One of the most common questions we hear from clients charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia is whether they need to take a Driver Improvement course before going to court. The answer is surprisingly complicated. A few factors to consider:
1) What State am I licensed in?
If you are licensed in Virginia, taking a DMV-approved driver improvement course will restore up to five points on your record, which can significantly improve your driver record. However, if you’re licensed in another state, you may not get any credit on your driving record. If not, you may end up spending 4-8 hours and up to $100 to get a piece of paper that your prosecutor may not care about. Your lawyer will know whether or not a driver improvement course will improve your point balance in the state you’re licensed in.
2) What is my DMV Point Balance?
For Virginia drivers, points will only be added to your record for taking Driver Improvement once every two years. This makes a huge strategic difference for those trying to decide whether to take Driver Improvement before or after court. For example: Say you have a +3 Virginia DMV record. If you take Driver Improvement before court, you would normally add five points to that point balance. But the highest possible point balance in Virginia is +5. So if you take Driver Improvement before court, you will only get two points instead of five (and then you can’t take Driver Improvement again for another two years!). But if you wait until after court (assuming that you end up getting points as a result of your case), then you’ll likely get the full five points. This can get complicated — be sure to ask a lawyer how to proceed before taking driver improvement to make sure you get it right!
3) What court is my case being heard in?
Though it may be surprising, different courts in Virginia have different policies about Driver Improvement. In Fairfax, taking driver improvement before court can be helpful. Many prosecutors will reward a defendant for taking driver improvement and also for having a higher point balance. In Prince William and Arlington, however, the Court will often make Driver Improvement a condition of a reduction in your charge, and in some cases, will say you’re ineligible for a reduction if you have taken Driver Improvement before court! Knowing how each court’s policy is the kind of thing that an experienced Virginia traffic lawyer can advise you about.
If you’ve read this far, you probably have more questions about how to handle your Reckless Driving or Speeding case. Call us today at 703-934-8580 for a Free Consultation.