After at least four arrests in the last 15 months for alleged driving infractions, it seems that Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity will be getting a chauffeur.
Herrity, who was charged with driving 74 miles an hour in a 40-mile-an-hour zone Saturday, did not return repeated phone calls yesterday from a reporter who left word that he wanted to ask about the chairman's driving record.
Herrity's son Tom, who is manager of his father's reelection campaign, said that while he does not think his father is in danger of losing his license, from now on a campaign volunteer "will assist him in driving."
The younger Herrity also said that the county's top official is going to curtail his policy of trying to attend every event to which he is invited in the 399-square-mile county. "We're going to give him more time to get from one place to another."
It could not be learned yesterday how many points Herrity has accumulated against his driver's license. Under Virginia law, state officials are not required to divulge the information, and Tom Herrity said he didn't know.
State law provides that if drivers collect nine points in a two-year period as the result of conviction of traffic violations, they qualify for a cautionary letter; 12 points brings a requirement to attend a one-hour group interview with other repentent drivers and pay a $15 fee; 18 points qualifies for a personal interview with a Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Improvement Analyst and a $20 fee (and, depending on the motorist's attitude, possible suspension of licence or a mandatory driver improvement clinic). After amassing 24 points in a two-year period, a driver qualifies as a "rapid violator" and loses his license for at least three months, among other sanctions.
Using a crude estimate based on Herrity's recent and known infractions, it would seem that he has already received a cautionary letter and will soon be attending a group interview to discuss his driving habits. A one-on-one interview may have already been scheduled.
And if Herrity were to receive one more ticket like Saturday's, which was worth six points (and which he told a reporter on Sunday he would probably not contest in court), that chauffeur might be obligatory rather than discretionary.
Asked whether Herrity, who is running for a fourth term as board chairman, would suffer political damage from the repeated driving infractions, his son said no.
"There is no excuse for this, there really is not," he said. "But this does symbolize somebody who's as in touch as any politician or elected official in recent memory since he has attended just about every citizen invitation he has gotten."