FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Loudoun County, VA (November 27, 2019) – A nearly six-year effort by Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman to remedy a serious gap in the Virginia motor code has been finally resolved at the local level with the passing of two amendments to the county’s codified ordinances by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
The amendments allow Loudoun Sheriff’s deputies investigating a minor crash the discretion to issue a summons to a driver instead of Reckless Driving - a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted of Reckless Driving, the driver faces up to $2,500 in fines, and up to one year in jail. The amended ordinances, Failure by the operator to give full time and attention to driving and Failure to keep a vehicle under control, will be pre-payable by a maximum $250 fine and would not assign demerit points to a driver’s record.
Across the Commonwealth, law enforcement has little option but to charge an at-fault driver involved in minor accidents with Reckless Driving for accidents not witnessed by the deputy/officer. “The amendments relieve our deputies of the current state code constraints and provide drivers a much fairer legal recourse,” said Sheriff Chapman. “Previously, the charge of Reckless Driving could only be reduced to Improper Driving, a less serious charge, by a judge or at the request of the Commonwealth Attorney,” added Sheriff Chapman.
A review conducted in 2017 determined of 795 Reckless Driving cases in Loudoun County’s General District Court, 89% were reduced to Improper Driving.
Since 2014, Sheriff Chapman has urged the General Assembly to amend Improper Driving statute language, and has taken extensive efforts to support statewide legislation that would remedy the current Virginia Code.
In addition, with support from Vice-Chair Ralph Buona (Ashburn), they obtained the successful adoption of the county ordinance on November 13, 2019, by a 7-0-2 vote by the Board of Supervisors amending the Loudoun County Ordinances by adding two additional traffic infractions. The amendment to Loudoun County’s Ordinances will mirror those of 11 other Virginia jurisdictions that established local ordinances that provide law enforcement the ability to cite drivers for a lesser charge.
Sheriff Chapman will continue to work with state legislators to establish a uniform code for law enforcement regarding Improper Driving.
Residents can view amended ordinances 466.07 and 466.08 at www.loudoun.gov/ordinances.