What Is the Virginia Driver Improvement Program?

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    According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, a motor vehicle accident occurs once every three minutes in the state. This high frequency of car crashes prompted legislators to create a program to promote better driving practices. Thus, the Virginia Driver Improvement Program was born to reward favorable driving and re-educate or penalize those with motor vehicle infractions.

    How the Virginia Driver Improvement Program points system works

    Drivers are rated by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles using a points system. Safe points are awarded each April for every full calendar year with no moving violations; they are also awarded for completion of a driver improvement clinic. The value of safe points are as follows:
    • Year of no moving violations, determined each April: 1 Safe Point
    • Completion of driver improvement clinic: 5 Safe Points
    Demerit points are assigned when a driver is convicted of a traffic violation. The number of demerit points assigned under the Virginia Driver Improvement Program varies according to the severity of the infraction.
    The penalties and value of demerit points are far harsher for commercial drivers with many violations staying permanently on the DMV record.

    Driver improvement courses

    Driver improvement courses may be required by the court system, DMV, or your insurance company. To increase the number of safe points, however, these courses can also be taken voluntarily under the Virginia Driver Improvement Program.
    Participants in driver improvement courses must present a government issued ID upon arrival, and results for the clinic are reported to the DMV within 24 hours of program completion. It may, however, take a little longer for safe points to be added to the DMV record.
    These courses outline defensive driving techniques to prevent accidents on the road. They are available in person and online, although drivers under 18 and those court-ordered to complete a driver improvement course are likely required to participate in in-person training. Course prices may vary but are generally under $100.

    Benefits of the Virginia Driver Improvement Program

    The biggest benefit of the Virginia Driver Improvement Program is providing an incentive for safe, responsible driving. Drivers defined as safe according to the points system frequently get insurance premium reductions. Favorably rated drivers can also boast to friends about their driving habits.
    The Virginia Driver Improvement Program, while deterring poor driving habits, also provides a clear pathway to fulfill court requirements and get back on track. The utilization of the points system is transparent, so drivers know when points fall off their record and know the risk of bad driving.

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