Defensive Driving in Washington

SUMMARY: Washington Defensive Driving & Traffic School Courses

Taking a defensive driving course/traffic school in Washington can help you become a smarter and safer driver. The state approves courses that can be taken voluntarily for a possible car insurance reduction and courses that could be required to fulfill a legal obligation.

All defensive driving courses are mandated by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).

Washington Traffic School Options

You may wish to complete a defensive driving course in Washington to:

  • Prevent a traffic ticket from appearing on your driving record.
  • Satisfy a court requirement.
  • Receive an auto insurance discount.

Traffic Tickets in Washington

Although the state of Washington does not dismiss traffic tickets, you may be able to stop the court from reporting your infraction to the DOL and having it added to your driving record.

NOTE: You must contact your local court prior to your appearance date to defer your traffic ticket by completing a defensive driving or traffic school course.

In addition:

  • You can't have any other citations pending.
  • Your ticket must be a minor moving violation only.

Check with the WA Department of Licensing to check how many tickets you can have deferred.

Washington Defensive Driving Court Requirement

If you have been ordered by the court to complete a defensive driving course to meet a requirement, you will need to take either of the following:

  • Level 1 Online Course for first-time offenders (8 hours).
  • Level 2 Course for habitual or serious violators (8 hours).

Insurance Discount with Washington Traffic School

Many insurance providers will offer a premium discount for those who voluntarily complete a defensive driving course. To find out if you're eligible to take a voluntary driver improvement course, please contact your car insurance company.

Defensive Driving Course Providers

You can take a defensive driving course at a commercial driver's training school or you can take it from an approved online provider. Many drivers find the online option more convenient as you can complete the course in the comfort of your own home and in your own time.

Washington Defensive Driving Requirements

Here are a few common requirements for attending traffic school:

  • You have a valid driver's license.
  • You were not ticketed for more than a single violation.
  • You have not taken a traffic school course previously (usually within a specific time period).
  • You were not driving a commercial vehicle when cited.

If you decide to complete an online traffic school course, your provider will usually require you to complete it within a specific timeframe. If you do not successfully complete the course by the required date, you will fail the course and you will not be able to get a refund. Classroom sessions are typically finished on the same day you begin them.

In most cases, a defensive driving or traffic school course takes between 8 hours and 8 hours to complete. You will usually need to take a final exam in order to receive a passing grade.

Your state or court regulations will determine if you're able to retake the final exam if you fail it. The Washington DOL determines how many attempts you are allowed.

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