I am all for abuser fees, but the kind of dollars this article talks about is outside the bounds of reality. This appears to me a lawyer looking out for other lawyers. The mere fact that when this was proposed last year, it was shot down. I supported the transportation plan, for sure. But the idea that I could have a traffic violation follow me for three years is beyond the pale. This law needs to be revoked or changed or whatever it takes. Its this kind of stuff that continues to haunt Republicans as we move forward towards fiscal sanity. All this will do is cause judicial chaos.
The spirit of the law I support, but the reality is terrible:
Lawyers said that more defendants will hire lawyers than before, that the lawyers will charge more money because the stakes are higher and that more cases will be appealed to circuit courts.
"It's basically the Lawyer Full Employment Act," cracked one Fairfax lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he stands to benefit from the new law.
Albo is technically correct when he says this:
"it's basically a voluntary tax. If you don't commit a crime on the streets, or run up a huge amount of points, you don't pay anything. We believe its main effect will be to get people to stop driving like maniacs."
But in real numbers, this could be crippling to someone for an honest mistake.
Say you are driving 78 mph on the Capital Beltway and a state trooper tickets you for "reckless driving -- speeding 20 mph over." You will probably be fined $200 by the judge. But then you will receive a new, additional $1,050 fine from the Old Dominion, payable in three convenient installments. So convenient that you must pay the first one immediately, at the courthouse.
First-time drunk driver? A $300 fine from the judge and a $2,250 fee from the commonwealth.
Driving without a license? Maybe a $75 fine. Definitely a $900 fee from Virginia.
Republicans are suppose to protect the people from an overreaching government. I understand that balance is needed between low taxes and keeping the state moving forward. That is one of the reasons I supported the Transportation bill--becasue one of the key government duties, funding transportaiton and roads--hasn't been touched since the 1980s. It also proved to be the way Virginia go important eminent domain reform passed. There are other things about the bill that are important.
But this . . . this is a betreyal of Republican principles and it needs to be fixed.
Virtucon had this before me, and put it well:
Now Albo claims that these draconian, back-breaking civil fines will produce large amounts of revenue for snow clearing and road repair in Northern Virginia. What he fails to mention is that enormous costs are going to be imposed on the court system, as drivers who once would have paid nuisance fines, will now be contesting these tickets, clogging the courts and burying local prosecutors under thousands of cases that would never be tried under the current system. An overwhelmed docket and buried prosecutors offices means that the state will have to spend more to hire lots of new judges and new prosecutors. Albo claims to have gotten this fantastic idea from the State of New Jersey–you know, the one-party, Democrat-controlled State of New jersey, which by the way carries one of the five heaviest state tax burdens in the country and has a budget crisis that is threatening to bankrupt the state.
Greg L adds this:
If an illegal alien, driving without a license is convicted of reckless driving, will they be subjected to these penalties? Nope. Not only is the maximum fine for them ($1,500) lower than it would be for a citizen being cited for driving on a suspended license ($2,500), but because they don’t have a Virginia driver’s license, they’re exempt from the penalties.