3/28/2008Virginia: Abuser Fees Officially Dead
Virginia governor signs an immediate repeal of abusive driver fees into law. Ticket tax refunds on the way to motorists.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) yesterday signed into law the final repeal of the abusive driver fees that he once championed. The fees of $1000 to $3000 imposed primarily motorists accused of speeding are now not only repealed, but any driver who has paid them will receive a prompt refund. In a statement, Kaine explained that public outrage over the fees drove the legislature to reverse course.
"After six months of implementation, it was clear that the fees did not improve the safety of Virginia highways," Kaine said. "The citizens of Virginia expressed concerns regarding these fees, and based on these concerns, I have signed the bills that repeal the fees."
The final repeal passed the General Assembly with only four dissenting votes under emergency procedures that mean that the law took effect with the governor's signature. Court clerks must now report any remedial fee payments to the state comptroller "who shall then promptly draw a warrant for payment by the state treasurer of a refund," the law explains. "Such refund shall be for the full amount of the civil remedial fee paid." Motorists whose driving license was suspended because they could not afford to pay the massive fees will also regain their license.
In the state House of Delegates, Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-Roanoke) was the lone vote in favor of keeping the fees. As a traffic lawyer, Griffith stood to benefit financially from motorists seeking legal assistance in fighting the massive fines. State Senators Kenneth Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), Richard Stuart (R-Montross) and John Watkins (R-Midlothian) provided the only votes in the upper chamber in favor of the fees. State Delegate Dave Albo (R-Springfield), a traffic lawyer who designed the abuser fee concept, endorsed its ultimate repeal.
On Tuesday, Kaine signed legislation repealing the various taxes on Northern Virginia motorists that the state supreme court had struck down as unconstitutional (view ruling). Although sold as a solution to congestion, the majority of the funds raised through the taxes had been diverted to mass transit and other uses of little benefit to drivers. A full copy of the repeal law is available in a 25k PDF file at the source link below.