cramping my style …

– cries the admonished Virginian!

A bunch of laws have taken into effect in Virginia since July 1st. The most significant of which that’s gonna be the heartache of many would be the $3,000 traffic ticket.

Yes, thats as much as a single mortgage payment, what one could bring home a month, what you’d pay for a semester at school! This is so not funny, but necessary. It’s like when timeouts don’t work parents take harsher measures as yanking TV privileges and curfews!

Here’s a clipping from the news.

Virginians Face $3,000 Traffic Ticket
By Dennis Cauchon
USA Today
Posted: 2007-07-01
Filed Under: Law, Nation

(July 1) – Virginia is for lovers, or so the state slogan has declared since 1969. Starting today, 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.

Virginia is adding new civil charges to traffic fines. They range from $750 to $3,000 and will 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. January 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 is the start of the budget year in 46 states. For example, Arkansas will cut its sales tax on groceries from 6% to 3% beginning July 1.

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 is a mandatory $900 civil penalty, in addition to the ordinary $100 for a fine and court costs.

“It is outrageous,” says traffic court attorney Thaddeus Furlong of Springfield, VA. “When Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class find out what they have to pay, there is going to be a backlash like you have 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 did not 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 have not 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.

New Laws Take Effect
July 1

Many new state laws and initiatives passed by the Virginia General Assembly this spring will be applicable after July 1.

* Drivers under the age of 18 can be penalized for using a wireless telecommunication device while driving if they found to be doing so when they are cited for some other offense. This bill was introduced at Fairfax County’s request.

* Localities will be allowed to install photo-monitoring systems in traffic signals, otherwise known as red-light cameras, for every 10,000 residents they have. Fairfax County supported this initiative and does plan to use red light cameras. They cannot say when they will be up and running because the program was not included in this year’s county budget, said county spokesperson Merni Fitzgerald.

* The state will change course from moving toward utility deregulation as some other states have recently done and instead implement a new “hybrid” model of electricity regulation. Fairfax County opposed this legislation because county staff concluded the new law, backed by the state’s largest utility company Virginia Dominion Power, is likely to cause an increase in electricity bills for consumers.

* Tenants who are elderly or have a disability and are involved in a rental-to-condominium conversion can assign the responsibilities associated with right-to-purchase discussions to a government agency, housing authority or pre-approved non-profit. Fairfax County supported this measure.

* Owners of residential properties who are selling the property will be required to notify purchasers that there are no current zoning violations that have not been fixed or remedied. This bill was introduced at Fairfax County’s request.

* Abusive drivers fees will go into effect for Virginia residents, a charge over and above the fines imposed. Virginia citizens cited for reckless driving — speeding 20 miles per hour above the limit — will pay an additional $1,050; residents convicted of drunk driving will pay an additional $2,250; and those caught driving without a license will pay an additional $900. These extra fees do not apply to out-of-state offenders. The new abusive driver fees along with an increase in the vehicle registration fee and overweight truck fee is expected to raise $200 million annually for Virginia’s Highway Maintenance and Operations Fund. In its final incarnation, Fairfax County supported the General Assembly’s transportation bill, which included these measures.

* The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional group with representatives from several local governments, is likely to pass the Northern Virginia transportation tax package July 12.

Through the transportation bill this spring, the General Assembly gave the regional government body the power to levy these taxes. If the tax package is approved, residents and business owners in several Northern Virginia localities — including Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun counties and Alexandria — will see increases in rental car fees, commercial real estate assessments, the grantors tax, local car registration, the tax on mechanics’ labor and the initial driver’s license fee.

Money generated from the taxes, which the authority estimates will add up to $300 million annually, will be used exclusively for transportation upgrades in Northern Virginia.

Fairfax County supported this initiative.
–Julia O’Donoghue

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9 thoughts on “cramping my style …

  1. Old Dominion? My ass. Over a grand for speeding? That’s utter rubbish.

    Most of the folks in VA are military/federal government folks. They are *not* going to be happy, oh boy.

    I wonder which idiot was behind this.

  2. cm – The rest of VA is doing perfectly fine! I wouldn’t move anywhere, all we got to do is stay within the speed limits ;-)

    leo – There have been too many teens dying recently. It’s not been a good year so far for VA. :(

    ok – jay walking? :O
    you have to be caerful yo :)

    metlin – lol, thats a good q. Which idiot is a good q. Am waiting for the fireworks to begin, and am sure it will. We’ve got sticklers around us.

  3. wh – I am so glad you aren’t a lawmaker. :-))

    parvathi – lol, I remember those days. No such luck anymore :)
    Nice of you to comment.

    Dufus – tragically, it isn’t one. The husband’s been on my case since a month when it was declared for July 1st. I tend to hit the gas, a glee I enjoy and something he bemoans. :)

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