Last updated May 06, 2020 by John Goreham
Cheapest Michigan Basic Driver Improvement Course (BDIC)
All of these online traffic school vendors were on the SOS of Michigan’s approved courses list:
|Starting Price We Found Online|
|American Safety Institute Inc||$49|
|Traffic School Online||$34.95|
|American Safety Council||$34.95|
|Improv Traffic School||$19.95 + $17.50 state fee|
|Michigan Driver Improvement||$34.95|
|National Safety Council||$34.95|
For a complete list of courses approved by the SOS of Michigan please see the State’s website.
What is the Michigan Basic Driver Improvement Course (BDIC)?
The Michigan Basic Driver Improvement Course (BDIC) is a neat way to keep your costs of bad behavior in vehicles under control. If you’ve been acting badly behind the wheel you need to know how this State of Michigan program works and how it saves you money.
The State of Michigan is the intergalactic headquarters for muscle cars. One of Car Talk’s colleagues residing in Michigan lives across from the GM proving grounds and owns a 707 hp SRT Challenger Hellcat. That’s his daily driver. He also owns some other fast cars. He explained to us that in this area, there are no “twisty country roads.” It’s a grid, and the straightaways look a lot like dragstrips in many places. As he explained it, performance in America was forged by this convergence of local high-performance vehicle manufacturing and straight roads with lots of room to run. The inevitable result is traffic tickets. Lots and lots of traffic tickets.
The tickets hurt you two ways should you earn one. First, you need to pay the ticket, court costs, and fees related to your infraction. The Michigan BDIC cannot help you avoid those costs. Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine. However, like all states, the insurance companies in Michigan are allowed to penalize you as well for your infraction. Those insurance surcharges make the original fine look small. That’s where the Michigan BDIC comes in.
In most cases, if you received a “normal” traffic violation, and we're not setting a land speed record or committing a crime, the Michigan BDIC can help you offset those added insurance costs. The best news is that you won’t have to sit inside a musty old building with the “Group W” folks from Alice's Restaurant talking about what high crimes and misdemeanors you all committed to get there. Though that would make for a good story at Thanksgiving.
The Michigan BDIC can be completed online, and it costs you a lot less than the insurance company surcharges will. This is a classic example of spending money to save money, and the government is on your side. In fact, the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) is the head of this program, so it must be on the up and up. Presently, the Secretary of State of Michigan is Joceyln Benson. Before she was elected, Ms. Benson attended Wellesley College, Harvard, and Oxford. As a lawyer, she was once a legal assistant to Nina Totenburg at National Public Radio (where Car Talk has aired for decades). That makes her OK in our book.
How much does Michigan BDIC Cost?
Before we tell you what it will cost, let’s look at what it cannot cost by law. According to the Michigan SOS, the course must be priced at “less than $100.” Car Talk fired up our Blackberry Bold and did a quick bit of research on the actual cost of the program and found that it ranged from $29.95 at iDriveSafely.com to $35 pretty much everyplace else. We will skip the four-tab Lotus 123 spreadsheet of costs since the span of prices is about the same as a venti macchiato. You can rest assured that the multi-year insurance surcharge is a hefty multiple of that thirty bucks.
Why take the Michigan BDIC?
The list of offenses that you can commit and then still qualify for this insurance-offset program is impressive. Here is a quick rundown of the ill-advised things you can do and still qualify:
- Drive to fast (Speeding, but not by more than 15 MPH above the posted limit)
- Drive too slow (Failing to drive above the minimum posted speed)
- Perform your choice of 11 different improper passing maneuvers
- Let your cousin Jethro ride in the open bed of your pickup
- Refuse a breathalyzer under 21. (In our state that is an automatic loss of license)
- Blow through a railroad crossing (and survive)
- Interfere with fire apparatus
- Drive the wrong way down a one way street (this would be perfect for Cambridge Mass.).
- Drive a moped down a sidewalk (In the 1980s while wearing a Walkman)
- Tow more than one vehicle at a time
These are just the highlights. The bottom line is that unless you and your moll Bonnie Elizabeth Parker have been on a five-state, high-speed chase, this program will likely be your salvation. Here is a link to the full list of infractions you can consider if interested.
The SOS of Michigan clearly has your interests in mind. To avoid any confusion about who is eligible, the Secretary is going to mail you a letter if you qualify and tell you that you do. Once she sends you that letter you will have 60 days to complete the course. Or forever hold your peas.
How Long Does The Michigan BDIC Course Take To Complete
The official rules of the course outlined by the state say the course must take four hours to complete. Unofficially, reviews of the courses reveal it actually takes less time. Be prepared for one of those “Watch this video and then wait a while to answer a few questions,” type of courses.
Michigan BDIC: How Often Can You Use It?
This is one-time remediation. If you’re a habitual traffic offender, these courses aren’t going to help and you’re going to rack up all kinds of points and surcharges. Our advice? Slow down. Where’s the fire?
Which State-Approved Michigan BDIC Providers Have the Best Reviews?
Car Talk dug into the approved vendor listing to check some references. The first one we checked out was the Improv Comedy Traffic School. We did so based entirely on the fun name. The Yelp reviews reveal that the school is rated 3.5 stars out of five, but that the majority of users rated it 5/5. We could not find any evidence the course was funnier than others.
- iDriveSafely is an online driver’s ed provider well-known to Car Talk and we have verified the company's credentials in the past. In fact, this provider was named one of the Top 3 Driving Schools In the U.S. by Car Talk.
- DriversEd.com earns a score of ⅗ at Yelp. Most scores are either a 1 or a 5.
- We noted the $29.95 price for iDriveSafely.com and checked the provider’s references. This provider earned a score of 2.5 stars out of five at Yelp and the majority of scores were a 1. The low price may offset some concerns.
Car Talk suggests checking your selection at the Better Business Bureau. Also, Yelp has some helpful information. Reviews there are posted by date, so you can read the most recent ones first. Yelp’s reviews also have detailed descriptions of the course and the user’s impressions. Bear in mind that many low scores could be the result of user error accessing the site, or impatience. Users post negative reviews more often than positive ones. Remember, some of the folks taking this class are doing so because they opted out of a breathalyzer.
Can I Take the BDIC in Person?
If you really want to show up in person and take the BDIC, the state of Michigan has 31 locations at which you can do so. The sites span from Calhoun to Kalamazoo. Why anyone would do so rather than use a phone to complete it while also watching Tiger King and eating Bon Bons on the couch is beyond our comprehension.
For more information on the Michigan BDIC, please check out the full Q&A section on the State of Michigan SOS’s office site.
Q: How long does the Michigan basic driver improvement course take?
A: Roughly four hours.
Q: What is the Michigan basic driver improvement course (BDIC)?
A: It is a program that offsets insurance surcharges from one driving offense.
Q: How many points will be removed by attending a driver improvement course?
A: Best to check with your insurance provider to be sure.
Q: Can I take the BDIC online?
A: You’d be crazy not to.
Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers, and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.