Just who is liable for paying Virginia’s civil remedial fees?
The answer is simple when examining residential status. The term to focus on is “domicile,” which requires “the intention to remain in a location for an extended period of time.”
Student-Visa Holders Are Exempt from Civil Remedial Fees
For Rajesh Cherkukuri, convicted of DUI in early September, these fees didn’t apply since he was in the United States on a student visa and planned on returning to his native India at the completion of his schooling.
Prince William County prosecutors in his DUI case contended since Cherkukuri held a Virginia driver’s license and lived in Virginia for one year, he was a citizen and thus responsible for payment of $2,250 in fees over a 26-month period.
Cherkukuri's attorney convinced Prince William General District Court Judge Craig D. Johnston that prosecutors were in error. Specifically, Brooks said the definition of “resident” in Virginia Code § 46.1-206.1 is ambiguous to the point that full interpretation of “resident” requires looking at its’ usage in other sections of Title 46.2.
Judge Waived Fees Based on “Resident” Definition
Johnston agreed with the defense, writing, “I conclude that the statutory exemption of nonresident students from those persons who are deemed residents for purposes of Title 46.2, including impositions of the civil remedial fee, was a deliberate exemption,” when concluding that Cherkukuri wasn’t responsible for such fees.
Referencing judicial opinion in the Cherkukuri case should quell future interpretation, reports the Virginia Lawyers Weekly in its September 28 Law Blog.