A Defensive Driving Course in Virginia is more commonly called a Driver Improvement Clinic. The Clinic is a program that the State highly recommends every Virginia-licensed driver take for two reasons. One, successfully completing a Driver Improvement Clinic grants you a well-deserved rate reduction on your auto insurance policy. And two, it also gains you safe driving points that offset demerit points, thus, helping you maintain a pristine driving record. Driver Improvement Clinics are available as instructor-led workshops and as computer-based lessons. If you're under 20 years old, you are required to attend the course in a classroom. You are not eligible to take the course online.
Benefits of Taking a Defensive Driving Course in Virginia
Upon completing an approved defensive driving course, the traffic school will furnish you with a certificate approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. This document will serve as your tangible evidence to the insurance provider that the course or clinic was completed in accordance with Virginia laws. There are two types of Defensive Driving Course discounts available in Virginia, as there are two types of approved defensive driving classes:
Auto Insurance Discounts with a Driver Improvement Clinic: Good news for licensed and insured drivers in Virginia! As defined in the State Statute § 38.2-2217, any motor vehicle insurance rate filed with the Commissioner may provide a reduction in premium charges for Virginia drivers younger than 55 years of age, who have satisfactorily accomplished a Driver Improvement Clinic approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. This legalized discount has you covered for a good 2 years. However, if the reason you’re attending a Driver Improvement Clinic is ordered by the court or recommended by the Department of Motor Vehicles, this strips you of your eligibility for such rate reduction. You only earn the discount when you voluntarily take the course.
Auto Insurance Discounts with a Mature Driver Crash Prevention Course: The second type of defensive driving course discount covers drivers 55 years of age and older. As detailed in the same legal code, senior citizens can likewise enjoy a motor vehicle insurance rate reduction – for three years – by attending and completing a Mature Driver Crash Prevention Course. Several organizations in Virginia offer special driving programs geared toward mature drivers. The courses help refresh your driving skills as well as educate you with new techniques for today’s busier roads. You must be certain that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles approves the Mature Driver Crash Prevention Course you choose, in order to qualify for the insurance discount. As it is in the Driver Improvement Clinic, mature drivers who attend the course to satisfy the court due to a traffic infraction will not be eligible for the rate reduction.
Safe Driving Points added to your record: Another course benefit we mentioned earlier is keeping a pristine driving record, and innately earning Safe Driving Points. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, sometimes taking the class itself earns you points as well. You may use these Safe Driving Points to offset Demerit Points. Demerit Points are added to your record each time you commit a road offense, by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Safe Driving Points you’ve collected beforehand can counter these so that you can reclaim a clean slate. The Department of Motor Vehicles awards you with one safe driving point for each full calendar year that you are driving without any violations or suspensions. In other words, a full year of clean driving record earns you a point. This points system incentivizes you to veer away from potential road dangers, educate drivers who have developed risky driving practices, and take dangerous drivers off the road. The highest safe driving point balance you may accumulate on your driving record at a given time is five points. In a scenario when you have collected more Demerit Points than Safe Points, the court judge will order you to complete another Driver Improvement Clinic. This time, however, taking the course will neither get you Safe Driving Points nor an insurance premium reduction. The Virginia Defensive Driving Course Curriculum The law requires that you take a minimum of 8 hours to complete a Driver Improvement Clinic. In Virginia, you can take your course either in person at a commercial driving school or online through an approved provider. The advantage of taking a traffic school in person is that it will be presented to you by a qualified instructor in a classroom setting. This means you will follow a schedule, and most likely complete the course in its entirety in one session. In contrast, when you take the course online, you are given the advantage of freedom and convenience to work on the course at your own leisure. As a mandate, the final exam for these online courses is to be accomplished in person at a testing site. It is important to note that the ability to elect which course format to take is only given to drivers 20 years old or older. If you're under 20 years old, you must attend the course in a classroom. You are not eligible to take the course online. The Virginia Driver Improvement Clinic is usually made up of chapters. Each one focusing on a single topic relevant to safe and responsible driving: • Crash prevention. • Cost magnitude of traffic accidents. • Contributing factors for vehicle crashes. • Regulations, laws, and highway environmental factors.