Do You Have to Go to Traffic School After a Ticket?

There is no requirement for you to go to traffic school after receiving a ticket in Illinois. If you have committed an eligible violation and you are given the option to attend traffic school by a traffic court judge, it is almost always in your best interest to go, however. Successful completion of traffic school can help save you money on insurance rates, avoid a license suspension, learn about updated traffic laws, and become a safer driver. Ultimately, paying the traffic school fee can often be the cheapest way to proceed in many cases.

At Illinois Traffic Lawyers, we have the expertise you need to come out ahead in your traffic case. We can answer any questions you have about your charges, offer you legal counsel on how best to proceed, and represent you in court if your case goes to trial. Call us today at (708) 465-1040 or schedule an appointment online for a free initial consultation.

Table of Contents

The Point System

All issued tickets will have a financial penalty associated with them, and some will also result in points being added to your driving record. 

Depending on the type of violation, tickets may assign different numbers of points to your Illinois driver’s license. A speeding ticket may range from five points up to fifty points depending on the following factors:

  • Speeding 1-10 MPH over the limit – 5 points
  • Speeding 11-14 MPH over the limit – 15 points
  • Speeding 15-25 MPH over the limit – 20 points
  • Speeding 25+ MPH over the limit – 50 points
  • Speeding in a school zone – 20 points
  • Speeding in a construction zone – 20 points

Different states have different rules regarding points for moving violations. In Illinois, a license suspension or revocation will not be entered until the driver has been convicted of a certain number of moving violations within a set time frame, regardless of the number of points accrued. Once they hit the limit for moving violations, the number of points they have against their license will be used to determine the length of the suspension or whether a revocation will be handed down.

Drivers 21 and Older

If a driver 21 years old or older receives three citations for moving violations during one year, the Secretary of State will calculate add up the number of points assigned to them and determine the length of their license suspension as follows:

  • 15 to 44 points – 2-month license suspension
  • 45 to 74 points – 3-month license suspension
  • 75 to 89 points – 6-month license suspension
  • 90 to 99 points – 9-month license suspension
  • 100 to 109 points- 12-month license suspension
  • 110+ points – License Revocation
how traffic points affect a license suspension - infographic

Drivers Under 21

If a driver under 21 receives two traffic violations resulting in convictions within a 24-month period, the Secretary of State will add up the number of points on their driving record and assign a license suspension as follow:

  • 10 to 34 points – 1-month suspension
  • 35 to 49 points – 3-month suspension
  • 50 to 64 points – 6-month suspension
  • 65 to 79 points – 12-month suspension
  • 80+ points – License Revocation

Learn More: How to Reduce Points on Your License

Traffic School and License Points

The traffic court judge you see may allow you to attend a defensive driving school in order to avoid having any points added to your driver’s license and possibly even to avoid a ticket. This will depend on your driving history and the reason you received a ticket and is at the judge’s discretion. If you are allowed this option you will have to present a certificate of completion to show that you took the course in its entirety and passed. 

Paying the Fine

You may be considering simply paying the fine for your traffic citation and moving on. It will save you time and stress so it may seem like the logical decision, but it may not be your best course of action. Traffic tickets can have a significant impact on your wallet in a way you might not be expecting. 

When you receive your ticket and pay your fine, your traffic violation will be recorded on your driving record. This could and often does, result in a steep increase in your insurance rate, which means that rather than the one-time payment you were anticipating to deal with your ticket, you now are paying more every month. 

These increases in insurance premiums can often be substantial, even in the 20-30% range, and stick with you for years. You could realistically be looking at paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more for your insurance than you would have without the traffic violation. 

If you are able to attend traffic school to avoid points, remove points, or even avoid the ticket altogether, it should be one of the easiest decisions you will ever make. Take your traffic school courses, get your completion certificate, and save money in the long run. 

Fight Your Ticket

If you have been charged with a traffic violation you may be able to avoid the consequences by fighting the charge in traffic court. 

If you choose to take this route you will want an experienced traffic attorney on your side. They will be able to help you choose the best options for you, negotiate beneficial plea deals on your behalf, and build an aggressive defense strategy for your case. 

If you have already been convicted of a traffic violation, you may still be able to have the points and conviction removed from your record through a motion to vacate. In this case, you will absolutely still want to work with an attorney. Their courtroom experience and knowledge of local traffic laws could prove invaluable to your case, two areas in which most people are lacking. 

When you are planning to fight your traffic ticket or file a motion to vacate your best bet will be hiring a talented legal professional to guide you through the case and help you find the best path forward. 

Learn More: How to Prepare for Traffic Court

Failing To Complete Traffic School On Time

If the traffic court judge gives you the opportunity to remove your penalties by attending traffic school, be sure to finish it within the time frame they give you. 

Failing to do so will result in you losing the fees you pay to the traffic school, paying the fine on your ticket as well as any associated court costs, and still receiving the points and conviction on your driving record. These will, in turn, likely result in insurance rate increases which will cost you even more money in the future. 

Benefits of Traffic School

If you are facing traffic charges and are eligible for traffic school, it is nearly always your best choice. Some of the key benefits to completing a defensive driving class or traffic school course include:

Masking Your Ticket

One of the biggest benefits of traffic school is having the opportunity to keep points off of your public driving record. A higher point count in Illinois can lead to lengthy suspension times or even revocation of your driver’s license. If you are given the chance to prevent these points from being entered on your record you should take it.

a woman taking driving courses to reduce points on her license

Saving on Insurance Payments

This goes in hand with the first point, if you can mask points and traffic tickets from your driving record, then they will never be reported to your insurance provider. Auto insurance companies will raise rates for customers who are convicted of traffic violations, and this can end up costing you big over time. 

Avoid a License Suspension

Illinois is a three-strike state for moving violations. Once you have met that threshold you may lose your driving privileges, with the length of your suspension depending on the number of points on your driving record. If you are eligible for traffic school to avoid points or a conviction from being added to your record this could help you avoid a suspension. 

Keep Your Employment Options Open

Depending on the job and employer, you may be required to take a background check when applying for a new position. If the job is driving-related, you could massively reduce your chances of receiving a job offer if you have points on your record. Even if it is not driving-related your prospective employer may look at the points on your record as a sign of irresponsibility and choose someone else over you. 

Becoming a Safer Driver

This is a benefit that should be obvious, but often gets glossed over when discussing the other ways that traffic school can immediately benefit you. Traffic laws are constantly updated, and taking an up-to-date driving course can give you the chance to catch up on any changes, while also refreshing more familiar ones. You may also learn some useful defensive driving strategies that can help you avoid accidents and keep you, your family, and your friends safe when you are behind the wheel. 

Work With an Experienced Illinois Attorney

If you have been charged with a moving violation you could see the consequences in a number of ways. Other than the fine, you may face increased insurance rates, license suspension, and possibly mandatory court time. A talented traffic attorney may be able to help you avoid these by providing you with quality legal counsel, negotiating beneficial plea deals, and representing you in a trial if it comes to that. At Illinois Traffic Lawyers we are ready to help you with whatever traffic charges you face and will devote ourselves to getting the best possible resolution for your case. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation! 

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