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Speeding in Virginia

(posted by guest blogger Valerie Strauss)

I was driving on Virginia's busiest road yesterday, I-95, trying my best to stay within the speed limit. It wasn't easy.

Despite the heavy new fines that can be imposed on a Virginia driver if caught going more than 20 mph above the posted limit, I found myself in the way of many of them who zipped around me to speed. Two honked, even though I was going 55 mph, the (supposedly) maximum speed limit on that stretch of road. My unscientific experiment judged that many speeders were 10 or 15 mph above the limit, but enough were going fast enough to give state troopers plenty to do.

I began wondering about people who knew they could be slapped with thousands of dollars in fines if they were caught. They couldn't all be rushing to the hospital to deliver a baby.

For those who don't know: Virginia has imposed new fees that can be assessed on felony and misdemeanor traffic offensives can now approach $3,000--but only for Virginia drivers. Those offensives include driving more than 20 mph over the limit. The money is to be spent improving Virginia's road system.

Some people see the fees as a regressive tax that hits hardest those least able to afford to pay--and that if Virginia needs money to improve its roads, then all Virginians should pay. Makes sense.

Others say that if aggressive Virginia drivers have to pay, so should drivers from out of state who are breaking the same law. They are using Virginia roads, so what's fair is fair. In fact, that's why the District has long wanted to impose a commuter tax on out-of-city drivers who use the roads. Makes sense--except that states have long had difficulty forcing out-of-state drivers to pay fines.

And then there are others, like the Virginia governor, who think that people who don't want to pay the fines simply shouldn't speed. Makes sense too, except that who hasn't, on occasion, found themselves going well over the speed limit for just a minute, only to quickly step on the brake? Does a momentary lapse make you an aggressive driver?

Today a circuit court judge in Richmond reversed a lower court decision that found the fees violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Today's decision saying that the fees are, in fact, constitutional, is expected to be quickly appealed.

What would you do if you were on the appellate court making the decision?

By Valerie Strauss |  August 13, 2007; 12:48 PM ET
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Comments

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This has nothing to do with highway safety. This is for $$$ and nothing else.
If it were me, I would find this unconstitutional because it cannot be applied to all violators equally. Simple as that for me.

Posted by: Michael | August 13, 2007 1:20 PM

Supporters of the fees can't argue both that it's to raise revenue and increase safety, because those reasons are mutually exclusive.

If the fees are threatening enough that people become safer drivers, violations will drop and without violations, no huge revenue will be raised.

But if people ignore the fees, get violations, and raise revenue, then the fees failed to convince Virginians to drive safer.

If the courts uphold the fees, than voters will have to clean house.

Posted by: Brendan | August 13, 2007 1:23 PM

What would I do? Same thing I'm doing right now. Take the PRIVILEGE of driving seriously, not drive aggressively, and above all not worry about everybody else. So what if it's "not fair" to anybody else? Worry more about your own driving and not everybody else out there, and we'll all be fine.

Posted by: Alexandria | August 13, 2007 1:27 PM

Great idea Alexandria - dig a hole and stick your head in it. What a moron. It's not all right to pave the way with good intentions that are unjust and unfair. The punishment needs to fit the crime. And these do not.

Posted by: Tyler Durden | August 13, 2007 1:44 PM

I've decided that the way that I'm going to address this issue will be at the ballot box. Anyone who voted for this blatantly unfair law should lose their seat in Richmond. Putting these civil penalties on Virginia drivers and then not doing the same to drivers from Maryland and DC is wrong.

Oh, and wasn't there a report a couple of months ago in the Post that of the worst drivers, Maryland and DC were much higher overall than Virginia drivers? My God, but how did our esteemed legislators miss that indication of a fat cash cow?

Posted by: Woodbridge | August 13, 2007 1:47 PM

If you've ever had family members killed by reckless drivers, you would know that these fines and fees pale in comparison. Don't have this debate without considering this important point.

If you think you can't pay the fee, stay within the law. If you don't like the speed limit, write your congress person or state senator. If people are honking, then keep right and let them by.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 13, 2007 1:48 PM

A couple of thoughts:

(1) The equal protection argument makes a lot of sense. If, as the politicians claim, these "fees" target "dangerous drivers," there is no principled difference for targeting in-state drivers only. An out-of-stater driving recklessly is equally dangerous as an in-stater, and is perhaps MORE dangerous if he's unfamiliar with the road.

