Defensive Driving in Texas
In Texas, defensive driving can be completed in person at a commercial driving school, or it can be completed from a Texas Education Agency (TEA)-approved online provider.
Both classroom and online defensive driving can provide valuable driving safety tips, but many drivers have found the online option to be more convenient.
If you sign for an approved online defensive driving course in Texas, you may be required to complete it within a specified amount of time after enrolling.
Usually, if you do not successfully complete your defensive driving course within the required time, you'll fail the course and won't be eligible for a refund.
Voluntary completion of a defensive driving course - online or in the classroom - can also help you become a safer driver and avoid accidents and traffic tickets in the future.
Drivers who prefer more hands-on learning and interaction may want to enroll in a classroom defensive driving course. Drivers looking for convenience and flexibility should enroll in an approved online defensive program.
Check with your car insurance company, traffic court, or the Texas DPS to find out which types of defensive driving/traffic school programs you can choose from.
While specifics vary based on your course provider, Texas defensive driving will typically cover:
- Texas road rules and regulations.
- Habits of safe drivers.
- Road signs and symbols.
- Driving techniques for hazardous conditions.
- Texas drunk driving laws and penalties.
Your defensive driving course can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours on average, and you'll be required to pass a final exam before earning a certificate of completion.
Your defensive driving certificate is what you will need to provide your traffic court or car insurance company to earn your ticket dismissal or insurance discount.
If you have received a traffic citation in Texas and wish to dismiss the ticket and keep it off your driving record, you'll need to take an approved ticket dismissal defensive driving course and complete it within 90 days of entering a plea.
The traffic court handling your case may send you a notice to inform you if you're eligible to have your ticket dismissed. If you didn't receive notification, check with the court before you enroll in traffic school.
Generally, to be eligible for defensive driving for a ticket, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- You were not driving a commercial vehicle when you received the traffic ticket.
- You haven't taken a court-ordered defensive driving course in Texas in the 12 months prior to receiving your ticket.
- You have a valid Texas driver's license.
- Your ticket wasn't issued for:
- Speeding at 25 MPH or more over the posted speed limit.
- Driving at 95 MPH or faster.
- Passing a school bus.
- A serious violation.
- Failing to stay and provide your information and assistance after your involvement in an accident.
- For a violation within a construction zone with workers present.
Dismissing a ticket will also prevent your car insurance rates from increasing as a result of your citation and you'll remove points from your driving record. Check with the Texas DMV to check how many times you can complete this course to dismiss a traffic ticket.
For more information about driving record points, please refer to our Point System in Texas page.
If your auto insurance provider offers a discount for completing a defensive driving course, then a course can be used to complete requirements mandated by your insurance carrier.
Always check with your car insurance provider first BEFORE enrolling in a course. In some cases, your insurance company may not offer discounts for completing traffic school/defensive driving.
If you are looking for a new car insurance provider, you should ask if they provide safe drivers discounts for defensive driving course completion. Sometimes defensive driving courses for car insurance rate reductions do not need to be TEA approved. Your car insurance provider should give you a list of acceptable courses.
If you have been cited for a seat belt violation, your local Texas traffic court judge may order you to complete a seat belt course. Be sure to enroll in a TEA-approved course in order to fulfill this requirement.