Defensive Driving Resource

Florida Traffic School Discount Goes Away

Drivers who receive a traffic ticket in Florida now have another reason to be disappointed.  The longstanding benefit of an 18% civil fine reduction for electing to attend traffic school has been removed from the state law-books.

Last month, Governor Crist signed into law SB 12-A, which modifies Section 318.14(9) of the Florida Statutes by removing a provision that previously awarded an 18% discount to any driver who elected to attend traffic school for a moving violation committed in Florida.  Although the 18% discount was applied to the civil penalty, drivers were sometimes surprised to find out that the money they were “saving” was being lost elsewhere, in additional court costs, for instance.  Click here to view the current text of Section 318.14(9), Florida Statutes (note that at time of this posting the 18% discount had not yet been removed).

Despite the loss of the 18% discount, drivers still have good reasons to sign up for traffic school if they receive a Florida ticket, as other significant benefits remain in place.  The primary benefit is that drivers will continue to receive no points if they elect to attend traffic school and complete it within the time frame allotted by the court.  By keeping points off their license, drivers are less likely to end up with a Florida driver license suspension down the road.

Another significant benefit that Florida drivers still enjoy is provided by Section 626.9541, Florida Statutes, which assures drivers that if they elect to attend traffic school and they were not at fault in a collision, their insurance company cannot raise their rate, cancel their automobile insurance policy, or refuse to renew it.  The recent legislative changes that removed the 18% discount do not affect the statute that provides the insurance benefit.

One minor benefit of attending Florida traffic school is that drivers with a “safe driver” status on their licenses were able to keep this status if they held it before they received their ticket.  This too remains unchanged.

Besides these benefits associated with lower insurance rates and point dismissal, attending traffic school also gives drivers the opportunity to review important traffic safety concepts and learn defensive driving skills. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles conducts studies of Florida’s various traffic school programs every five years and has determined that the majority of these programs help to reduce future traffic tickets, collisions, or both.  In the past, DHSMV has stated its support for these programs because of the educational service they provide to Florida residents.

SB 12-A also increased the base rate for moving violations by $10 and speeding violations by $25.  The amount actually charged to drivers will be set by the court, which is authorized to levy additional fees at its discretion.

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