(2) If these had been called what they are, i.e., "fines," instead of "fees," the in-state/out-of-state concern voiced by the politicians would go away. But then you'd have an Eighth Amendment issue: are these "cruel and unusual punishment"? I think for many people this is one of the bigger questions surrounding these "fees," and it's a legitimate question. "Reckless driving" is defined by statute in Virginia to include, among other things, going over 80 mph. If you drive down I-85 in Virginia, the speed limit is 70 mph. Going 11 mph over the speed limit opens you up to a "fee" of over $1,000 on top of the pre-existing speeding and reckless driving fines. You'd be paying around $1,500 or more, all told. Everyone I know, even the goody-two-shoes speed-limit-obeyers, agrees that it's unreasonable to demand that someone pay $1,500 for something as minor as going 11 mph over the speed limit.

(3) The politicians can whine all they want, but they (and the police) cannot and will not decide the speed of traffic on Virginia's highways. That's up to the motorists to decide, and it's clear that motorists have rejected the arbitrarily low speed limits on many of Virginia's roads. Rather than enacting pointless "fees," perhaps the politicians ought to consider posting speed limits drivers find reasonable and then targeting the small number of drivers who refuse to obey ANY speed law.

In many ways it's point (2) that I find the most compelling. I drive over the speed limit, sure. I accept that if I get caught, it opens me up to a ticket and that I'd have to pay a fine. I do not accept that there is any basis for these new "fees" because they're out of all proportion to the "offense" committed. I mean, if you drive 75 mph on the Beltway you're doing the RIGHT thing in that it's a safe speed given the prevailing speed of traffic, yet under this new law you face the $1,500 in fines and "fees" if a cop decides to give you a ticket for reckless. That's asinine. It's beyond clear that the voters want these "fees" repealed, and it's high time that the politicians pulled their heads out of their rear ends and realized that their job is to do what we tell them to do, not to do whatever makes them happy.

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 1:48 PM

Rich, you say that going 11 mph is minor and $1500 is too much. What are the traffic statistics for fatalities at 81 mph? Is $1500 too much for someone to pay when these maniacs endanger my wife and my kids?

My mother lost her sister and brother-in-law to a reckless driver who was only slightly bruised. Their children lost both their parents, their grandchildren lost their Nanna and Poppa. Don't dare tell me $1500 is too much to pay to prevent this even once.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 13, 2007 1:55 PM

I would uphold the lower court: You do the crime you pay the fine.

Posted by: KK | August 13, 2007 1:56 PM

These fees are not about safety. They are about making money. If you can't drive at 80 mph, I doubt you're a much better driver at 55. Crappy drivers are crappy drivers regardless of speed. Plus, most of the time tickets are given is when there are no cars around you and the cop can focus his gun just on you. Who are you endangering with no cars around you? It's all about money. These laws basically say "If you're rich, you can speed. If you're poor, you can't."

Posted by: Ry | August 13, 2007 2:06 PM

I agree that imposing these fees isn't really the smartest thing Virginia legislators have done. However, I also think that we need something to get leadfoot a--holes to slow down.

If we're going to have these fees, then can we at least have a penalty for people who tailgate drivers for more than .5 miles? I sometimes get the urge to slam on brakes while being tailgated, just to teach that person a lesson. Believe me, if I have just cause, I'll do it, because I've got good insurance, and I'd love an excuse to get out of the car and cuss the person out.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | August 13, 2007 2:07 PM

Sorry, thuff7, I disagree with your premise that 81 mph is inherently dangerous. It's not. Consider, if you will, that Texas recently posted an 80-mph speed limit on two of its Interstates. If it were inherently unsafe, would they allow it? Now, I'm not saying that we should be allowed to go 81 mph everywhere; that's a ludicrous proposition. Even on the Interstate system, there are plenty of places where 81 is too fast. But if you've ever driven down I-85 in Virginia, you'll understand why in much of the world 81 mph (or 130 km/h) is the average motorway speed limit (motorway being what most countries call limited-access freeways like our Interstate system). Also, if you do even a cursory bit of research, you'll find that the fatality rate on those motorways is often lower than it is here in the USA, despite our lower speed limits and the "speed kills" nonsense spewed by our politicians. (The "fatality rate," i.e., driver deaths per miles driven, is a more realistic measure than the raw number of fatalities.)

A lot of our speed laws were set 30 and 40 years ago when cars, and car safety, were very different from what they are now. There is no legitimate reason why the laws should not change with the cars on the roads.

Bottom line, I'm sorry for your mother's loss, but that doesn't mean that the majority of motorists who drive safely, albeit above the speed limit number posted on the sign, should put up with unreasonable fines.

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 2:08 PM

"I sometimes get the urge to slam on brakes while being tailgated, just to teach that person a lesson."

A better (and safer!!!!) idea: Turn on your windscreen washer for a bit. Some of the spray will go over your car and hit the windshield of the car behind you. I've done this many times and the tailgater usually backs off as he turns on his wipers.

