Should a traffic court defendant go to driving school before his scheduled court date? I tell my clients that the answer depends on what your driving record looks like, what the pending traffic charge is for, and the particular judge that will hear your case. Usually, if my client has a perfect (+5) record and is charged with a minor traffic offense (such as a moving violation that is not a criminal misdemeanor charge), I would not recommend taking the driver improvement course before going to court.
My analysis may be different for more serious charges, such as the criminal charge of reckless driving, depending on the jurisdiction my client is charged in and the particular facts of his case. Some jurisdictions appreciate driving school more than others. Each court has particular customs and norms and it is important to use an attorney that is familiar with what the judges normally do. Also, in some cases where my client is charged with reckless driving, I may believe that the evidence doesn’t support a finding of guilt and taking a driving course is unnecessary. (For example, reckless driving charges where hydroplaning or a medical emergency was involved.)
Under Virginia’s DMV point system, a Virginia licensed driver will get a point for each year that he or she holds a Virginia license without getting any violations or suspensions. The maximum positive point balance is +5 points. If my client is charged with a minor traffic violation and already has a +5 point balance, it may be possible to negotiate a disposition where my client agrees to take the driver improvement course in return for a reduction or dismissal of the charge. In other words, we might be able to use the driver improvement course as a bargaining tool. We may be able to get the disposition my client wants without this required stipulation and I may be able to save my client from having to spend a whole day in a driver improvement class.
If your driving record is not stellar, taking a driver improvement course before going to court may improve your point balance. Under Virginia’s DMV point system, you can improve your record by five points by taking a DMV approved driver improvement class. Clients of mine have used License Saver Driver Improvement or Affordable Driving School in Virginia Beach. They have seen their point balance improve within a few days of taking the course. You can even take an online course from IDriveSafely. After you complete one of the courses mentioned above, you will be given a Driving School Completion Certificate, which we can show the judge. I recommend that you get an updated driving record transcript from the DMV so we can show the judge your record reflecting the updated point balance.
Taking a driver improvement course can also reduce your insurance rates if your particular insurance company offers a reduction for such courses. In one instance, I had a client with a reckless driving charge dismissed upon him showing proof to the court that he completed a driver improvement course. He then found out that his insurance would go down 5% for 3 years as an added bonus.