How to Find a Defensive Driving Course in California

You can get a list of defensive driving courses from the California DMV, but there are other options to consider as well.
Written by Alison Daurio
Edited by Pat Roache
The easiest way to find a defensive driving course in the state of California is to ask the DMV or your insurance company for a list of approved organizations—and completing one could earn you a discount on your
car insurance
  • Many DMV-approved online traffic school courses cost less than $30 to complete and will e-file your course completion certificate on your behalf.
  • Getting a certificate of completion from a defensive driving course can help California drivers remove one point from their driving record. 
  • Senior drivers in California may be able to earn a mature driver improvement discount upon successful completion of a defensive driving course

The best cheap online defensive driving courses in California 

Below is a list of online defensive driving schools in California with the following qualifications:
  • Each of these schools has been approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • They’ve all been in business for 15 years or more.
  • They cost less than $30 to complete.
  • They’ll e-file your course completion certificate with the CA DMV for you.
Contact information

A California defensive driving course removes one point from your driving record

How it works: California motorists who receive one point on their driver’s license for a moving violation such as
running a red light
can have it removed by completing a traffic school course. 
Since a California defensive driving course only removes a single point, motorists who have racked up a lot of traffic violations may still be at risk of getting their license suspended.
Here’s a rundown of the point thresholds for a
California license suspension
  • Four points over a 12-month period
  • Six points over a 24-month period
  • Eight points over a 36-month period
Attending driving school is a great way to
clean up your driving record
, but drivers with more than one point on their record will have to wait for them to fall off. Here’s how long it takes for  points to fall off your California driving record:
  • Minor violations: three years
  • Major violations: 10 years
Expert insight: Most insurance providers consider people with points from traffic violations to be
high-risk drivers
and charge them higher auto insurance rates. Using a driver safety course to remove a point from your record can potentially help you save money on your insurance premium.

California traffic school eligibility

California drivers are generally eligible to enroll in a defensive driver course after a moving violation, as long as they have a valid
California driver’s license
and meet the following criteria:
  • You have not completed a course within the last 18 months.
  • You have not committed a drug or alcohol-related violation (like a
  • You’ve paid any court fees associated with your violation.
  • Your traffic ticket did not result in a misdemeanor.
  • You were not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your violation.
What to expect: You should receive a notice of eligibility for traffic school from the California court presiding over your case. Drivers who haven’t received notice, aren’t sure if they qualify, or disagree with the court’s decision can call the court that issued their citation and request more information.

California defensive driving course curriculum

Drivers enrolled in a California defensive driver training course will learn tips and driving skills for: 
Here’s a brief rundown of some of the topics you’ll cover:
  • Accident statistics
  • The dangers of driving under the influence
  • Factors that affect the severity of accidents (like speed, location, and the size of vehicles)
  • Information about seat belts, airbags, and child safety seats
  • Accident prevention techniques (like proper following distance and how to safely pass another car)
  • Why you should pull over if you’re tired or stressed while driving
  • California traffic laws
Almost all defensive driving classes are purely informational and do not require hands-on demonstrations or road tests to pass.

Seniors can get an insurance discount by taking a defensive driving course.

How it works: Californians who are over 55 years old can attend defensive driver training in exchange for a
car insurance discount
usually between 5% and 15%. Contact your insurance agent to get exact figures and eligibility requirements.
Here’s what you need to know about senior defensive driving courses:
  • They can be completed either in-person or online
  • They usually last between four and seven hours. 
  • You’ll either take a first-time driver safety course or a renewal class depending on whether or not you’ve taken a defensive driving class in the past. 
  • Renewal classes are generally shorter in length than first-time classes. 
You’ll earn a “mature driver improvement” discount that lasts for about three years once:
  • You’ve passed the final exam, and 
  • Your traffic school sends proof of completion to your insurance company. 
Once it expires: Refresh your discount by taking another defensive driving course! 

Mature-driver improvement courses in California

A comprehensive list of mature driver improvement classes can be found on the
California DMV website
Here’s a rundown of some of the most affordable options, including
AARP’s Driver Safety Course
Riverside Community College
West Hollywood Mature Drive School
Cheap Easy Fast Mature Driver
AC SC/C SAA Safe Driving Program
Empire Driving School
California Mature Driver Course
Welcome Driver, Inc.
American Safety Council, Inc. 
I Drive Safely 
Economic Driving School
AARP Driver Safety Course
San Joaquin Safety Council
is a super straightforward process, and at each step, you can see exactly what coverage you’re paying for. Thanks to Jerry, I’m paying $900 less each year while keeping full coverage for my new car!” —Martin H.
Compare insurance quotes from 50+ carriers with Jerry in under 45 seconds
rating primary
4.7/5 App Store Rating. Trusted by 2+ Million Customers.


The exact length of a defensive driving course can vary depending on what state you live in, and the specific course you choose. The average length of traffic safety training in California is around 2.5 hours.
Defensive driving is the practice of following the rules of the road and making smart decisions behind the wheel to drive safely and avoid traffic infractions.
Compare Car Insurance Quotes For Free
Jerry automatically shops for your insurance before every renewal. Members save $872/year.
rating primary
Rating on App Store
Start saving money!
12,000+ Reviews
Trusted by 3.5M car owners like you

You might also be interested

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free