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 2:14 PM

I posted a couple of comments on one of the earlier articles on this subject, stating that drivers should obey the law & they wouldn't have to worry about the fines.

A fellow poster said that by adhering to the law and doing the speed limit, I was impeding traffic & therefore breaking the law - that I should 'keep up with traffic' like 'everyone else.' I responded that if 'everyone else' started doing the speedlimit instead of using that excuse to speed, then they wouldn't have to worry about the fines or about impeding traffic.

Another poster gave an example where doing a 'little thing' such as going 'only' 10 miles/hr over the speed limit could get a driver an extra fine.

These posters refused to admit that rules of the road are LAWS & as citizens we are supposed to obey & uphold the laws. That does NOT mean picking & choosing WHICH laws we want to obey.

The most ridiculous of ALL the comments was that: 'if I was such a good driver, then I should move to MD & teach THEM how to drive.' So, according to this poster, law-abiding citizens aren't welcome in VA!

That would explain a few things, then....


Posted by: Zarina | August 13, 2007 2:20 PM

This law needs to be based on one principle only: safety. Unless there are studies that show astronomical fines make the roads safer, then this law is merely a revenue generator and a b-buster, at the expense of some unlucky Virginians.

Posted by: Marie | August 13, 2007 2:22 PM

"These posters refused to admit that rules of the road are LAWS & as citizens we are supposed to obey & uphold the laws. That does NOT mean picking & choosing WHICH laws we want to obey."

Yup. So I want you to stop treating people like Rosa Parks as though they did something admirable. The law required blacks to move to the back of the bus and she refused. That means that she broke the LAW that she was "supposed to obey & uphold."

This country was FOUNDED on opposition to laws that were considered unjust (taxes, in particular). Spare us the righteous indignation that "the law is the law."

Or is your real name Javert?

Posted by: Spare me | August 13, 2007 2:24 PM

This law needs to be based on one principle only: safety. Unless there are studies that show astronomical fines make the roads safer, then this law is merely a revenue generator and a b-buster, at the expense of some unlucky Virginians.

Posted by: Marie | August 13, 2007 2:26 PM

This law needs to be based on one principle only: safety. Unless there are studies that show astronomical fines make the roads safer, then this law is merely a revenue generator and a b-buster, at the expense of some unlucky Virginians. Have they actually found this to be the most effective way to improve public safety?

Posted by: Marie | August 13, 2007 2:27 PM

Instead of making someone tailgate you, why don't you just do what no one in VA seems to want to do - MOVE TO THE RIGHT. The left lane is for passing. If you can't keep up with traffic flow, get off the road. Playing stupid games like slamming your brakes or washing your windshield may just get you what you deserve - a good a__ beating.

Posted by: ms1234 | August 13, 2007 2:28 PM

Ry: "These laws basically say "If you're rich, you can speed. If you're poor, you can't."

No, these laws say if you're caught speeding then you must pay a fine. If you're rich, then it just won't hurt as much as if you're not. Period.

By stating that this law hurts poor people more than anyone else implies that poor people are all law-breakers. Poor or wealthy, don't break the law, you won't have to pay a fine, and there will be no hardship.

Posted by: Zarina | August 13, 2007 2:29 PM

ms1234, calm down. I always drive to the right (except to pass, or except when I'm in the UK), but in the DC area people tailgate you anyway if they don't like your speed. Hell, I've been tailgated on the 25-mph street into my neighborhood. I try to hold my speed to 30 mph there (25 mph is right in between 2d and 3d gears for me) and I get tailgated almost daily. That road is one place where I regularly hit the washer, and it works really well.

Sounds like you need a defibrillator in the car for the inevitable....

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 2:32 PM

Rich, It may be reasonably safe to drive 80 mph if that is the speed limit and all the cars are going 80 mph. It is much less safe to drive 80 mph when the other cars are going 55 mph. These reckles drivers who make a game of zipping in between the other drivers are breaking the law and jeopardizing everyone else. If you don't like the speed limit, write your congressman. If you don't obey the law, expect to be punished.

Posted by: thuff7 | August 13, 2007 2:47 PM

"It is much less safe to drive 80 mph when the other cars are going 55 mph."

And where, pray tell, would one find such a road? :-)

"If you don't obey the law, expect to be punished."

Ooooo, I'm SCARED now! (pause to knock on wooden desk) I have ONE speeding ticket in my life. I'm not too worried. I don't weave in and out of traffic, but I don't particularly worry about the number on the sign either.

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 2:54 PM

Why don't the Politicians set the speed limit 30 miles/hr. I'm sure that will save even more lives.

