Taking a Driver Improvement course rarely appears high on anyone’s to-do list, but if you have a ticket to dismiss or would like to save a little money on your car insurance, there’s really no easier way. Not ready to jump in yet? Here are a few more answers that may help you decide.
Answers in this post:
What are Some Reasons for Taking a VA Driver Improvement Course?
Believe it or not, Virginia doesn’t have one reason for taking a driver improvement class, there are seven, and each comes with its own code. Let’s break them down.
- COU—AKA Court Ordered driver improvement. This one is just like it sounds. completion of the course will result in the addition of safe driving points (more about those in a minute) to the driver’s record.
- DMV—AKA DMV Ordered driver improvement. In this case, safe driving points are only awarded to drivers over the age of 18.
- INS—AKA Insurance driver improvement. This course is taken voluntarily to qualify drivers 55 and older for an insurance discount. Good news? You save some money. Bad news? No safe driver points.
- VOL—AKA Volunteer driver improvement. In this case the course is taken voluntarily for safe driving points instead of an insurance discount.
- CMC—AKA Commercial Driver Court Required driver improvement. This one is just like the first one, but for commercial drivers. If the court approves, completion of this one will earn you safe driver points, too.
- CMV—AKA (as you might have guessed) Commercial Driver Volunteer driver improvement. This one will earn you safe driving points as well.
Commercial driver improvement is a specialized course. Ask your court or provider for details.
What Are Virginia “Safe Driver Points?”
Like most states, Virginia uses a driver record points system to keep track of at-risk drivers. Unlike most other states, Virginia awards both safe driver points and demerit points.
Demerit points are added to a driver’s record following an accident or ticket. The number of points and how long they remain on the record depends on the type of violation. Points are also added for violations that occur in another state.
- Common 3-Point Violations—Three point violations include infractions like:
- Speeding 1-9 miles over the speed limit
- Improper passing
- Improper turn and even things like
- Driving on the sidewalk or over a fire hose
With the exception of speeding, 3-point violations remain on a driving record for three years. Speeding 1-9 MPH over the limit remains for five.
- Common 4-Point Violations—Four point violations include infractions like:
- Speeding 10-19 miles over the speed limit
- Unsafe passing
- Failure to yield
- Failure to stop at the scene of a crash
As with 3-point violations, 4-pointers stay on a record for three years except speeding which stays for five. Failure to stop at a crash remains for 11.
- Common 6-Point Violations—Six point violations include infractions like:
- Reckless driving
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license
Six-point violations remain on a record for 11 years.
The consequences of accumulated points depend on your age.
- If you are 18 or older and you accumulate—
- 8 demerit points in 12 months (or 12 points in 24) you will receive an advisory letter from the DMV.
- 12 demerit points in 12 months (or 18 points in 24) you will be required to complete a driver improvement clinic within 90 days.
- 18 demerit points in 12 months (or 24 points in 24 months) your license will be suspended for 90 days. Completion of a driver improvement clinic is required for reinstatement. After reinstatement, you will remain on probation for six months.
You can check your current point total on the Virginia DMV website.
- If you are 18 or younger and are convicted of a traffic violation (or a safety belt or child restraint violation)
- First offense—Mandatory completion of driver improvement. Failure to do so will result in a license suspension until the course is completed.
- Second offense—90 day license suspension.
- Third offense—License revocation for one year or until driver is 18, whichever is longer.
What are Safe Driver Points?
Safe driver points subtract from the number of demerit points on a driver’s record. Drivers are awarded one safe driving point for every 12 months of citation-free driving. Annual safe driving points are awarded in early April of each year for the previous calendar year. In addition, five safe driving points are awarded after successfully completing a driver improvement course.
Can I Take Driver Improvement Online in VA?
Absolutely. In fact, there’s really no better or easier way to complete a driver improvement course. An online course allows you to get the job done quickly and easily on a schedule and at a pace that works for you. Work on it whenever you have a few minutes, and it will be over before you know it. Just be sure that the online clinic you choose has been approved by the VA DMV. We’d hate to see you have to go through this dance twice!
It must be noted here that an online driver improvement course is not acceptable for drivers under 20 years of age. These drivers are required to complete a classroom version of the course.
How Often Can You Take Driver Improvement in Virginia?
Virginia drivers can voluntarily complete driver improvement once every 24 months to earn five safe driver points. The number of times it can be taken for the dismissal of demerit points is up to the courts.
How Do I Complete Virginia Driver Improvement?
- Step 1—Select a classroom or online provider and inform them of the reason you are taking the course. If taking the course at the order of the court, the court will provide you with documentation that you must present to the provider.
- Step 2—Present a government ID to the provider to register.
- Step 3—Complete the 8-hour course and pass the final exam. If the course is taken online, the final can be attempted unlimited times, but you cannot attempt it more than once a day.
- Step 4—After completion, the driver improvement provider has 24 hours to notify the DMV.
To check whether your course has been reported you can get your driving record.
Need More Help Deciding on a Course?
For help deciding, you can read reviews of our number one choice (as well as a couple of others), or you can just get started with any of the other fine, DMV-approved providers in the chart below. By the way, if three choices aren’t enough, we also have a list of all the online Driver Improvement providers in Virginia.
Best VA DMV-Approved Online Driver Improvement Providers
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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