Driving Instruction

Interview With an Instructor: How to Keep Points Off Your License

March 31, 2022

If you’ve gotten a ticket in Virginia, you can reduce the number of points on your license by attending a driving school. However, you may not know anything beyond that. 

What’s traffic school really like? 

Are there differences between programs? 

What’s the difference between taking traffic school online vs. in person?

In today’s blog post we’ll interview a full-time driving instructor and get the inside scoop on a DMV-approved Driver Improvement Clinic (DIC). 

We’ll start with a clarification of the VA safe driving points program and how to reduce driving points in Virginia: 

  • How to check the number of points on your license in VA
  • How to earn safe driving points back on your license
  • How to keep demerit points off your license

After that we’ll give you an exclusive peek into the Driver Improvement Clinic from the point of view of a real instructor:

  • What curriculum is used
  • What kinds of activities and content fill the class time
  • The difference between in-person and online DIC

Let’s get started!

How Does the VA Safe Driving Points Program Work?

You get one safe driving point added to your license for every year you drive ticket-free in Virginia, and you lose a certain number of those points every time you get a ticket.  When your safe driving points go into negative numbers, then each ticket adds demerit points to your tally. The VA safe driving points program keeps track of how many points you have on your license at any given time. 

You definitely want to know how to keep demerit points off your license because, if you accrue too many demerit points in too short a period of time, your insurance rates could go up.  Also, the DMV will require you to attend driving school, and they might even suspend your license! 

If you already have had some tickets, you should know how to earn safe driver points back onto your license. 

How Can I Get Points Back on My License?

If you're asking “Ok, how can I get points back on my license?”, the first step is to check the number of points already on your license. In VA the DMV makes this information available on their website

Once you know your point balance, the easiest way to get safe driving points back (or reduce bad points) is to attend an approved Driver Improvement Clinic. Voluntarily attending Virginia traffic school will reduce the number of demerit points on your license and bring you back into the positive numbers of safe driving points.

How Many Demerit Points Does Driving School Take Off Your License? 

Up to 5 points all at once! 

This means that if you come into class with a -10 on your license, you can walk out with a -5. If you start out with a -3, you can leave with a +2.  

But there’s also another benefit: attending a Virginia traffic school doesn’t only reduce points on your license, it’s also a way to learn how to keep points off your license. Because most driving schools teach defensive driving techniques, you’ll learn in one day how to avoid a lifetime of tickets and accidents.

But which program is the best to attend in Virginia? 

There are many driving schools advertised online, but we’d like to give you a sneak peek into ours. This is your opportunity to meet Mary, one of our Colonial Driving School instructors, and learn why she loves teaching traffic school.

Interview with a Driver Improvement Clinic Instructor

When Mary (name changed to protect privacy) arrives in the morning, her energy level is already buzzing. She has long dark hair, bright eyes, and a confidence that fills the room. As students trickle in, Mary sips a cup of sweet, Colombian coffee from the snack table. She’s ready for the day!

Interviewer: What is the name of today’s class curriculum?  

Mary: We use the National Safety Council curriculum. It uses videos, interactive activities, and student discussion, all about the “6 Deadly Choices in Driving.”  (She ticks off the topics with her fingers.) Speeding, following too closely, distracted driving, turning improperly, driving left of center, and violating right-of-way.

I’m impressed by the comfortable way Mary lists off the topics. She’s clearly very familiar with the material. Mary goes on to tell me how, in her class, she applies the principles of these 6 deadly choices to life outside of driving. 

Mary: Your actions affect not only you but everything around you. I want my students to think about the bigger picture beyond themselves. I help them put on other people’s shoes - get another perspective. It’s all about empathy and emotional intelligence.

Mary starts her class by asking each person to say why they’re in the class. Everyone has a story. One mother had received three speeding tickets in two months. The DMV sent her a letter saying that if she got one more ticket, they’d suspend her license. 

One young man said he was hurrying home on New Year's Eve, hoping to arrive in time to watch the ball drop. Unfortunately, getting pulled over for speeding took longer than driving the speed limit would’ve. 

If students argue and defend their behavior, Mary pushes them till they admit they made a mistake. Then she compliments them for taking ownership of the mistake and responsibility for their actions. Mary admits that she herself had a wild childhood, and she’s not ashamed to own her own mistakes. 

Mary: No one needs to be ashamed, but they do need to take responsibility. Only when they take responsibility will they make different choices in the future. 

Throughout the day, Mary leads the students through a series of videos, discussions, worksheets, personal stories, and activities. 

Interviewer: Does the curriculum provide everything you need to teach the class?

Mary: Yes… technically. There are videos and worksheets. It’s possible to run the curriculum straight through like reading a script. But the teacher adds the “life” and relevance to the class. I teach the curriculum in such a way that it will change the students’ lives. 

Interviewer: What kinds of people do you think benefit the most from this class?

Mary: Everyone can benefit! But the people who benefit the most are young people and teenagers. They learn things they didn’t know, things they never even thought of. It’s a “reality check” for them. Then again, people in their 40s can also benefit a lot, because they’re set in their ways and in class they learn things they never knew! Oh, and also aggressive drivers benefit a lot. They need to know the facts about risk and liability, and they really benefit from new perspectives and empathy. Really, this class benefits everyone. 

Mary laughs. She goes on to say she thinks the Driver Improvement Clinic should be a requirement for everyone in order to get a license! 

Interviewer: In your opinion, is there a difference between taking the class in-person vs. online?

Mary: I think there is a big difference… The online version has all the information, but the teacher brings the class to life. It’s tempting to tune out if you’re alone with the computer. But in my class, students WILL leave different from how they came in. They will change their way of viewing things. 

The Best Virginia Traffic School: Reduce Your Points Today

At the end of the day, Mary passes around surveys and the testimonials speak for themselves:

“It was a really good class. It was a long day, but I learned a lot. It was relevant to me and easy to pay attention to because the teacher related it to life.”

“I feel Ms. Mary did great! She made me feel comfortable. She did everything well, from execution to how realistic she made everything.”

Today we have reviewed the VA safe driving points program, considered how to reduce driving points in Virginia, and reviewed how attending a Virginia DMV approved traffic school will reduce the points on your license. We also gave you a behind-the-scenes peek into the classroom of Colonial Driving School’s Driver Improvement Clinic. 

When it comes to Virginia traffic school, there are many options. But you heard it from Mary, “the teacher adds life and relevance to the class.” 

If you live in the Richmond, VA area and are looking for a great Driver Improvement Clinic, our in-person course at Colonial Driving School could be just what you need. Classes are held every Saturday and every other Wednesday. We also offer other driving programs, like private behind the wheel, teen driver's ed, and a 3-fail course.

Take our quick online quiz to learn which of our driving programs will meet your specific needs and requirements.