If you have recently received a traffic ticket (or a sudden jump in your car insurance premiums), you may be considering taking a defensive driving course. Besides wondering if you are up to sitting through a course you’re not especially excited about, you may also wonder if the class will be worth your financial investment.
Unlike other states, Texas state law sets the minimum price for a defensive driving course. That price is $25.00 dollars whether the course is completed in person or online. There are, however, situations where spending a little more may be worth it. “Like when?” you ask. Read on!
Answers in this post:
VIDEO: How Much Does Defensive Driving Cost?
So, How Much is Defensive Driving Going to Cost Me?
Texas state law mandates that the minimum price for a driver safety (a.k.a. defensive driving) class is $25.00 dollars. If you find one for less, you’ll only wind up with a worthless certificate and the opportunity to take the course again, this time through a legitimate provider.
That being said, there may be times when spending a little more may not be a bad idea. Since you can’t pay for a shorter course or someone to do it for you, most decisions about upgrades come down to your personal learning style. If you’re not so excited about reading six hours worth of text, an upgrade to a narrated or 100% video course may not be a bad idea. Most course providers offer such upgrades, and they can be had for $10 dollars or less.
A word here—Being a fast reader is not an advantage here. State law requires defensive driving courses to be equipped with timers to make sure students stay in the course for the required amount of time. Sorry.
A part of the process where you don’t want to spend any extra money is on expedited shipping. Many providers charge ridiculously inflated prices to get you your certificate faster. Waiting until the last minute can double (or more) the cost of getting defensive driving done.
4 out of 5 doctors surveyed say that the best way to take your medicine is to take it, and soon!
So, How Much is Defensive Driving Going to Save Me?
If you have received a ticket, taking a defensive driving class will save you money now and later.
Let me give you an example for the now part.
If I were to get a ticket where I live (Fort Worth), these would be my choices for making things right with the city:
- Plead Guilty – A guilty plea earns me the right to straight-up pay the ticket. In Fort Worth, what you pay depends on how fast you were going when you got caught. There is a base fee of $102.10 for speeding in a non-school zone or non-work zone area. Add to that a court cost of $72.10. Then add to that $8.00 dollars per mile over the speed limit you were driving.
So, if I was caught at 10 miles over the limit, I’m looking at writing a check for $102.10 + $72.10 + $80.00 = $254.20!
- Take defensive driving – In Fort Worth, I’ll have to pay $114.10 to take them up on their generous offer to take defensive driving instead of paying the ticket. Add to that the cost of the course:
$114.20 + $25.00 = $139.20. Even if you choose to add $10.00 worth of video or narration upgrades, you’re still looking at a savings of 45%!
But that’s not all…
Taking defensive driving keeps your ticket off of your driving record. Unfortunately, your insurance company doesn’t like it when you get speeding tickets and will raise your premiums for the next three years. According to industry research, full coverage insurance increases by $600 dollars over this period and $270 dollars for liability only. Adding this to the $200+ dollars in fines and not leaving for work five minutes earlier becomes really expensive!
On the other hand, insurance companies like it when you take defensive driving. Depending on your carrier and your coverage, you could save tens to hundreds of dollars on your premiums just by having defensive driving on your record.
Good news, Texans. The way that defensive driving is handled in the Lone Star State allows you to double dip.
After your course, you will receive two completion certificates, one for the court and one for your insurance company. Most drivers save 2-10% on their premiums after completing a driver safety course. Even if your insurance company is stingy and only offers you a $5.00 dollar a month reduction, that’s still a 3-year savings of $180.00 dollars.
Wait, you said that taking defensive driving for my ticket would only cost me around $140.00 bucks. That’s right, Leadfoot. Your ticket is actually going to make you money. Imagine how much money your six hours would have made without a ticket.
So, How Long Do I Have to Finish Defensive Driving?
That depends on whether you are asking when the court will want your certificate returned or how much time you’ll spend completing the course earning that certificate.
Most Texas courts give you 90 days to return your certificate. The best approach here is to get it done as close to the first of those 90 days as you can. Come on. You know how you are. The further you get away from that initial court date, the less you’ll think about having to take defensive driving at all.
Waiting until Day 89 is stressful and potentially far more expensive as you’ll likely be facing expensive overnight shipping.
Waiting until Day 91 is worse. Missing your deadline will result in your citation fine coming due immediately and adding that ticket to your driving record.
“But I already paid the administrative fee to take defensive driving!” you cry.
“And thank you so much for your additional contribution to the city coffers,” replies the court, “and now, about that ticket…”
Just get on it and take the dang course already.
By law, a TDLR-approved defensive driving course must be a minimum of six hours in length. So waiting until Day 89 means that you’ll sit for six straight hours staring at your computer, nervously tapping your fingers while timers expire.
Instead, if you sign up for an online course Day 1, you have 88 days to get it done. That works out to an average of about three and a half minutes per day. Surely you can shoehorn that into your schedule, no matter how busy it is. To help you get on it, read our review of our favorite Texas defensive driving providers.
Got more questions? Head back over to our FAQ Page.
John FabelI have a long and checkered history with defensive driving. I took my first "court invited" course at age 15 and realized immediately that there had to be a better way. Since that first experience, I have gone on to teach defensive driving classroom courses and to author four internet courses in 2 states. After nearly 25 years in the industry, I can help you find a course that will be the best fit for you.
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