Heck, why don't we just stop driving?

We should also ban all planes because they sometimes crash.

We should also ban all the city buses, as we have seen too many accidents on them.

We should also ban school buses because every night on the news, I see one involved in some accident.

Posted by: tim | August 13, 2007 2:54 PM

We should also ban walking, because every day I see pedestrians breaking the law and crossing at mid-block or against the light.

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 2:59 PM

It's strange that many of you seem to think that it's impossible that they imposed these fines BOTH to raise revenue AND to discourage dangerous driving. In fact, Brendan wrote that the two were mutually exclusive, which is absolutely absurd. (For the less-intelligent out there, "mutually exclusive" reasons would have to be to encourage and discourage dangerous driving.)

Anyway, most things we do in life have multi-factorial motivations. Simply because we have one motivation does not preclude the existence of another motivation.

If the motive behind the fees were strictly to raise revenue, one might expect that they would have imposed these fees on ALL driving infractions -- i.e. both dangerous and not-so-dangerous. However, the Virginians who are up in arms about these fees do not acknowledge this nor do they acknowledge that going 20+ over the speed limit is INCREDIBLY dangerous. We're not talking about minor speeding.

I wonder how many of these upset Virginians are the same ones who get upset about illegal immigrants. They say the immigrants should be kicked, regardless of whether it splits up families. It's the law and it should be enforced, right? Hmm, strange that this thinking doesn't apply to themselves.

Posted by: Ryan | August 13, 2007 3:04 PM

Spare me: "...Rosa Parks...broke the LAW that she was "supposed to obey & uphold."

This country was FOUNDED on opposition to laws that were considered unjust (taxes, in particular)..."

Ms. Parks was protesting an unjust law in order get that law CHANGED! Nor was she endangering any of her fellow bus riders.

Speeders are NOT making an effort to CHANGE the law - they are just refusing to ABIDE by it! They're also the 1st to make ridiculous excuses & the last to admit they're endangering others.

You want the speed limit raised, then work on having the law changed. You want to speed, then don't complain about the fine when you are caught!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2007 3:07 PM

Please, gimme a break.

I'm willing to bet that the fee supporters have gone 75 mph or over on numerous occasions on the Beltway. They would be the first to whine about being caught for reckless driving and paying the extra $1,050.

Also, the fees are not about curtailing aggressive driving, they're about revenue generation. The government wants MORE people to drive aggressively MORE OFTEN to raise MORE revenue. If people drove less aggressively, there would be less money going for road improvements.

Posted by: Stinky driver | August 13, 2007 3:10 PM

First, call it a fee or a fine, the real purpose for this law is "safety". If anyone out there believes that the Virginia State Government's intent is to finance the state's interstate highways on these "fees" must be used to only driving on unpaved country roads in rural Virginia.

Second, I think this story gets over sensationalized by the media. I believe the fines are for "reckless driving" and not per say speeding. Yes, going 20 mph over the posted speed limit is defined as reckless driving, but I believe the judge/court takes into account the driver's driving history. A person with a single +20mph ticket will probably get a "speeding ticket" and the smaller fee, not a "reckless driving" ticket and larger fee. By the way, I believe tailgating would also fall under "reckless driving". It would be interesting to see what the driving record was like or what the traffic situation was for the person who got caught "driving reckless" near the pentagon. It would be nice if the media, provided all facts in the case.

Third, what's fair? Hopefully, I have my facts straight, but wasn't the first plaintiff who had the case thrown out caught for the fifth time driving on a suspended license. Forget the amount of the fee. Why isn't this person in jail? Five times? What does the Virginia state trooper do when he pulls over a person driving on an out-of-state suspended drivers license? "Sorry, miss/sir since you're from out of state, I really can't do anything." I really doubt that is what would happen.

Finally, if you believe that the speed limits for certain sections of roadway are not right, call or write your state representative and complain. Highway speed limits are already differentiated based upon the area and circumstances. 55mph on the beltway and especially in the Springfield area is probably the right speed, especially with everyone merging, exiting or moving over multiple lanes during rush hour. 65+ mph out west of Manasas on I66 or I81 or south of Woodbridge is probably correct also. These areas don't have the traffic that the DC beltway has. So it seems that the State government is already adjusting the speed limit based upon area.

Posted by: Former Virginian living in Maryland | August 13, 2007 3:12 PM

To the anonymous poster who railed against my mention of Rosa Parks: Apparently you missed the sarcasm in my post. I was responding to someone who said, basically, "the law is the law and all lawbreakers should be punished."

