Can Defensive Driving Dismiss Your Ticket? (VIDEO)
Yep, But Don't Click "Get Started" Before Asking "Mother May I?"!
Texas Ticket Dismissal with Defensive Driving
The state of Texas has offered drivers the opportunity to dismiss traffic violations with defensive driving for some time now. I dismissed a couple myself this way in high school, and that’s been a minute. Actually, several. Let’s just say I attended classes in long hair, bell bottoms, and my-my-my-my boogie shoes.
Defensive driving classes have improved a LOT since those heady disco days. Back then, you had to complete your course sitting in a church basement, bowling alley, or some other rented room, surrounded by strangers for six hours. Nowadays, your course is just a click away on computer, tablet, or phone.
What hasn’t changed are the steps required to take advantage of ticket dismissal with defensive driving.
Steps to Texas Ticket Dismissal
When you receive a ticket, don’t rush straight home to start shopping for a defensive driving course. Except for some special cases, most minor traffic violations can be dismissed by successfully completing a defensive driving course. Still, you must follow the legal steps to get the outcome you’re looking for.
- Contact the Court FIRST—When you receive a ticket, somewhere on it will be a date by which you must contact the court. In most jurisdictions, this date will be 10-14 days from the day of the citation. Some courts require an in-person appearance, but most can start you on your defensive driving journey after a phone call or email. Your ticket should make it clear what you should do.
- Pay Any Court Costs—Just because you won’t be paying for the ticket doesn’t mean the court won’t still be extracting its pound of flesh. The fee you’ll pay is usually much less than the face value of the ticket, and it will keep the ticket off your record. This will save you from paying higher insurance premiums in the future.
- Choose Your Course—Chances are good that your court will instruct you to complete a “driver safety course.” Don’t worry when you read that. What the courts call “driver safety,” everyone else calls “defensive driving.” Same, same.
- Follow Your Heart—As long as the course you choose is TDLR-approved, you can complete it in the way that suits you best. Enjoy meeting new people and have a six-hour hole in your schedule? A classroom course might be just the thing. Working at your own pace more your thing? Choose an online course from one of the many available TDLR-approved Texas courses or skip the hunt and sign up for ours.
- Get a Certificate of Completion—When you are done with your course, the course provider will issue two certificates, one for the court and one for your insurance company. Generally, these certificates will be delivered via good ‘ol U.S. mail. All defensive driving providers offer upgrades for expedited delivery, and most (like ours) also offer electronic delivery.
- Get Your Stuff Together—Gather your certificate and any other documents the court has asked for. It is very likely that among these will be a copy of your Type 3A driving record. Not sure how to get one of those. Your course provider can help you out with that one, too.
- Get It to the Court ON TIME—Follow the court’s instructions for returning the documents making sure to get them in on or before the court gave you. Turning these papers in late is costly. If you don’t, you’ll have to pay the ticket, the ticket will go on your record, and you’ll have spent six hours of your life taking a defensive driving class for which you’ll not be getting credit!
Two More Words of Advice
The reason that the list above is numbered is to encourage you to follow the steps IN ORDER. Most importantly, if you sign up for defensive driving before obtaining the court’s permission, they will refuse the course you’ve already bought (and possibly taken), and you will get to start all over. I don’t think that would be considered much fun in anybody’s book.
Finally, don’t cheat yourself out of three years of insurance savings. Of the thousands of folks who have taken our course, only a small fraction go the extra mile to file their certificates’ “insurance copy” with their insurance agent. Saving a few bucks every month can add up to a bunch of bucks when you get to do it 36 times!