If you’ve recently gotten a ticket, you may be considering taking a defensive driving course. Whether you have found yourself at the last minute or are just wanting to get it over with fast, you may be wondering how long the process will take.
If you need to get defensive driving done quickly, the good news is that it is absolutely possible. Thanks to online courses, you can sign up and get through it in a matter of hours. Better still, a recent change in the law will even enable you to get your completion certificate in minutes instead of days. How? Read on!
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VIDEO: Can You Do Defensive Driving In One Day?
How Long is Texas Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving has a long history in Texas. It once fell under the auspices of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Let me tell you, having been a high school science teacher for 20 years, the TEA is all about requiring curriculum that pounds concepts into a learner’s head. That must have been their logic in requiring a driving course for experienced drivers to be six hours long.
Before you dismiss the idea of taking defensive driving because of this six hour requirement, allow me to let you in on a little secret: a defensive driving course is, in actuality, only five hours of curriculum accompanied by an hour of required breaks. So, whether online or in person, nearly 20% of your time will be spent hanging out.
Speaking of “online or in person,” the video below covers some of the pros and cons of both delivery methods to help you decide which may be best for you.
After Getting a Ticket, How Long Do I Have to Get Defensive Driving Done?
Depending on the rules of the municipality where you got your ticket, you could have up to 100+ days to get your defensive driving class done.
After a ticket is written, the “offender” usually has a seven to fourteen day window in which to submit a plea to the court. Drivers can enter one of three pleas for a moving violation:
- Guilty – “OK, judge, you’re right. I did it.” This is the one that will cost you the most money. Not only will you get to pay for the ticket, but you’ll also enjoy higher insurance premiums for the next three years.
- Innocent – “No, judge, I didn’t do it and I’ll prove it.” This one will cost you the most time. Whether or not you spend time finding an attorney, you’ll still waste hours between getting your ducks in a row and cooling your heels waiting for your docket to be called in the courtroom.
- Nolo Contendere – “Ok, judge, you can say I did it, but I don’t agree.” Latin for no contest, this plea has the same legal effect as a guilty plea, but without the civil liability. This means your ticket can be dismissed with defensive driving and that your insurance rate will not increase.
When a nolo contendere plea is entered, the court will assess an administrative fee (usually far lower than the cost of the ticket) and will accept the completion of an approved defensive driving course to keep your record clean. In most jurisdictions, you will have 90 days to finish the course and return a certificate of completion to the court.
A bit of good news here—It used to be that no matter whether you did your course online or in a classroom, the course provider was required to mail you your certificate of completion. That left you with two choices. You could either pace back and forth to the mailbox waiting for the ever-efficient USPS or pay big bucks for expedited courier delivery.
A recent change in Texas law has finally brought the delivery of defensive driving certificates into the 21st century. Now course providers have the ability to email you a copy of your certificate so that you can have it minutes after you finish your course. Told you it was good news, especially if you’re a procrastinator like me!
What Is Defensive Driving Going to Cost Me?
If you have Googled “Texas defensive driving” before, you’ve probably seen a variety of prices. Perhaps you’ve tried Groupon or one of the dozens of course providers that came up in your search. Many have wildly different prices including different package deals that include the course, a driving record, expedited certificate shipping or some combination. Others proudly claim “Guaranteed Lowest Price!” Which should you choose?
Allow me to let you in on a little secret. The minimum price for a Texas defensive driving course is set by the state and that price is $25.00 dollars. If a company sells for any less they are in violation of the law and will be shut down, leaving you with a worthless certificate.
That being said, there may be good reason for you to pay a little more. For example, some courses offer upgrades to 100% video or read-along narration. Or, if you’ve let the clock tick down to day 89, you may have to pay a little extra to get your certificate to the court on time.
Will Finishing Defensive Driving in One Day Work for You?
If you are on day 88 of your 90 day countdown, all I can say is, “It better.”
On the other hand, if the ominous sound of a ticking clock is not pounding in your head, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of the one day option.
Having time on your hands gives you choices. If you have a schedule that features random six-hour blocks of free time, you can get this task done however you like. If one of your six hour blocks coincides with the schedule of a classroom course provider, you could take the class in person. If you’re the “rip-off-the-bandage-take-all-your-medicine” type, you can grab your laptop, tablet or phone and plow through an online course at one sitting.
But what if you don’t have a life of leisure schedule or the iron will of a marathoner? A classroom course probably won’t work for you, but an online one would prove to be just the ticket, if you’ll pardon the expression. You can work through an online course at a pace that fits your life. Log in and out as often as you like taking as much or as little time at a time as you like to get the job done. Just don’t take so casual an approach that you miss your due date.
“A spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down, but you’ll still get a cavity if you don’t brush afterwards.”Marjorie Poopins, DDS
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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