Side view window portrait displeased stressed angry pissed off woman driving car annoyed by heavy traffic isolated street background. Emotional intelligence concept. Negative human face expression

Florida Defensive Driving Course for Basic Driver Improvement (BDI)

Take a Florida Defensive Driving Course Online

The Florida Defensive Driving Course is a plan intended for drivers who have failed to fully meet their responsibilities behind the wheel in ways that could endanger themselves and those around them.

Much like the rest of the nation, the state of Florida has strict driving guidelines and laws that ensure the Sunshine State’s urban and rural traffic is in a state of harmony. Those who take on a steering wheel must abide by the traffic laws that surround them to ensure the safety of all.

While there are basic traffic violations that will land you a fine, there are stronger ones that may result in the temporary suspension of your permit or license. In these cases, your driving documentation will be penalized with points that hinder your privileges behind the wheel. In such a case, your local court may require you to take a special course to regain these privileges.

What Is the Florida Defensive Driving Course and Who Is It For?

The Basic Driver Improvement (BDI) course is an option that drivers with points have to take to eliminate the assessment of their points, as long as they’re willing to apply for the course in a timely manner.

To qualify for such a course, drivers must contact their local Florida DMV within 30 days of the moment in which they received the traffic citation that resulted in their points. Before you can attend a BDI course, you must inform the clerk of court in the county where the citation was issued.

The driver then needs to pay a fee to the clerk of court in the county of the citation before being accepted for the BDI course. If you are unable to complete this entire process within 30 days of the citation, you will not be eligible for the course, which is essentially your best option moving forward when you accrue points.

There are a number of options you can go with when choosing a course, but the only requirement is that the course must be an approved one by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The best course in the market is offered by the American Safety Council® and is approved by the Florida DHSMV.

What Sets of Circumstances Will Require Me to Take the Course?

You will be given three options on how to satisfy the traffic citation in the eye of the law, all of which are offered on the back of the citation. The state of Florida requires you to choose an option within 30 days of the citation date.

Under some sets of circumstances, a BDI course is mandatory, including the following:

  • You will be required to take the course in exchange for eliminating the points on your driving privileges accrued from a citation.
  • In a situation where you, as a driver, were cited for a crash in which you were found to be at fault and someone was injured badly enough to be sent to the hospital, a BDI course is mandatory.
  • While crashes that result in injury are the worst ones that could happen, you will also have to take the course if you take part in two crashes within a two-year period that each result in property damage greater than $500.
  • Drivers in Florida or drivers in another state holding a Florida license must take a BDI course if convicted of one of the following:
    • Passing a school bus when it displayed a stopped signal
    • Racing on a highway
    • Serving as a spectator to highway racing
    • Driving recklessly
    • Running a red light

What Does the Point System Look Like?

Everyone who drives in the state of Florida should learn basic driving improvement, the essentials of safe driving, as well as what the point system looks like. Points are given to drivers who are responsible for moving traffic violations where an adjudication of guilt is found.

The first thing you must know is that accumulating too many points during a short time period can cause your license to be suspended. These include amassing 12 points within 12 months, 18 points within 18 months or 24 points within 36 months.

Traffic Infractions that Results in Citations

  • Moving violations: 3 points
  • Speeding 15 mph or fewer over the posted speed: 3 points
  • Speeding more than 15 mph over the posted speeds: 4 points
  • Passing by a stopped school bus: 4 points
  • A moving violation in which there is no speeding, but results in a crash: 4 points
  • An unlawful speed that results in a crash: 6 points
  • Reckless driving (in the form of a criminal traffic violation): 4 points
  • Leaving the scene of a crash with damage: 6 points
  • Littering: 3 points
  • Violating the child restraint laws: 3 points

What Does the American Safety Council System Cover?

The course offered by the American Safety Council offers an easy and convenient opportunity to get those points removed off your license. Everyone in the state of Florida who has gotten a ticket is eligible for the BDI course, which is completely online, saving you time you would’ve otherwise spent at the DMV.

It will also save you money and it is entirely approved by the Florida DHSMV. Videos of the course are offered in English and Spanish and you can find them in the form of DVDs or tapes.

The course itself is also the fastest one out there as it is only a four-hour traffic school designed to remove points and eliminate your ticket. The American Safety Council splits up the course into seven easy modules, which each module requiring a minimum amount of time to complete it.

Beyond the minimum time requirement for each module, you can take as long as you want to complete it. You can then take the final exam up to three times as you need an 80% or higher to pass. Once you do finish your final exam, the American Safety Council will begin processing your certificate of completion.

The course itself has an introduction to ease you into the questions, along with a number of quizzes to guide you and a final exam at the end. Once you complete the course successfully, your certificate will be processed and you can choose the best delivery method to fit your situation.

These include US first class mail, expedited overnight or second day. Another delivery option is upgrading your status so you can get your certificate sent to you via email.

If you fail the quizzes three times, you will be required to re-register, but at no additional cost. The plan will ultimately ensure that your Safe Driver status will be intact, while your record will be free of points and your insurance rates will remain low.

In addition to ensuring that your insurance premiums will not increase, finishing the American Safety Council’s BDI course will also guarantee that your insurer cannot cancel your policy unless you were at fault. Plus, in some cases, you can get an insurance discount if you take the BDI course, depending on your insurance company’s policies.

Another one of the advantages of registering with the American Safety Council is the cybersecurity attached to the agency’s system. Any personal information that you offer its servers will be transmitted using 1280-bit SSL encryption, which is considered the industry standard for such a service.

