If you paid any attention to what your dad told you when you were a kid, you'll know that driving is a privilege and not a right. So if you've driven like a dope and racked up speeding tickets or accidents, the nice folks at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) are going to suspend that privilege. If you don't have a job or kids or other responsibilities, and you're fast enough to outrun the alligators, you can accept your fate and ride your 10-speed everywhere for the duration of the suspension. But if you're like the rest of us, you'd probably like to get your license back, tout suite!
Thankfully, Florida offers drivers with suspended driving privileges the chance to rehabilitate themselves, through Driver Improvement Schools that are certified and licensed by the state. If you're looking to take one of Florida's range of Driver Improvement Schools, we'll run you through the options, give you the basics on what to look for and help you find the best online options available.
If you've gotten a driving citation for speeding, or any other minor traffic infraction, Florida allows you to take a Basic Driver Improvement class to eliminate the assessment of points on your license. There's a clear procedure to follow when taking the class. Drivers must:
It's important to know that if you've let 30 days pass from the date of your citation, you're no longer allowed to take the course.
There are several significant benefits to taking Florida's Basic Driver Improvement course:
Not all drivers are allowed to take the Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course in Florida. If you meet any of the following descriptions, you will not be allowed to take the class:
For drivers who find themselves in even hotter water than just a minor ticket, Florida offers the Advanced Driver Improvement course (ADI). Similar to the Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course, the ADI is administered by an approved list of third party providers, but there are significantly fewer of those providers than those of the BDI courses.
As the name suggests, this course is a lot more advanced than the basic program. It requires 12 hours of education and the requirements are much more strict.
ADI courses are for drivers that aren't looking to just avoid points; they're for drivers that have had their license suspended. To be suspended for points, drivers have accumulated:
If you want your driver's license reinstated for points, for a DUI-related infraction or by court order, you MUST take an Advanced Driver Improvement course. Additionally, according to Florida's “Three Crashes in Three Years” law, drivers that have had three crashes in which they were at fault within three years must also take the ADI course.
Those drivers who have had three crashes in a 36 month period must:
If drivers fail to complete these requirements within 90 days, a conviction results in the cancellation of their driver's license.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides a list of more than 35 different vendors that can help you through the Basic Driver Improvement Course (BDI). These vendors offer courses in several different ways:
Classroom - If you've got plenty of time to kill, no place else to go, and a desire to meet strangers in a dingy room, then a physical classroom may be an option for you. These types of courses require that you show up at a predetermined location and sit in a classroom full of other offenders -- er, "students" -- and take the classes in person.
On the plus side, you do get more personalized education. There's an instructor present and depending upon how engaging they are, you can actually learn something. These classes are only four hours long, so it's not like you'll need to carve time out of your schedule for weeks on end. It's a half-day deal and you walk out with a certificate.
There are several approved vendors on the FLHSMV list that offer classroom instruction ONLY, and several others that have either a classroom or an online option.
Online - It's fair to say that in the late 2010s, most people are taking a Florida Basic Driver Improvement course online.
Online Traffic School allows you to complete a course with a lot more flexibility than courses offered in person.
If you have a job or a kid at home, an online course allows you to fit driver improvement into your schedule. The bulk of the approved vendors on the FLHSMV website have online options.
CD/DVD - If you're still walking around in a Member's Only jacket and your idea of entertainment on a Thursday night revolves around Friends, you may want to take one of the handful of options approved by Florida that provide instruction via DVD.
The requirements for Advanced Driver Improvement in Florida are a lot more stringent, and the vendors that provide these classes are much fewer and further between. At the time of this writing, Florida only approved of six vendors for the courses.
The Advanced Driver Improvement course requires three times the time commitment of the Basic Driver Improvement course. You need to complete twelve hours of instruction to receive your enrollment letter to have your license reinstated.
Similar to the Basic Driver Improvement course, you have a few options for completing your 12 hours of instruction:
Here's how we chose our recommendations:
All of the companies we've recommended are on Florida's list of approved driver improvement schools. If you're Googling "Florida Traffic School" a zillion potential vendors show up that would gladly take your money, but there's only a shortlist of schools that are approved to provide the Basic Driver Improvement classes, and only 1/6th of that number are approved to provide the Advanced Driver Improvement course.
By selecting one of the vendors on our list, you know that they've been approved to provide instruction in Florida.
Costs for these classes vary pretty significantly. Basic Driver Improvement classes can be as low as $5, while the Advanced Driver Improvement classes can be as much as $99. In general, the courses we recommend fall somewhere in the middle, hovering around $19 for a Basic Driver Improvement course, to around $65 for the 12-hour Advanced Driver Improvement course.
We visited a lot of traffic school websites with really sketchy names, and even sketchier websites. We've checked all of the sites we've recommended with Google's Transparency Report.
We narrowed our recommendations to online drivers ed programs that are highly popular on the web (as evidenced by number of users) and have at least 90% positive reviews on customer feedback websites that have at least 1,000 reviews from customers of the drivers ed company, and where applicable, top ratings with the Better Business Bureau.
Save time and money with online classes
Driver Improvement school is a service provided by a third party -- approved by the state of Florida -- that allows a driver to either reinstate a suspended license, or reduce insurance surcharges that have been assessed because of a traffic ticket or a reportable accident.
Florida allows vendors to provide both the Basic and the Advanced Driver Improvement schools online and in the classroom as a means of reinstating a suspended license or reducing points.
The cost for the Basic Driver Improvement course can be as low as $7, or as high as $24. We've seen a range of costs for the Advanced Driver Improvement courses from $62 all the way up to $99.
The Florida Basic Driver Improvement course is four hours. The Florida Advanced Driver Improvement course is 12 hours.
Yes. In Florida, the Basic Driver Improvement course is designed to help both reduce fines and eliminate points from your license. The Advanced Driver Improvement course is designed to reinstate a suspended license.
Yes, and in Florida, the course can also eliminate an adjudication against you for that ticket.
Taking classes online is often faster and cheaper than the classroom.