Posted by: Spare me | August 13, 2007 3:17 PM

Rich,
Your question:

"And where, pray tell, would one find such a road? :-)"

Your previous post (Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 02:08 PM):

"Consider, if you will, that Texas recently posted an 80-mph speed limit on two of its Interstates."

Posted by: thuff7 | August 13, 2007 3:18 PM

I predict some (many?) jurisdictions will now lower their speed limits so that they can catch more "reckless driving" scofflaws and collect the huge fees.

Posted by: mart | August 13, 2007 3:25 PM

Stinky driver: ..."If people drove less aggressively, there would be less money going for road improvements."

Based on the comments posted thus far, I don't think that will be a concern.

The majority of these posters don't appear to care about honesty or the law. All they care about is themselves & what THEY want. I suspect that with these people, the only effect of getting caught & receiving one of these fines would be a smaller bank balance but NO change in driving habits.

So if there were more officers to catch these folks, every road in VA would be fixed.

Posted by: Zarina | August 13, 2007 3:26 PM

thuff7, I don't understand your post from 3:18 PM. In my last post, I quoted a statement about going 80 mph where everyone else was going 55 mph and asked where would one find such a road. That is, where would one find a road where everyone was going 55 mph? I was partly trying to be funny, but I was being somewhat serious at the same time in that I have trouble thinking of many roads where people obey 55-mph laws. (I try to hold it to between 50 and 55 on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway in DC, but I think the speed limit there is 40 or 45.)

Posted by: Rich | August 13, 2007 3:26 PM

A couple thoughts:

1/ The interstate highway system was designed and built to be safe for drivers traveling at 70mph in 1950s vehicles. The 55 mph limit was imposed in the 70s as a fuel-saving measure during a gasoline "crisis." The 55mph limits remain artificially low because no politician wants to be accused of supporting speeding, even though cars are much safer today than ever before. It's hard to argue that the limits have much to do with highway safety. The vast majority of traffic accidents, even very serious ones, do not occur on limited-access divided highways, and when they do occur there it's more likely that alcohol, not speed, is the most significant factor.

2/ Serious traffic offenses are crimes, and crimes are defined by legislators, who prescribe a range of penalties for violations. In any particular case, the judge imposes a penalty within the specified range based on the evidence he's heard, the offender's previous record and other factors. These DMV "administrative fees" short-circuit the legislative and judicial processes. They impose a punishment that hasn't been authorized by either branch of government, and they take sentencing out of the hands of judges. Does anybody really think this is a good idea? Who sets the fees, and according to what standard? Suppose the DMV decided administratively that the "fee" should be $10,000 per violation, or $100,000? Suppose they decided that a violator would have his license revoked for life? Suppose they decided that the car the violator was driving would be confiscated, even if he wasn't the owner? At what point would citizens say "This is enough!"? If the majority of the citizens think traffic penalties should be tougher, then they should push their legislators in that direction. But once you start letting administrators impose punishments outside the judicial system, you open the door to all kinds of abuse, and anybody who objects will be accused of being "soft on crime" or worse.

Posted by: driver | August 13, 2007 3:32 PM

A tax by any other name is .... a "driver's fee."

The fees are about one thing - raising more money. The legislature has come out and said as much. But gun-shy politicians, scared of being targeted for implementing a tax increase in an election year, looked for a loophole - a way to raise money but not have it be a tax.

Driver's Fees were the answer! We'll enact these huge punitive fees against those who break traffic laws. It'll raise money and we can also be seen as being "tough" on bad drivers.

But no one counted on the populous actually paying attention. And now it's backfired in a huge way. And Gov. Kaine's removing the out-of-state portion was the death nail in the scheme. There's plenty of precedence in the courts - it will ultimately be declared unconstitutional.

Anyone who believes that "safety" was a primary motivation for these fees proves that P.T. Barnum was right.

Posted by: FearlessFreep | August 13, 2007 3:34 PM

One problem here is that many of the people complaining about these new fines are the same ones who complain about congested old highways and higher taxes. Short of splitting into two states, Virginians need to come up with a solution to address the transporation problem in northern Virginia. Personally, I would favor a minor tax increase (say bumping the sales tax up to 5%) over these fines; however, something needs to be done to improve the transportation system in northern VA.

If not fines or higher taxes then what?

Posted by: Transportation Improvements Cost Money | August 13, 2007 3:37 PM

Driver,

I understand and agree with your second comment.

As far as your first comment, that "the interstate highway system was designed and built to be safe for drivers traveling at 70mph in 1950s vehicles", I would like to add that it was also designed for 1950's traffic volume. Don't quote me, but in the 1950s, anything further outside of DC than Bailey's Crossroads was pretty much farm land. I don't believe that the current beltway was built to hold the volume of traffic that it currently does in 2007. Hence, that is why there are traffic jams that make the beltway look like a parking lot.

