How to Find Defensive Driving Courses in Massachusetts

A Massachusetts defensive driving course could help clean up your driving record and reduce your car insurance costs—just make sure it’s an approved course.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Hillary Kobayashi
Enrolling in a defensive driving course in
Massachusetts
is a great way to sharpen your driving skills—but it can also reinstate a suspended license or earn you a discount on your
car insurance
rates. But before you register and pay, make sure that it’s a state-approved course. 
Regardless of how safe a driver you are, there are always areas to improve—and a defensive driving course is a great place to start. If you’ve accumulated seven surchargeable events or moving violations (including those out of state) within three years, you could have your license suspended. But if you want to get it back, Massachusetts may require you to attend traffic school. 
Whether you’re looking to reinstate your license or to brush up on your driving skills, we have all the details about defensive driving courses in the Bay State. 
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Taking a defensive driving course in Massachusetts could…

…help reinstate your driver’s license

Massachusetts follows a point-based system that takes action against
high-risk drivers
by assigning points to different types of traffic violations. You could have your license suspended if you’ve accumulated seven surchargeable events or moving violations within three years, including out-of-state violations. 
If you’re facing a
license suspension
due to repeat violations, taking a defensive driving course may be required for you to get it back. You’ll need to:
  • Check the
    status of your license
    online to see what requirements are necessary for your specific case
  • Pay the reinstatement fee ($100 to $1,200, varies based on the violation)
For drivers with a Class D license, Class M license,
commercial driver's license (CDL)
, or learner's permit, you may be required to pass a specific test to reinstate your license. Additionally, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) may require a driver to complete one or more of the following classes or programs to have their
license reinstated
:
  • National Safety Council (NSC)/Massachusetts driver retraining program
  • State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR)
  • Driver attitudinal retraining
  • Drug or alcohol counseling and/or education program
  • Youth Alcohol Program (YAP)
If you’re required to complete one of these programs, you can find a complete list of
state-approved classes and programs
online.  

…earn you an insurance discount

Massachusetts may not have a driving point system that can directly lead to a suspended license, but
accumulating too many points will affect your car insurance rates
. The state uses a system called the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) that positively or negatively affects insurance premiums depending on the number of traffic violations and at-fault accidents you’ve accumulated
Surchargeable events can affect your driving privileges. The number of points depends on the violation:
  • Major traffic violation: five points
  • Major at-fault accident: four points
  • Minor at-fault accident: three points
  • Minor traffic violation: two points
But there is a way to reduce your insurance premium if you’ve accrued too many points—a defensive driving course.
Drivers who’ve received three moving violations or have other surchargeable incidents on their
driving record
within a 24-month period are required to complete a driver retraining course within 90 days. Failure to do so will lead to an indefinite license suspension until the course is completed.
Once you’ve completed a defensive driving course, you may be eligible for a
discount on your car insurance
premium. Generally, insurance providers offer a discount between 5% and 20% to drivers who have passed a driver training course. 
If you’re hoping to snag a deal on your insurance, here’s what you’ll need to do:
  • Contact your insurance provider and ask if you’re eligible for a defensive driver discount.
  • Find a defensive driving course that has been approved by your insurance company. 
  • Complete the course and send your certificate of completion to your insurance provider. 
Keep in mind that not all defensive driving courses in Massachusetts qualify for a discount on your premium. If you’re unsure of whether or not the course you want to take will earn you a discount, contact your insurance provider for details. 
Also, remember that certain providers only offer discounts for specific age groups, while others may offer a defensive driver discount to drivers of all ages. 
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…improve your driving skills

A defensive driving course is a type of training that is designed to help decrease the number of accidents by giving drivers the ability to anticipate basic driving scenarios. Generally, they teach drivers how to anticipate emergencies and unexpected actions of other drivers by covering safe driving practices, traffic laws, and accident avoidance strategies
Most defensive driving courses are offered online or in person; the former will typically use videos, animations, and quizzes to test your knowledge and understanding, while in-person classes typically involve group discussions and hands-on experience. 
There are plenty of options for defensive driving classes in Massachusetts, but regardless of whether it’s mandatory or not, enrolling in one can help improve your skills on the road and drastically reduce the risk of car accidents and traffic citations—and it can also save you money in the long run! 

How to find Massachusetts defensive driving courses 

Finding defensive driving courses in Massachusetts is pretty simple—but which one you take will depend on your needs. 
If you want to have your license reinstated, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) provides a list of state-approved defensive driving courses. You may be required to complete one (or more) programs:
For a defensive driving course that offers an insurance discount, your insurance provider likely has a list of specific courses that qualify for a discount. Contact your provider for more details on course requirements and approval.
The National Safety Council (NSC) website is also another great resource. It offers four courses—an eight-hour Driver Retraining Program, Online Distracted Driving Program, a four-hour Driver Attitudinal Retraining Program (Alive at 25), and a four-hour State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR) course. 
What you are required to take will be outlined in the letter you received from the MA RMV. If you complete the wrong course, you will not be issued a refund. 
Finally, there are many online traffic courses that are self-study.
iDriveSafely®
and
DriveSafe Online®
are among the most popular options, but the NSC also provides several
online options
for driver training courses. Before registering, contact the RMV or your insurance company to confirm the course will meet their requirements. 

How much is a defensive driving course in Massachusetts?

The cost for a defensive driving course in Massachusetts depends on which course you take, but generally, they are less than $100. However, the cost may vary based on the type of course and delivery format. 

How long is a defensive driving course in Massachusetts? 

Most defensive driving courses are between one and eight hours, with many around four hours. Online courses generally require less time and are self-paced, while in-person courses can take longer. 
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