How to Find a Defensive Driving Course in California

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To find a defensive driving course in California, your best bet is to contact your local DMV or insurance company and ask for a list of approved courses.
A defensive driving course can drop your car insurance rates. Not to mention, it’s pretty easy to enroll. For as little as $5, you could take a course online or in-person and start reaping the benefits.
If you’re wondering what’s covered in a defensive driving course, how to find a course near you in California, and the advantages of completing a course, you’re in the right place. Insurance comparison shopping app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know.

List of best cheap online defensive driving schools in California

You can take a defensive driving course at any of the traffic schools on the following list.
All of them have been in business for at least 15 years, are approved by the DMV, cost less than $30, and will e-file your completion certificate after you’re finished. Just give them a call and you're on your way to taking a defensive driving course.
ProviderPriceContact information
5 Bucks Traffic School$5.00800-382-8723$7.95800-691-5014
Cheap Easy Fast Traffic School$12.95800-554-4912
Fast Lane Traffic School$17.99800-797-4888
Go to Traffic School$18.95888-329-7069
I Drive Safely$19.95800-723-1955
A1 Traffic School$20.00562-285-7820
Atlas Traffic School$21.95818-893-7676

Can a defensive driving course remove points from my record?

If you only have a single point on your record, then attending traffic school in California could potentially remove it.
These points usually come from simple moving violations like running a stop sign, speeding, or causing an at-fault accident.
If you can, it’s typically a good idea to remove points from your record. When you’re looking for car insurance quotes online, insurers can see the points attached to your record. More points mean that you’re a riskier driver and more costly to insure.
In short, bring your points down by taking a defensive driving course to lower insurance.
If you get too many points, your license will be suspended. In California, these are the thresholds:
  • 4 points over a 12-month period
  • 6 points over a 24-month period
  • 8 points over a 36-month period
Even people with a lousy driving record can find affordable car insurance—and a defensive driving course is a great place to start.
Key Takeaway By completing a defensive driving course, you can remove points from your record and lower your car insurance premium.

California traffic school eligibility

Traffic school isn’t quite like college, where you have to apply with a personal essay and pay tens of thousands of dollars. Nearly anyone can enroll.
Here are the criteria you must meet to be eligible:
  • Have not completed another course in the last 18 months
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Ticket is for an eligible moving violation (not alcohol-related)
  • Have paid the required court fees associated with your citation
  • Ticket did not result in misdemeanor
  • It was a non-commercial vehicle
The court will usually send you a notice of eligibility for traffic school after the incident. If you’re not sure if you qualify, or if you disagree with the court’s decision, call the court that issued your citation for more information.

Auto insurance discounts for senior drivers

Over 55 years old? You can take a traffic school course to unlock a discount on your car insurance. Yes, you do have more experience than all the other drivers on the road—but you’ve also been out of driver’s school the longest. That’s why senior drivers get a discount for taking a defensive driving course and refreshing their skills.
Defensive driving courses can usually be done entirely online in just four to seven hours. You will either take a first-time defensive driving or a renewal course.
  • Initial course is usually six–seven hours in duration
  • Renewal course is usually four hours in duration
Your ‘mature driver improvement’ discount can last for three years. You can refresh your discount by taking the course again.
Make sure your traffic school sends proof of completion to your insurance company to unlock your discount.
The average discount for mature drivers is between 5 and 15% on your annual premium, but it depends on your carrier. That’s hundreds of dollars each year!
And on the topic of lowering your car insurance, Jerry can help you compare rates among top-rated companies to find the most cost-effective option for your driving profile.
Key Takeaway Drivers of all ages can enroll in a defensive driving course in California, although only certain drivers will qualify for the insurance discounts.

What’s covered in a defensive driving course

In your defensive driving course, you’ll learn tips and techniques for how to drive safely, as well data that will make you a better driver. Here’s some of what’s covered:
  • Statistics about traffic accidents
  • Module about DUI dangers
  • Factors that affect the severity of an accident (speed, location, size of vehicles)
  • Role of seat belts, airbags, child safety seats
  • Accident prevention techniques (passing safely, proper following distance, braking distance)
  • Why to stop driving when you’re tired, angry, or stressed
  • California-specific traffic laws
The majority of defensive driving courses are purely informational. You will not have to complete any hands-on demonstrations or practice defensive driving techniques behind the wheel.

Mature-driver improvement course providers in California

There are affordable online and in-person options in California, including the AARP’s Safe Driver course.
The initial course costs a few dollars more than renewal because it’s a bit longer. There will also be a small fee for sending the certificate on to your insurance company, but it’s usually bundled into the overall course fee.
Riverside Community College District$1.00
West Hollywood Mature Drive School$10.00
Easy Fast Cheap Mature Driver$13.95
Mature Driver$17.95
Cheap Easy Fast Mature Driver$17.95
B Line Traffic School$19.55
ACSC/CSAA Safe Driving Program$19.95
Empire Driving School$19.95
California Mature Driver Training$19.95
I Drive Safely$19.95
WelcomeDriver Inc.$19.95$19.95
American Safety Council Inc.$19.95
Central Valley Traffic School$19.99
AARP Driver Safety Course$21.95
San Joaquin Safety Council$24.95
Economic Driving School$24.95


How long is a defensive driving course?

Defensive driving courses usually vary by state, but in California, the standard defensive driving course is 2.5 hours long plus assessment time.

What is defensive driving?

You may be wondering what defensive driving actually means. It's mostly in the name–defensive driving means being smart and defensive on the road by taking preventative measures to make sure you're safe and to prevent crashes with skills that go beyond basic driving school.

Final tips

The schools mentioned in this article are DMV-approved, affordable, and they will e-file your certificate of completion to make sure you get results fast.
Whether you’re doing a defensive driving course to remove points or get a discount, make sure you choose a school that is approved by your insurance company.
Another way to save money is to switch providers. Every insurance company has its own formula for calculating your premium. This means that the cheapest rate before an accident may not be the cheapest for you after one.
If you’re hesitant to switch plans or insurance providers because you’re worried about the work involved, don’t be. Use Jerry!
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