Posted by: Former Virginian living in Maryland | August 13, 2007 3:51 PM

As an appellate judge, I would apply common sense, not argue how many angels fit on the head of a pin,with legal nonsense. The law is not fair when it singles out only one segment of our society. If Virginians don't get satisfaction with the judges, they will simply vote these morons out of office.

Posted by: Tonto | August 13, 2007 3:52 PM

If your driving 20 MPH over the posted speed limit and you get caught just admit you are a bad driver and pay the fine boys and girls.

Posted by: Relax | August 13, 2007 3:54 PM

What I'm reading is mostly people speeding not on the highway, but on the surface streets which is even scarier. How about that woman who was racing herself to the hospital because she thought she was having a baby? That's what I want in my neighborhood. Not.

Posted by: Paul | August 13, 2007 3:59 PM

For those arguing "just don't speed", etc., you're missing the point completely. This isn't about safe driving any more than it's about child care.

The issue at hand is the legislature's attempt to end-run the system by abusing the fee system for what amounts to little more than a tax. The devil is in the implementation.

Posted by: Fearless Freep | August 13, 2007 4:03 PM

Hello:

thuff7 @ August 13, 2007 03:18 PM inquired about the 80 mph speed limit in Texas. That information can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limits_in_the_United_States

It appears that a significant portion of Southwest Texas has increased its speeding limits.

Posted by: Brandon | August 13, 2007 4:05 PM

I agree with the posters who say that driving 80 mph is not inherently dangerous. Speeding is attractive for cops and politicians because is is easily measurable. But if this initative were really about safety and not revenue we would see much more of a focus on other kinds of dangerous driving - cutting back and forth across lanes without signalling, tailgating, driving slowly in the left lane (yes, if you are doing the speed limit in the left lane, you are driving dangerously - you force others to go around you). But these things require juedgement from the cops, and furthermore, the basic culture of good driving is just not present in the United States - people do not learn from the start how to drive well here. Driver's education is very limited and the driving test much too easy to pass.

Posted by: SL | August 13, 2007 4:05 PM

I agree with the posters who say that driving 80 mph is not inherently dangerous. Speeding is attractive for cops and politicians because is is easily measurable. But if this initative were really about safety and not revenue we would see much more of a focus on other kinds of dangerous driving - cutting back and forth across lanes without signalling, tailgating, driving slowly in the left lane (yes, if you are doing the speed limit in the left lane, you are driving dangerously - you force others to go around you). But these things require juedgement from the cops, and furthermore, the basic culture of good driving is just not present in the United States - people do not learn from the start how to drive well here. Driver's education is very limited and the driving test much too easy to pass.

Posted by: SL | August 13, 2007 4:06 PM

Texas has a speed limit of 80 on certain rural roads (with populations less than 10 people per square mile). I doubt any interstate in VA goes through such a sparsely populated area.

Secondly, speed limits are not the same as they were 30-40 years ago, as in 1973 the feds limited the speed limit to 55 mph, then 65 in 1987 and since repealed in 1995.

Third, most speed limits are set by politicians, not engineers. Politicians listen to special interest groups and the speed limits often get set at an arbitary low limit (Drive in PA for an example). Engineers would set them higher, but most roads (i.e. curves, intersections) have been designed for a certain speed limit, therefore changing it to a higher speed would likely make the road more dangerous, or require every curve to a slower recommended speed.

Also, all interstates were not designed with 70 mph speeds; exceptions in mountainous or urban areas were common to meet right-of-way requirements.

Foreign motorways have a lower accident rate (in part) due to their better driver training and increased enforcement (esp Germany).

Posted by: engineer's perspective | August 13, 2007 4:11 PM

Let's talk about the woman having the baby for a minute...Why did the officer instead of writing her a ticket...put her in his cruiser and take her safely to the hospital? Where was his use of judgement? Instead...she is in labor...and the officer holds her up from getting to the hospital...while he fills out his ticket book!

Posted by: Bob | August 13, 2007 4:17 PM

I just had the very unpleasant experience of going to traffic court to fight a ticket. In my case it was for running a stop sign. I could see the cop staring at his dashboard as I was stopped at the sign, I made eye contact with him as he looked up when I pulled away. I got the impression that the judge believed me, but then said guilty because the officer had a "clear and unimpeded view." Okay, I realize that I am not the victim of the greatest injustice in the world and I am not yet subject to these humungous civil penalties, but my point is that policemen are fallible. As part of this new system, are judges getting some kind of instructions that they should not automatically take the policeman's side in every case? I hate to make a disproportionate comparison, but here it is: when a cop is suspected of an unjustified shooting we say that he doesn't have the right to play executioner, so why are we letting him play tax assessor?