This type of encryption is also often used for online banking, as well as in the online commerce industry across the world. You can make sure that the site is using strong encryption when you choose “Register” as the address bar that shows your URL on your Internet browser will start with https.

This is a signifier of a secure standard for online transactions that protects your browsers. There are other symbols that reassure you that your information is being encrypted in different browsers, such as the padlock symbol on Internet Explorer and Chrome, as well as the green bar in Firefox and Chrome.

Another benefit of having a course that is entirely online is the fact that you don’t have to deal with the classroom setting, meaning you don’t have to take the course in one sitting. This online traffic school is convenient for its users as. Once you register, you can log in and out of the course as many times as you want at any time of the day, seven days a week.

When you do log out, the system remembers where you were down the line, returning you to the same point once you log back in. There are no requirements regarding how long the course should take, but the most successful users often complete the course within three months of the time you registered.

A teenager sitting in the driver's seat of a car, looking through the window smiling at the camera.  Her father or a driving instructor is sitting in the passenger seat.  She is learning how to drive.

What Else Should I Know?

Drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 should know that they must hold their Florida learner’s license for at least 12 months without getting a traffic conviction before they are eligible to apply for a Florida Class E driver’s license. The BDI course from the American Safety Council offers a way out to these drivers as they will be on track to get their licenses if they complete the course.

A driver under the age of 18 who accumulates six or more points within a 12-month period will automatically be restricted to driving for “Business Purposes Only” for one year. If any additional points are accumulated, the restriction is extended by 90 days for each additional point received.

Also note that you will still have to pay your fines once you complete traffic school. If you do not know how much you owe, you can confirm this information with the Traffic Division of the clerk of the court in the county where you received your citation.

The BDI program can only be taken once a year, and no more than five times total. Once you do finish the program, you will need to provide the completion certificate to the clerk’s office in the county where you received your citation. Each county has different regulations regarding the process, so make sure to contact your clerk.

If you’re not sure where you have to file your certificate, you can check the county court locations page to find your county clerk’s information. You can also refer to the Florida driver’s handbook.

Florida visitors who are not residents can still take the course if they get a ticket while visiting, and the same process applies. If you have a commercial driver’s license, you cannot take traffic school. Contact your court to check whether or not your type of license is eligible for traffic school.

What Perks Does a BDI Course Offer Me in the Future?

If a driver chooses to take a BDI course which they attend and successfully complete, they will receive a number of benefits that go beyond the improvement of their driving record, including the following:

  • No further points can be added to your driver’s license of record if adjudication of guilt is withheld. This option is limited to some drivers as those who have attended a BDI course in the preceding 12 months will not be offered this privilege. Also, make note of the fact that you will not be able to take a BDI course more than five times throughout the course of your life.
  • A certain amount of protection from insurance companies will be granted to you as these providers cannot impose an additional premium on your rate. They are also unable to refuse to renew a policy for motor vehicle insurance solely because you committed a non-criminal traffic infraction—there are certain exceptions to this option, such as when you are penalized with a second infraction within 18 months, a third infraction within 36 months or if you exceed the speed limit by more than 15 mph.

How Do Teens Obtain a Florida Driver’s Permit?

To attain a learner’s permit in the Sunshine State, the driver must be at least 15 years old. If they are under the age of 18, they must get a signed/notarized Parental Consent Form to learn. Stepparents may not sign the document unless they have legally adopted the minor child.

The next step is for the driver to complete the Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education (TLSAE) course and show the certificate of proof. Once they initiate this process, the driver must then pass a vision and hearing test conducted in a service center.

The driver then has to pass a Class E Knowledge Exam that tests them on the state’s traffic laws. The best way to practice for the exam is by looking at a copy of the Official Florida Driver License Handbook.

The exam itself consists of 50 multiple choice questions about traffic laws and traffic signs. The score to pass the exam is 80%, or 40 out of 50 questions. Finally, the learner needs to provide documents to establish proof of identity, proof of social security number, as well as proof of residential address.

How Do Teens Obtain a Florida Driver’s License?

The first requirement to getting a driver’s license in Florida is that you must be at least 16 years old, and you must hold a learner’s license for at least one year or until you reach age 18—whichever comes first.

You will need help from a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult over the age of 21 who is capable of completing the Certification of Minor Driving Experience Form for you, which certifies that the driver has 50 hours of driving experience, out of which 10 hours must be at night.

The driver must have no moving violation convictions for one year from the learner’s license date of issuance, or they can have one moving violation as long as an adjudication of guilt was withheld.

You must pass the Class E Driving Skills Test, plus the vehicle used for the driving test must have a number of valid documents such as a registration, a proof of insurance and it should pass a basic vehicle  inspection conducted by the driver’s license examiner to make sure it is safe for a driving test.

Documents must be provided to establish the driver’s proof of identity, proof of Social Security number, plus proof of residential address. The Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws permit teen drivers to gain driving experience under lower-risk conditions before they can attain full driving privileges.

The teen must drive during the daylight hours for the first three months after the license is issued, and until 10:00 pm after three months. They must always be accompanied by a licensed driver aged 21 and more.

Sources: 

FSHMV: https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/education-courses/driver-improvement-schools/basic-driver-improvement-bdi-find-approved-listing-bdi-course-providers/

FSHMV: https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/licensing-requirements-teens-graduated-driver-license-laws-driving-curfews/

State of Florida.com: https://www.stateofflorida.com/drivers-handbook.aspx

FSHMV: https://www.flhsmv.gov/pdf/forms/71142.pdf

FSHMV: https://www.flhsmv.gov/resources/handbooks-manuals/