Defensive Driving Courses In New York

WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich


New York is one of several states which track traffic violations with a point system. When a driver accumulates too many points, they could get their license suspended. Not only that, but they could see their insurance rates skyrocket. Fortunately, defensive driving courses in New York can help you get some points removed from your license and save money on your car insurance.

Get points removed in New York

There are two ways a driver can get points removed from their license in New York. The first is to take a PIRP-approved (Point and Insurance Reduction Program) defensive driving course. Motorists in New York State can also take an accident prevention course approved by the IPIRP (Internet Point and Insurance Reduction Program). 

How the point system works in New York state

Unlike other states which use a point system, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles uses it solely to keep track of high-risk drivers. If They feel a driver’s behavior is putting others at risk (based on the number of points on their driver’s license), they will suspend that person’s driving privileges. A motorist’s driving record will also impact how affordable – or expensive – their NY auto insurance rates are.

Point values for common traffic violations

Some traffic tickets won’t put any points on a driver’s license, including tinted windows, driving without a seatbelt, driving a vehicle with faulty equipment, or operating any motor vehicle which isn’t registered, licensed, or inspected. 

The table below helps New York drivers understand which violations will put points on their licenses. The larger the point value, the more severe the offense.

Traffic ViolationPoint Value
Failure to signal, improper turn, disobeying traffic control device, and most other moving violations2
Speeding 1 to 10 miles over the speed limit, failure to yield right-of-way, running a red light, disobeying a STOP or YIELD sign, unsafe lane change, driving wrong direction/left of center, leaving the scene of a minor collision, and child safety restraint violation 3
Speeding 11 to 20 miles over the speed limit4
Reckless driving, failure to stop for a school bus, improper cell phone use, texting while driving, and railroad crossing violations5
Speeding 21-30 miles over the speed limit6
Speeding 31 to 40 miles over the speed limit8
Speeding more than 40 miles over the speed limit11

Benefits of point reduction with an accident prevention course

Taking a defensive driving course helps drivers keep their driving privileges if they accumulate too many points too quickly. Traffic school will also pay for itself over time thanks to car insurance discounts.

Recalculating the way points are considered

According to the NY DMV, the points aren’t technically removed. Neither is the violation; that can stay on a driver’s record for anywhere between 4 and 15 years, depending on the severity. But those points are excluded from the final calculations. 

The New York State DMV keeps track of how many points a driver accumulates in the most recent 18 months. If they get 11 or more, they risk getting their license suspended. Remember that it’s the short-term total – not the lifelong total – which affects a driver’s privileges. For example:

  • A driver who gets 3 speeding tickets for 15 MPH over the limit once a year will accumulate 12 points, but won’t get their license suspended
  • A driver who gets two major speeding tickets and is cited for running a red light would likely get their license suspended if they accumulated all 11 points in less than 18 months

Taking a driver education course will exempt 4 points from the final calculation for any violations committed in the 18 months immediately before the course. But it will not reduce points below zero or be credited towards future violations. 

Furthermore, serious violations like DWUI, DWAI, or getting 3 or more speeding violations within 18 months are not eligible for point reduction. Lastly, point reduction is a preventative measure; the course won’t count after a license has already been suspended or a violation hearing scheduled. 

Receive a substantial auto insurance discount

When a driver completes a defensive driving course, they must submit their certification to the NYS DMV. The DMV then reports this information to the driver’s insurance company, which will apply a 10% discount to the base rate of the policyholder’s insurance premiums.

The best accident prevention and defensive driving courses in New York

The chart below displays the best accident prevention and defensive driver course providers in the state. They are ranked by affordability, but drivers should also consider factors like proximity, scheduling, and format before signing up for a class. Both online and classroom courses are available.

American Safety Inc.$19.95
New York Safety Program$24
National Traffic Safety Institute$25
Driver Training Associates$25
National Safety Council$25
American Safety Council$25
Online Defensive Driving Course by Improv$30
Empire Safety Council$45
I Drive Safely$49


How long is NY defensive driving course?

The course takes at least 5 hours and 20 minutes (320 minutes) to complete. Students who attend class in person may have their course split into two separate sessions. Online students have the flexibility to pause and learn at their own pace. 

What is the difference between NY defensive driving course and online defensive driving course?

The main difference is the format in which the material is presented. The curriculum is the same whether someone takes the class in person or online. Taking an online course gives more flexibility, but in-person may get it done faster.

How much is NY defensive driving course?

Online courses start at $19.95. The average cost is around $25 for both online and in-person courses. Drivers can earn car insurance discounts as high as 10% after completing the curriculum.  

Which online defensive driving course is best in NY?

This is largely dependent on the student’s individual needs and preferences. Looking up customer reviews online is a good place to start. From there, drivers should consider pricing and scheduling before making a final decision. 

Other ways to lower auto insurance rates after taking a defensive driving course

The 10% discount mentioned above is based on averages for the state. It’s not guaranteed your provider will honor that, even after you do all that hard work. It’s good to call ahead in advance to make sure your car insurance company provides discounts for defensive driving courses. If they say no, then it may be time to consider other auto insurance options