In a chart accompanying an article in some of yesterday's editions about the driving record of Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity, the asterisks signified recent charges for which there has been no resolution. (Published 7/13/87)
Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity has been ticketed for driving infractions at least five times in the past two years and 11 times since 1981, according to state records obtained by The Washington Post, and could soon lose his Virginia driver's license.
Herrity, who was stopped by police July 4 for allegedly going 74 mph in a 40 mph zone, has said he is in no such danger.
But an examination of Herrity's convictions, coupled with his statements that he is unlikely to challenge the charges stemming from his two most recent tickets, indicates that he will soon have amassed 19 "points" against his license -- enough for state officials to suspend his driving privileges if they so choose. Also, Herrity could be placed on driving probation for up to a year.
Herrity could not be reached for comment yesterday. His wife said he was out of town but that she did not know where.
In an interview recently, Herrity declared that "no more comments are going to be made" when asked about his driving record. Then, asked if he has received preferential treatment from police, he replied: "You got to be kidding."
A number of prominent Republicans have said that the repeated driving infractions could become a political thorn for Herrity, a Republican who is running for a fourth term as chairman of the county Board of Supervisors. He is facing a tough challenge from Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annandale). The election is Nov. 3.
Last week, Tom Herrity, the chairman's son and campaign manager, said his father would get a part-time chauffeur to drive him to and from appointments. In addition, he said Herrity will no longer attempt to attend nearly every function to which he is invited in the 399-square-mile suburban county.
Tom Herrity said his father's driving problems stem from his efforts to keep in touch with Fairfax's 700,000 residents.
Herrity has never been charged with an alcohol-related infraction. He drinks soda water when he attends functions in the county, according to friends and officials. "I don't drink," Herrity said flatly last week.
Not counting Herrity's two recent tickets -- for speeding in West Springfield July 4 and running a red light in Fairfax City March 16 -- the three-page, computer-generated transcript shows that the county's top elected official has been convicted of nine driving infractions in Virginia since June 1981. His license was suspended for four days last year for neglecting to pay a fine stemming from an August 1986 ticket for failing to maintain control of his car in an accident.
Six of Herrity's nine tickets have been for speeding, although at least one of those was downgraded from the original charge of reckless driving after Herrity proved that his speedometer's calibration was slightly off.
Herrity was convicted once for reckless driving, in Augusta County, Va., in November 1981; once for operating in violation of a restricted license, and once for failing to control his car.
Also, Herrity has been involved in at least two accidents in the past several years.
The record shows that Herrity has twice enrolled voluntarily in the state-run driving-improvement clinic, most recently in January. Under state law, drivers may take demerit points off their license by enrolling in the clinic once every two years.
County police said they were treating Herrity as an ordinary citizen. A police spokesman said Herrity was not charged in the July 4 incident with reckless driving -- an offense that requires a court appearance -- because "the statutes as they are written do not apply." The spokesman said that speeding far above the posted limit does not satisfy the criteria for reckless driving. That charge, he said, required an "extenuating circumstance," such as weaving in and out of traffic.
In 1980, Herrity's car was immobilized by a D.C. Transportation Department "boot" on a downtown street. City officials said Herrity owed the District $115 for four unpaid parking tickets, late-payment penalties and the boot fee.
When Herrity's car was booted, he telephoned the office of then-City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers, where an assistant had the city's parking enforcement chief return Herrity's call.
Herrity told the D.C. official that the tickets were not his and that there must be some mistake, according to reports at the time. The official acknowledged that Herrity could be right, and the boot was removed less than an hour later.
The next day, however, a check of city records confirmed that the computer was right about Herrity's tickets, according to the reports. Herrity said that one of his four teen-age children might have been responsible for the tickets.