Posted by: payne | August 13, 2007 4:34 PM

Does anyone have a plan for how to raise money to address NOVA's transportation crisis? 66 is a run-down mess. 495 is a parking lot. Metro expansion is progressing as quickly as a December turtle race on a molasses track. And the region continues to grow.

Addressing these problems will cost lots of money. I think the current scheme is an example of good intentions gone awry; however, we still need to raise money to spend on transportation.

Posted by: Transportation Post | August 13, 2007 4:34 PM

To directly answer Valerie's question, if I were a judge on the appellate court I would follow my oath to uphold the constitution and laws of the United States and the Commonwealth. Among other things, this means following established principles of constitutional law concerning equal protection, even if I disagree with the result that ensues.

Under those principles, this law doesn't discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, or gender. Accordingly, so-called "rational basis" scrutiny must be applied, meaning the law must be upheld if it is rationally related to a legitimate state interest. As a legal matter (as opposed to a political one) it is hard to argue that Virginia's decision to exempt out-of-staters from the fees does not pass muster under this test given the difficulties and expense of collecting from out-of-state residents. Ditto because Virginia residents obviously use Virginia roads far more than out-of-staters do.

Don't get me wrong, I think these fines suck as much as anyone else and I don't think it's a fair or equitable way to raise road revenue. If the General Assembly needs to raise revenue for roads then they should (gasp!) raise taxes and do it in a way that spreads the burden as fairly and equitably as possible among the population. But it isn't the courts' job to substitute their judgment for that of our elected legislators or to decide what is, politically or socially speaking, fair: that's up to the voters and we will have our chance in November to do just that.

Posted by: Courthouseguy | August 13, 2007 4:36 PM

To answer Bob's question, the woman in labor didn't tell the cop she was in labor.

Posted by: MD Driver | August 13, 2007 5:07 PM

...as a Marylander who has been abused many times by the Virginia State police, Fairfax County police, and the Fairfax County traffic court, I have nothing but contempt for Virginia, its traffic laws and traffic law enforcement. It's time that you people got a dose of your own medicine. Enjoy it, at least until you figure out how to charge out-of-staters a lot more than you charge yourselves.

Posted by: cc | August 13, 2007 5:10 PM

The funny thing about this whole brouhaha is that the legislature enacted these "fees" because they were squeamish about raising the state gas tax by a penny per gallon. In the time since this law was passed, the variability of gas prices has been so high that no one would have even noticed the small change in prices due to a gas tax change.

This never had anything to do with safety. Driving on multi-lane divided, limited access roads in good weather is statistically the safest form of transportation on the planet, regardless of speed.

Posted by: Leesburger | August 13, 2007 5:17 PM

Thank the Lord that when I was doing 137mph down the beltway 3 yrs ago in my awesome Corvette convertible with the bottle of tequila between my legs I only got caught slowing down and clocked at 94mph in a 55mph.

The super smart state trooper said I smelled like booze, but I passed his flashlight eye test thankfully to all the amphetamines.

That left lane vigilante was totally at fault for me getting caught. You see, Johnny Law only noticed me because changed 4 lanes at once.

Being an excellent driver, even better while highly intoxicated, I DISAPPROVE of these onerous and DRACONIAN FINES.

You prohibitionists have got realize the right lane is for you. Not Studs like me.

So make sure next time you shrinking violets are on the highway, you keep a lookout if you are hogging that left.

You just might find a bottle Cuervo Gold in your windshield.


Posted by: Jose Cuervo | August 13, 2007 5:26 PM

And if you're speeding to the hospital to have a baby, at least tell the cop who pulls you over that!

The media is reporting that the lady going 57 in a 35 didn't tell the cop her reason, and she took it to court and didn't tell the judge her reason. Very odd - was she really going to the hospital?

When my wife was pregnant, I had that whole scenario going through my head because it's such a cliche - speeding to the hospital, get pulled over, "but officer, she's having a baby!" And this woman didn't explain to the cop? I think she really was speeding to get another 5 gallon bucket of ice cream, and thought of the baby excuse later. Did any reporter even verify that she went to the hospital that day?

Posted by: GooGooGaaGaa | August 13, 2007 5:47 PM

It'd be nice if people on here engaged in thoughtful, intelligent arguments about this issue. Instead, we get stupidity and non sequiturs all around. And the reality is that there are good arguments on both sides.

So, first off, people should get their facts straight. No, politicians do not set most speed limits -- yes, engineers do -- but there is always a "community" concern about speed limits. If "community" makes you think of elected leaders representing their constituents, then you're right. But "politicians" makes it sound as though speed limits are set to hurt their political opponents.

