Driving School

            Completion of a defensive driving course can be very valuable to the defense of a reckless driving charge.  Completing a defensive driving course prior to your scheduled court date can be a valuable tool used to get the best possible outcome for your case.  There are several issues to be mindful of when choosing whether to complete a defensive driving course and which course to take.

            Judges can differ significantly when it comes to the value they will place on driving school.  Some judges refuse to order defendants to take driving school, some will only use driving school for exceptional cases, and others rely solely on driving school as a means of reducing reckless driving charges.  Therefore, the first question you will want to ask is how receptive a judge will be to completing a defensive driving program prior to your court date.

            You must also be careful you choose the correct driving school for your individual case.  Driving courses can range in length from six hours up to twelve hours.  The standard defensive driving course in Virginia is eight hours.  Many other states, such as New York, offer six-hour courses for insurance rate reductions.  This course will not be accepted by most judges in Virginia and is probably not the best option for a Virginia traffic case.  For high-speed cases I often get my clients to complete a 12-hour aggressive driving course.  The length and subject matter of these courses can show that a client is very concerned about their case and willing to do what it takes to avoid a conviction.  There are two primary sources I use for 12-hour courses.  The first is offered through the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and is called Reckless/Aggressive Driver Education Program (RADEP).  This is a two-day, in person aggressive driving school.  The other primary source is one of the many 12 hour courses offered online out of Florida.  The state of Florida uses 12-hour driving schools with great frequencies and has many online programs available.

            If you choose or are required to take the standard 8-hour driving school, you want to ensure that you have picked the correct course.  First, you will want to establish whether the particular judge or court dealing with your case will accept online driving course.  Some courts, such as Richmond, refuse to accept online courses and instead require in-person schools. If the court will accept online courses, out of state drivers taking an online course must be sure to pick a course that is completely online.  Many online courses require you to return to Virginia to take the final exam associated with the course.  This is not a very feasible option for many out of state clients.  I am aware of several 100% online course and would be happy to provide additional information about these courses.

            In Virginia, DMV will add five positive points to your driving record if you complete driving school voluntarily and submit the certificate of completion to the DMV.  When signing up to take a defensive driving course you should be given the option of court ordered and voluntary for points on your record.  It is important to take the court ordered course when completing it prior to your court date.  Clients in the past have tried to be proactive and take driving school prior to consulting me about their charge.  When you take the voluntary course, the judge is likely to see that DMV has added five positive points on your driving record because of the completion of a defensive driving program.  Many judges will refuse to give you credit for the driving school in court, because you have already received the benefit of the positive points added to your record.  It is very important to be careful when choosing whether to complete a defensive driving course and which course is appropriate for you.