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Thread: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

  1. #1

    Default Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly
    To fund its roads, state will issue traffic tickets as high as $3,000 By Dennis Cauchon
    USA TODAY

    Virginia is for lovers, or so the state tourism slogan has declared since 1969. Starting Sunday, Virginia also will be the home of the $3,000 traffic ticket.

    In an effort to raise money for road projects, the state will start hitting residents who commit serious traffic offenses with huge civil penalties.

    The new civil charges will range from $750 to $3,000 and be added to existing fines and court costs. The civil penalty for going 20 mph over the speed limit will be $1,050, plus $61 in court costs and a fine that is typically about $200.

    Virginia's traffic law is one of several thousand new state laws that take effect Sunday. Jan. 1 and July 1 are the most popular dates for state laws to become official.

    July 1 is especially popular for new taxes and fees because it's the start of the budget year in 46 states. For example, Arkansas will cut its sales tax on groceries from 6% to 3% Sunday.

    Virginia's new traffic penalties are expected to raise $65 million a year and are part of an effort to improve the state's roads without raising taxes.

    A first-time drunken driver will face a $2,250 civil penalty, plus fines and court costs that typically run about $500 or more. Driving without a license? That's a mandatory $900 civil penalty, in addition to the ordinary $100 for a fine and court costs.

    "It's outrageous," says traffic court attorney Thaddeus Furlong of Springfield, Va. "When Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class find out what they have to pay, there's going to be a backlash like you've never seen."

    Some other states impose extra civil penalties for traffic offenses, but the cost is usually $100 or $200, Furlong says. "What sets this apart is the Draconian size of the civil penalties," he says.

    Another difference: The civil penalties apply only to Virginia residents, not out-of-state drivers. Virginians must pay in three installments over 26 months or lose their licenses. The state Legislature didn't think it could enforce the extra penalties in other states.

    Motorist club AAA Mid-Atlantic supports the new penalties.

    "These penalties are harsh, but normal fines haven't gotten people to drive sanely. Maybe this will," says Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
    He says the new law will help reduce the nearly 1,000 traffic deaths the state records annually.

    "We wish motorists didn't have to pay more, but the fact is Virginia's transportation trust fund is broke," Anderson says.

    http://www.usatoday.com/printedition...laws29.art.htm

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    This is really upsetting. Tickets and fines have always been a mechanism to promote safety but yet this clearly changes things by making it a revenue generator.

    I could not begin to estimate the number of times I've heard the bs complaint from an angry motorist that the ticket I was giving them was only about generating revenue. Then, I could explain that the revenue generated by the ticket barely covered the cost to write it (with the police department collecting about 5 or 10 cents on the dollar).

    I really feel for Virginia's law enforcement who the legislature has placed an even bigger target on their backs now. This will create even higher tension and resentment at the scene of the traffic stop and it would not surprise me to find the number of assaults on a officers, resisting arrest and evading offenses increase.

    In my view there are moral and ethical problems here as well.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    Those fines are brutal. It will be interesting to see if they are upheld in the higher court challenges that you know will follow.
    It is a strange rational that if the transportation fund is broke that they think the shortage should be made up by excessive fines on only in state drivers only. If their health care system goes bust do they intend to tack a a hefty fee on every fat burger sold to state residents?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    You are dead on with the increase of verbal abuse that officers will be taking. It might also become a personal safety issue for officers dealing with motorists that were already borderline violent types. No doubt that this will set quite a few of these people off.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    Virginia's new traffic penalties are expected to raise $65 million a year and are part of an effort to improve the state's roads without raising taxes.

    Note the state is unable or unwilling to "raise taxes". This is just another way (think of casinos, lotteries, and cigarette taxes) to shift costs on to working stiffs.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    Big Fines? Good! enough amnesty for people who knowingly break the law!!!
    There's no such thing as a pretty good aligator wrestler.

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    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    With the new burdensome fines, the cops will probably feel more pressure to grant amnesty to all the illegal drivers. I bet they NEVER enforce the law.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    FloggingSully,

    I do understand your sentiments, but to me this seems like a bigger issue. First what is the nexus between traffic offenses and road useage? All users should support the road system in their respective proportion and that's what taxes and vehicle registration hope to accomplish.

    Secondly, generally speaking people can't afford to pay such high fines and beyond shifting the role of law enforcement from a crime and safety aspect they are now have a new role of shaking people down for revenue. Virginia certainly seems headed toward an increase in people FTA'ing their fines, higher rate of suspensions, more arrests for warrants, increase in resentment toward civil government and it all gets taken out on the cop on the street. I don't like this at all. Not at all. I think this will eventually backfire.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bad drivers in Va. will pay dearly

    Quote Originally Posted by matclone View Post
    With the new burdensome fines, the cops will probably feel more pressure to grant amnesty to all the illegal drivers. I bet they NEVER enforce the law.
    Matclone, we think alike here. I always gave more warnings than tickets and most the cops I knew did the same. If I were in a law enforcement association in Virginia I'd be pressing them to publically condemn and resist its enactment. But the latter seems a little too late now.

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