Repeal the Abusive Driver Fees?

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

Getting a speeding ticket on the interstate took on a whole new meaning this past July after the General Assembly approved the Abusive Driver Fees. The legislation, included in the 2007 transportation package, was intended to raise some additional funds for road projects.

However, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling believes the law is fundamentally flawed and isn't worth saving. That's why he's asking legislators to repeal it in the next General Assembly session beginning next week.

The abusive driver fees were intended to help solve two different problems: reckless and dangerous driving and a lack of money for transportation projects.

"The concept was that if you raised the fines and penalties on people who committed the most serious traffic-related offenses that you could help improve traffic safety and at the same time raise some money for transportation," says Bolling.

But police say they didn't really see traffic violations going down.

"We haven't seen that much of a deterrent effect from it, and I think partially that's due to the fact that most people don't think they're going to get caught and so therefore they're not worried about what the fines are going to be until after the fact," says 1st Sgt. Bryan Hutcheson, Virginia State Police.

When Governor Time Kaine made an amendment to the fees exempting out-of-state drivers, Virginia motorists protested leading to numerous complaints and even some lawsuits against the fees.

The last straw is that legislators projected the fees would generate about $60 million in one year, but in almost six months, Bolling says the fees have brought in only $2.8 million.

"And I think the best thing we can do to do be responsive to the concerns expressed for the people of Virginia is to say well, that was well-intentioned, but it didn't work out the way we intended and the best thing to do is simply repeal these fees and go back to where we were last July," says Bolling.

He also says he believes there will be widespread support for repealing the fees, though he does expect some opposition because several lawmakers just want to adjust the fees instead of getting rid of them entirely.

Finally, Bolling says, with the way the law is written at this time, it may not even be constitutional.


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