1/12/2008Virginia: Bicyclist Hit With $1050 Abusive Driver Fee
A Newport News, Virginia court applies the abusive driver fees to a man riding a bicycle.
Virginia political leaders defended the civil remedial fee speeding ticket tax by insisting that they did not apply to minor offenses and only the "worst of drivers" had to worry about them. On January 10, the Newport News General District Court disagreed and imposed a $1050 fee on the driver of an 18-speed Huffy.
"Safe drivers with only minor traffic infractions or occasional speeding tickets have nothing to fear from the abuser fee legislation," Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said in a July press conference. "Contrary to what critics and others committed to unraveling the transportation plan have claimed, there is no such thing as a $3,000 speeding ticket. There is no $1,000 fee for not using your turn signal. But, real abusers -- those who will have accumulated since July 1, 2007 a chronic record of dangerous driving that endangers the safety of everyone on the road -- will and should pay for their reckless behavior."
Bicyclist Kajuan Cornish, 19, has not accumulated a bad driving record because he does not own an automobile. That did not stop Newport News Police Officer George Evans for writing up Cornish as he pedaled down Warwick Boulevard near Denbigh Boulevard on December 27. Cornish was headed back to work after taking a lunch break.
"The officer who pulled me over said I was going too fast," Cornish told WAVY-TV. "He said it looked like I was in a rush."
A judge agreed with Officer Evans and now Cornish must either pay the fee or hire a traffic attorney and fight his case before a circuit court in February. State Delegate Dave Albo (R-Springfield), the architect of the fees -- and a traffic attorney -- says he is surprised that a judge would apply them to a bicyclist. Albo has offered a proposal to save the abusive driver fees despite bipartisan agreement among the governor and lieutenant governor to scrap them entirely.