Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has announced a new program that allows some Michigan drivers to avoid points on their driving records for minor traffic violations by taking an online basic driver improvement course.
“The new law recognizes that most drivers act responsibly behind the wheel,” said Secretary of State Spokesperson Fred Woodhams. “In part it’s an attempt to avoid costly insurance rate hikes.”
Under state law that became effective Dec. 31, 2010, motorists ticketed for offenses such as speeding, improper passing or disobeying a stop sign may qualify to have points from the citation kept from going on their driving record by completing a course and paying court fines and costs.
Only those who meet criteria will receive notification of eligibility to participate in the program from the Secretary of State’s Office.
“Those eligible have been ticketed with a civil infraction or minor traffic incident resulting in three or fewer points,” said Woodhams. “Misdemeanor charges do not qualify.”
“We will be sending letters to those who do qualify and if a person is eligible, we would tell them,” he said.
The first notices to eligible drivers were mailed this month and the eligible motorists have the option of taking a course online or in a classroom, according to Johnson. There are currently 10 course providers approved by the state that offer the required defensive driving curriculum.
“This program offers a strong incentive to those who have received a traffic violation to improve their skills and become safer drivers,” Johnson said. “It gives them the pointers they need and takes away the points they don’t.”
She added that these drivers are still being held accountable, but in a way that “safeguards against future violations.”
Eligible drivers have 60 days to arrange for and pass the course and may retake it as many times as necessary within that period. The provider electronically notifies the Secretary of State whether drivers pass or fail the course. If they ultimately do not pass, the points go on their record. If they pass, the points will not be added to their driving record.
The fee for the course is determined by the provider, with the total not to exceed $100. Drivers are still responsible for paying fines and court costs involved in the traffic violation. The course may only be used once to avoid points.
A driver is ineligible if he or she:
• Is in the 60-day period of course eligibility for a previous ticket;
• Has already avoided points under the program;
• Has a restricted, suspended or revoked license or was not issued a Michigan license;
• Has three or more points on his or her record;
• Held a commercial driver license or was operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the ticket; or
• Received a ticket that is not eligible for the program.
The law, sponsored by state Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy), also requires an approved sponsor to conduct a study every five years measuring the effectiveness how successful completion of the course is in reducing collisions and moving violations. The Secretary of State must then report those findings to the state Legislature.
For more information about the Basic Driver Improvement Course program as well as branch office locations and services, visit the Secretary of State website at michigan.gov/sos.