-- Democrat Greg Werkheiser, who is challenging Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), received 10 speeding tickets in the last 11 years, including a citation in November for going 44 miles per hour in a school zone, state court records show.
In addition, Werkheiser received tickets for running a red light, a stop sign and failing to pay full attention in connection with a fender bender in Fairfax City. The 31-year-old lawyer received most of the tickets during college and law school. He has received two speeding tickets in the last five years.
"Since I met my wife and she has told me to slow down, I've slowed," Werkheiser said Wednesday.
Albo, who will become chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee next year if he defeats Werkheiser, said the number of speeding tickets should give voters pause.
"One or two tickets is not a big deal. I had one or two tickets," Albo said Wednesday. "But the business we're in is writing the rules. The first thing is you need to follow the rules yourself."
The contest between Werkheiser and Albo in the 42nd District -- which stretches from Springfield to Clifton -- is by far the most expensive in the state this year, as the younger lawyer seeks to oust the veteran lawmaker.
Werkheiser raised close to $250,000 as of this summer. Albo raised close to $300,000. The Democratic and Republican parties and outside groups have poured money into the race.
Werkheiser's driving record was first pointed out by an Albo ally, who did so on condition of anonymity because, he said, he didn't want to be accused of meddling in the election. Albo, a Springfield lawyer who defends traffic violators in court, said that he had noticed a few of Werkheiser's tickets and had alerted a fellow Republican.
"Someone did the research, I guess," Albo said.
Werkheiser charged that his driving record is being used as a "distraction" from questions about Albo's representation of traffic violators in front of judges that are appointed by the courts committee.
"How about all the drunk drivers that Dave Albo has defended and put back on the streets?" Werkheiser asked. "Ask him how many times he's called in [to judges] to get the charges dropped because he knows people."
Albo's role as a traffic court lawyer and a state lawmaker has drawn criticism in local newspapers. Several letters to the editor have alleged that Albo has a conflict of interest because he helps to write stiffer traffic laws that drive more business to him.
"Simply put, he writes the DUI laws," Nils Lindenblad wrote in the Fairfax Station Connection newspaper. "There is clearly a case of conflict of interest here. On one hand, he's writing DUI laws and on the other he is helping his clients skirt these same laws."
Albo dismisses the criticism, saying Werkheiser's supporters are just "trashing the heck out of me for my job of being an attorney." He said he is no different from many lawyers in Richmond who also serve on the courts committee.
"There's a big difference from me defending people and him committing the crimes," Albo said.
Werkheiser said he received last year's ticket in a school zone along with several other drivers in his own neighborhood. "I got to the bottom of the hill, the lights were on," Werkheiser said.
Records show he received most of his speeding tickets during the mid-1990s, when he attended the College of William and Mary and then the University of Virginia law school.
Between 1994 and 1997, he received five tickets, including one for reckless driving in Henrico County for going 74 mph in a 55 mph zone. Between 1998 and 2000, records show, he received three more speeding tickets. The final two he received in 2001 and last year.
Werkheiser acknowledged being a "lead-foot" then, but he said he believes voters are not going to be concerned with his driving record.
"This is an intentional distraction by my opponent, and now you guys are complicit in it, to distract from his failure to deal with our traffic crisis, his failure to deal with our gang crisis," Werkheiser said. "I think folks want to know who . . . is going to better represent public safety in Virginia, speeding tickets notwithstanding."
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.