Michigan drivers can avoid some points on license 2011.08.17

Written by David Green.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has announced a new state program that allows some Michigan drivers to avoid points for minor traffic violations by taking an on-line Basic Driver Improvement Course.

Under a 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 several restrictions will receive notification of eligibility to participate in the program from the Department of State.

The first notices to eligible drivers were mailed last month, Johnson said, and they have the option of taking a course on-line or in a classroom. 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.”

“These drivers are still being held accountable, but in a way that safeguards against future violations,” Johnson added.

Eligible drivers have 60 days to arrange for and pass the course and may retake it as many times as necessary within that time. The provider electronically notifies the Secretary of State whether drivers pass or fail. If they ultimately do not pass, the points go on their record. If they pass, the Department of State will not add any points.

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 not eligible 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.

• received a ticket that is not eligible for the program.

The law, sponsored by Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy), also requires an approved sponsor to conduct a study every five years measuring the effectiveness the successful completion of the course has in reducing collisions and moving violations. The Secretary of State must then report those findings to the 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 (www.Michigan.gov/sos). Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at 888/767-6424.

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