traffic school, it's crucial to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. Generally, you can attend a BDI course once every 12 months and no more than five times in your lifetime. Additionally, you must hold a valid non-commercial driver's license. You cannot elect to take BDI if you are convicted of a criminal violation such as driving under the influence.

Step 2: Elect to Take Traffic School and Pay the Court Fee Within 30 Days

To avoid points and other penalties, you must elect to take traffic school within 30 days of receiving your citation. You'll need to contact the Clerk of Court in the county where you received your citation and pay the required election fee. Be sure to ask the court about specific requirements and all the steps you need to take. The process can vary from county to county.

Step 3: Choose a State-Approved BDI Course Provider

FLHSMV maintains a list of approved BDI course providers on its website. Check that the provider you choose is on this list to ensure your completion certificate will be accepted. Our FLHSMV-approved course is approved under the name American Safety Council.

Step 4: Take the Course

Once you've selected a provider, enroll in the 4-hour BDI course. The course covers various topics such as defensive driving techniques, traffic laws and safe driving practices. Pay close attention to the material as you'll need to pass a final exam to receive your completion certificate.

Drivers typically have between 60 and 90 days from the date of the citation to complete the course and ensure the court has proof of completion. Please check with the clerk's office in the county where you received your citation to learn about specific requirements.

Step 5: Pass the Final Exam

At the end of the BDI course, you'll have to pass a final exam to demonstrate your understanding of the material. The passing score for our course is 80%, and you can retake the exam up to three times if you don't pass.

Step 6: Receive Your Completion Certificate

Upon successfully completing the course and passing the final exam, we will automatically report your course completion to the DMV. If you were ordered by the court to complete mandatory traffic school, you must notify the court that you completed the course and provide your certificate and any other required documentation.

You will be able to download your certificate within seven days of completing the course. Expedited delivery options are available if you need it sooner. Keep a copy of the certificate for your records.

If you elect to take traffic school to keep points off your record, the Clerk of Court may be able to pull your completion report from the DMV database if the citation information you provided is correct. We still recommend contacting the court for confirmation because some courts require you to submit a certificate of completion.

Step 7: Confirm Your Course Completion with the Clerk of Court

It is your responsibility to ensure the court has proof of your course completion before the specified deadline. Failure to do so may result in points being added to your driving record and potential consequences such as fines or license suspension.

While the court may be automatically notified of your completion after we report it to the DMV database, it's a good idea to contact the Clerk of Court directly to confirm.

Step 8: Monitor Your Driving Record

After confirming the court has documented your traffic school completion, monitor your driving record to ensure points from the traffic violation have not been added to your record. Contact the FLHSMV if you notice any discrepancies.

Florida Online Traffic School offers drivers a valuable opportunity to improve their driving skills, keep points off their record and fulfill legal requirements in certain situations. By following this step-by-step guide and selecting the right course, you can navigate the BDI process with ease.

4-Hour Traffic School (BDI/TCAC)

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