A new state program that allows some Michigan drivers to avoid points for minor traffic violations by taking an online Basic Driver Improvement Course is up and running, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

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 the citation dismissed and points kept from going on their driving record by completing a course. 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 online or in a classroom. There are currently nine course providers approved by the state that offer the required defensive driving curriculum.

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 and the violation 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.

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).