Can Defensive Driving Dismiss Your Ticket?

by John Fabel | Last Updated: February 10, 2021

The morning started well enough. Then you had to help your son find his homework before you could drop him at school. Still time for coffee? Would have been if the espresso machine hadn’t stopped working at your local beanery. Six redlights and a train later, you’re pushing a little harder on the gas to get to work on time, and then…are those blue lights behind you?

A ticket is not the end of the world. They happen to all of us. The best part (if there is such a thing) of getting a ticket in Texas is the fact that you can keep it off your record fairly easily in a number of different ways. The quickest and easiest way is to dismiss that traffic ticket (and keep it off your record) by taking a defensive driving course.

If you’ve never dismissed a ticket with defensive driving before, there are a few steps in the process, and they’re steps you want to get in the right order. This post is designed to help you make sure to get all of your t’s crossed and i’s dotted so that your driving record stays clean.

Answers in this post:

How Can a Traffic Ticket be Dismissed?

How Often Can You Take Texas Defensive Driving to Dismiss a Ticket?

How Much Does Defensive Driving Reduce a Ticket?

What are the Steps to Dismissing a Ticket with Texas Defensive Driving?

VIDEO: Can Defensive Driving Dismiss Your Ticket?

Dismissing a Ticket with Texas Defensive Driving

When you receive a ticket it will come with a “date to appear.” Depending on the municipality, this date can be from 7-21 days from the date of the citation. During this time, determine whether you are eligible to take defensive driving before contacting the court for permission.

The following is a list of situations and conditions that will disqualify you from taking defensive driving:

  • If you are the holder of a CDL.
  • If you received a speeding ticket written for 25 miles over the posted speed limit or in excess of 95 mph.
  • If your citation involved passing a school bus.
  • If your citation was received in a work zone with workers present.
  • If you were involved in a hit and run.

Generally speaking, if you are the holder of a valid class C license and none of the above apply to you, the judge will be more than happy to extend you the courtesy of taking a driver safety course in lieu of paying a fine and getting an insurance-hiking black mark on your driving record.

By the way, this courtesy is not restricted to Texas drivers. If your road trip through the Lone Star State had the added bonus of a moving violation, you can take advantage of this kindness, too.

“If it’s that easy, why can’t I just set up a streaming account with a defensive driving school and speed all the time?” That kind of thinking leads us to our next question, namely…

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How Often Can I Dismiss a Ticket with Defensive Driving?

In Texas, defensive driving can be used for ticket dismissal once every twelve months. This means that if it’s been less than a year since you’ve taken defensive driving, you might want to consider skipping that trip to the coffee shop if you’re already pushing it to get to work. Otherwise, you might find yourself drinking a REALLY expensive latte!

dismiss a ticket once every twelve months

Now I have heard of dedicated speeders who have managed to receive citations within days of each other from two different municipalities. Some of these guys even brag how they’ve managed to get both tickets dismissed with defensive driving, figuring Court A doesn’t know what Court B is up to.

As risky (and illegal) this gambit is, there is a brief window of opportunity where it could be taken advantage of.

If the two tickets were received in rapid succession, Court B really would have no idea that Court A had given you permission to take defensive driving. You could technically juggle it, but there are still dominoes that would have to fall your way. The biggest of these would be found on your driving record.

To complete the dismissal of your ticket, the court is going to ask you to submit a certificate of completion from your driver safety course along with a copy of your driving record, specifically a “3A” driving record. Why a 3A?

A certified 3A Driver Record is a record of all crashes and violations you’ve been involved in. If you’ve dismissed a ticket in the past with defensive driving, it will show that, too. This means that unless you order a second driving record before the state finds out you’ve taken defensive driving for Court A, Court B is going to know you’re trying to pull a fast one.

Bottom line? If everything were to line up just right, you might be able to pull it off, but it’s probably better not to try. Know what’s even better than better? Don’t get two tickets in the first place!

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How Does Paying for Defensive Driving Compare to Just Paying the Ticket?

defensive driving cost

On average, paying for a defensive driving course and the associated court costs represents about a 45% savings over the face value of a moving violation. If you’re a numbers guy you can check out this post to see the math.

But wait, there’s more!

That 45% savings only applies to what you’ll save today. If you enter a guilty plea and pay the ticket, the citation becomes a part of your driving record for three years. Yep, it’ll be there for the next 36 months, reminding you of its presence in the form of higher insurance premiums. Depending on your carrier and coverage, these extra premiums could add up to hundreds of dollars.

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OK, You’ve Convinced Me. How Do I Dismiss My Ticket with Defensive Driving?

Dismissing a Texas traffic ticket with a defensive driving course is easy. Just be sure not to get any of these carts before their horses:

  • Obtain permission from the court to take a driver safety class.
  • Pay all required court fees.
  • Sign up for a defensive driving class. You can complete your course in person or online. Feel free to Google “Texas defensive driving” or narrow your search by checking out our favorites.
  • If you chose the online version, get on it and get it done!
  • If your court requires a driving record (and it probably does) now would be a great time to get it ordered.
  • Finish your course and wait for your certificate.
  • Get your certificate (and probably driving record) together and get it to the court.
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John Fabel

I 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.