Defensive Driving in Tennessee
Whatever your reason for taking a defensive driving course/traffic school, you will likely gain some safe driving skills and knowledge that can help reduce your chances of committing traffic violations and causing accidents in the future.
On this page you'll find information about Tennessee defensive driving courses, when you can take a course, and what kind of course curriculum and requirements you can expect to complete.
You may be able to complete a defensive driving course to:
- Avoid a driver's license suspension caused by driving record points.
- Reduce the amount of time your TN driver's license will be suspended.
- Dismiss a traffic ticket.
- Satisfy a court requirement.
- Lower your car insurance rates or earn a car insurance discount.
Typically, your eligibility to use a defensive driving course for one of the reasons above will be determined by the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS), your court, or your car insurance company.
The appropriate agency will likely determine your eligibility based upon your driving history, traffic school you have completed in the past, and the circumstances of your offense.
Required Driver Improvement/Defensive Driving
You may need to complete a driver improvement traffic school course if you:
- Accumulate 12 points or more on your driving record within 12 months.
- Accumulate 6 points or more on your driving record and you are younger than 18 years old.
Usually, the Tennessee DOS will send you a notice of pending suspension. You will be able to request a hearing to review your driver's license suspension. The hearing may allow you to complete a defensive driving course to avoid having your driver's license suspended or to shorten the suspension duration.
If you do not request a hearing, your driver's license will usually be suspended for 6 to 12 months.
If you need to order your driving record to check the status of your driver's license or your points, please visit our D riving Records in Tennessee page.
Dismiss a Traffic Ticket
If you've received a traffic ticket, your judge may allow you to dismiss the ticket and avoid accumulating driving record points by completing a defensive driving/traffic school course.
Generally, you can only dismiss a certain number of tickets within a given time frame. Your eligibility will be determined by the court on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, courts typically only allow minor traffic violations to be dismissed with a defensive driving course.
For more information, please contact your court.
Earn a Car Insurance Discount
If you complete a defensive driving course voluntarily, your car insurance company may award you with a safe driver insurance discount.
While defensive driving discounts are usually aimed towards teens and older drivers, drivers of all ages may be eligible.
For more information, please contact your car insurance provider.
You may have the option to complete a program in the classroom or enroll in a defensive driving course online.
For a complete list of Tennessee DOS-approved defensive driving/driver improvement programs, please visit the Tennessee Department of Safety website.
For more information, please contact the Tennessee DMV.
Whether you take defensive driving/traffic school online or in the classroom, you'll generally cover topics, such as:
- Defensive driving tips.
- Developing safe driving attitudes and behaviors.
- Tennessee traffic laws.
- Alcohol safety and education.
- Sharing the road.
Your course will usually take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to complete, depending on your course provider. Depending on your reasons for enrolling in defensive driving, you may need to enroll in a specific course.
Generally, you will complete your course by passing a final exam. Once you pass the test, your traffic school provider will usually give you a completion certificate or provide your completion information to the court or the TN DOS.
If you have further questions about your options and requirements for taking defensive driving, please contact:
- The Tennessee DMV.
- Your traffic court.
- Your car insurance company.