Driving School Before Court – Think Twice

If you have a Virginia traffic ticket, you might be thinking about doing a driver improvement clinic in preparation for your court date. But did you know that doing that could hurt your case? Let me explain why.

Virginia’s driver improvement clinics are designed to teach people how to drive safer. You can attend a clinic for a variety of reasons:

  • Court-ordered for a ticket
  • DMV requirement due to point accumulation
  • Insurance premium discount
  • Point reduction on your Virginia license

The reason for you taking the clinic matters. If you have a Virginia license and do the course voluntarily for points, DMV will give you +5 points on your record (in Virginia, positive points are a good thing).

But if a court orders you to a clinic, DMV won’t give you the bonus points.

Some judges care about this. If a defendant comes into court with a voluntary driving school certificate, the judge might not reduce or dismiss the case like they otherwise would for a person they order to attend driving school. The way I understand it, they’re worried about double-dipping. They don’t want drivers getting bonus points with DMV and a benefit in court.

Here’s the problem: Judges and prosecutors all have different rules they use to apply this. How the Stafford judge may handle this could vary from the Spotsylvania judge, and they may both have different policies from the judges in King George and Caroline.

How do you know what you should do?

First of all, please don’t blindly follow the advice random people give you.

I’ve talked to clients who were told by the ticketing officer to take a driving school. In some of those cases, it was in a court where the judge didn’t want people to do the school before court. In other words, it’s bad advice.

Also, driving school clinic providers have an incentive to get people to take their course. I am definitely not accusing them of lying, but they aren’t lawyers. There’s a reason they aren’t allowed to give legal advice. They don’t handle traffic cases in court, so they don’t necessarily know if taking their course is a good idea or not.

Who should you talk to?

A local traffic attorney. Find someone who regularly handles traffic cases in the court where your case is pending. Call them with your case details, and see what they suggest doing. I’m not saying that attorneys have a crystal ball, but it’s our job to advise clients like you.

I focus my practice on traffic defense in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. I’d be happy to talk about your driving school options for Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, and Caroline.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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