Study shows Virginia Civil Remedial Fees fail to make Virginia Highways Safer
A Virginia government study, the first broad review of Virginia's Civil Remedial Fees for traffic offenses such as reckless driving/speeding and DUI, shows that the fees, which took effect July 1, 2007, have not affected traffic safety as promised by proponents of the legislation according to an article in The Washington Post.
The report, prepared by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, found that arrests for speeding and DUI have increased in the second half of 2007 over the same period last year. Between July 1 and October 31, there were 198 more DUI arrests in the same period last year. There are also 5282 more speeding arrest. The report says there has been a decline in arrest for reckless driving. Some of the drop may be the result of police officers being lenient because they don't want certain motorists to be assessed a fee for abuse of driving, the report says.
But any decline in reckless driving is tempered by data from the Virginia State Police that show this state is on pace to record more than 1,000 Highway fatalities for this year for the first time since 1990. Furthermore, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles may have to issue more than 300,000 license suspensions to drivers over the next two years for failure to pay the state's abusive driving fees.
The report also shows that thousands of motorists are unwilling or unable to pay the fees. As the fees were approved in February, a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor driving offense has to pay $250 to $1,050 a year for three consecutive years. If the motorist fails to pay, the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend the person's driver's license.
Richmond Virginia DUI and Reckless Driving/Speeding Lawyer Bob Battle, who spends virtually every day in traffic court in Richmond and the surrounding jurisdictions of Hanover County, Caroline County, Henrico County, Chesterfield County and New Kent County, has seen many instances of officers giving speeding tickets to Virginia motorists who could have been charged with reckless driving/speeding because the officers disagreed with these enormous fines.
The issue will be hotly debated when the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes next month. Opponents of the civil remedial fees are calling for its repeal while House Republicans are expected to resist repeal efforts. Republican Delegate Dave Albo from Springfield, Virginia has introduced a bill to make fee fees apply to out-of-state drivers; currently, only Virginia drivers are assessed the fees. The bill would also limit the offensive that would trigger a fee, rewrite the reckless driving statute and give judges more latitude on whether to suspend a license.