What’s the Difference Between Traffic Survival School and Defensive Driving School?

The Arizona MVD mentions Traffic Survival School and Defensive Driving School on its website as possible consequences of getting a traffic ticket. At first glance, you may think that they are synonymous, but in fact, they are completely different beasts. Defensive Driving School is usually a diversion program you attend to avoid having a ticket on your record. Traffic Survival School is a mandatory requirement for serious traffic violations.

Traffic Survival School
When you are convicted of a moving violation, you will get points on your driving record. If you get 8 or more points on your record in a 12-month period, you may be required to attend Traffic Survival School (TSS) or have your driver license suspended for up to 12 months. If you are convicted for one of the following offenses, you must attend TSS:

  • Running a red light or stop sign,
  • Aggressive driving,
  • Moving violations resulting in death or serious injury, or
  • Getting your first moving violation when you are under 18 years old.

The purpose of TSS is to improve your knowledge of Arizona’s traffic laws and change your attitude about safe driving.

You do not have the option to attend TSS online.

Defensive Driving School
Defensive Driving School (DSS) is a diversion program that you attend in lieu of being convicted of a moving violation. You are eligible to attend DDS for the most common Arizona traffic violations. Each DDS class is 4-4.5 hours long. Upon completion of the class, your ticket will be dismissed, no points will go on your driving record, and your insurance rate will not increase.

There are some limits regarding your ability to attend DDS to keep your ticket off your record.

  • You may not attend DDS if you have attended DDS for citation diversion in the past 24 months.
  • You may attend DDS only for 1 violation.
  • You may not attend DDS if you have a commercial driver’s license.
  • You must complete your DDS at a certified DDS program 7 days prior to your court date.

You may have the option of completing DDS online. This is a great option for non-Arizona residents who get traffic tickets while visiting the state.

If you cannot attend DDS during the time given by the court, the judge has the discretion to grant you 1 continuance. You must complete DDS at least 7 days prior to your new court date.