Second, the fees are for reckless driving, not for mere speeding. Third, driving at 80 mph is not inherently dangerous -- when you're by yourself. It is on a road where there are other people and it's a 55 mph speed limit. Please talk to people who've been rear-ended by someone going too fast and couldn't stop in time and then tell me whether it's dangerous.

Fourth, the fees were not imposed exclusively to reduce dangerous driving. As I mentioned earlier, the motives for the fees was two-fold: reduce dangerous driving AND increase revenue to help build roads. Those facts should be pretty clear to everyone.

Finally, that leaves two essential points: 1) Should road construction be funded by punishment fees?
2) Are these fees draconian? That is, are they disproportionate relative to the severity of the infraction?

All other posts making red herring or non sequitur arguments should be deleted.

Posted by: Ryan | August 13, 2007 5:47 PM

"Fourth, the fees were not imposed exclusively to reduce dangerous driving. As I mentioned earlier, the motives for the fees was two-fold: reduce dangerous driving AND increase revenue to help build roads. Those facts should be pretty clear to everyone."

Actually, the facts on this are very clear. These fees were created for revenue generation alone. Safety was never a consideration--it was a balancing act between VA Republicans who objected to any increased gas taxes, and Democrats who demanded them. The "fees" were the result of the negotiations. Don't kid yourself thinking that "safety" entered into the discussions. It was about what they could sell to their constituencies.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2007 5:54 PM

The "rational basis" test is pretty easy to meet, but the idea that there is a rational basis in excluding out of state drivers fails the test of logic. If the purpose is to pay for roads, then it is by definition unfair to put the burden solely on Va. residents. Clearly non residents contribute heavily to road use in Va., esp I-95.

In theory, the proportion of tickets which would trigger these punitive fines (which is what they are, fees my a$$) from out of staters should approximate their use of the interstates & Va. roads, therefore the rational basis argument in favor of the law is highly flawed, it is no different than making the tolls on I-95 in Delaware, or the Balt. tunnels, or anywhere else, applicable only to residents of Del. or Md., respectively, and giving out of staters a free pass.

The simple solution is to fire anyone who voted for or supports these draconian stealth fines. But voters rarely have the backbone to follow their thoughts that way, so we'll see what happens this time (I'm "lucky", my reps opposed it).

Posted by: fendertweed | August 13, 2007 6:27 PM

Virginia House Bill 3202 was designed to provide additional funds to address various transportation needs in the Commonwealth. Safety as as reason is now being used by the sponsors because of the massive resistence to these draconian fees.
The law is illogical and unfair. It does not apply to out-of-state drivers who can "Abuse" Virginia's roads with impunity.
My solution is to "Vote the bums out" of office.

Posted by: Lon Caldwell | August 13, 2007 6:32 PM

Ryan wrote: "Second, the fees are for reckless driving, not for mere speeding. Third, driving at 80 mph is not inherently dangerous -- when you're by yourself. It is on a road where there are other people and it's a 55 mph speed limit. Please talk to people who've been rear-ended by someone going too fast and couldn't stop in time and then tell me whether it's dangerous."

Ryan is wrong: the fees can apply to someone who is reckless: eight points can do it, so 3 totally ordinary speeding tickets (the typical 11 over the limit, say 66 in a 55, which is nothing), having nothing to do with reckless driving, can get one into draconian fine hell. This is not good driving by any means, but it's a far cry from reckless....

The law is utterly flawed, based on deceptive purported defenses, and was sponsored by a lawyer who does a healthy defense practice in these kinds of cases, so there is bad judgment and self-interested dealing all over this scheme.

I wonder if Mr. Albo (the sponsor) would go on record and commit that neither he nor his law firm will take any cases relating to the punishment fines, or maybe he'll handle the cases pro bono (without a fee).... NOT

Posted by: fendertweed | August 13, 2007 6:32 PM

... my comment above should read "... the fees can apply to someone who is NOT reckless..."

Posted by: fendertweed | August 13, 2007 6:34 PM

Once again, yes, safety was involved. If they simply wanted to raise revenue, they could have increased fees for other lesser infractions. Please think before you write.

Posted by: Ryan | August 13, 2007 6:49 PM

"Once again, yes, safety was involved. If they simply wanted to raise revenue, they could have increased fees for other lesser infractions. Please think before you write."

Ditto Ryan. If they wanted to increase safety, there are numerous other options that don't leverage these nonsensical "fees" such as increased enforcement of existing traffic laws. By levying "fees" in a highway funding bill without addressing safety concerns concretely, they are clearly generating revenue first and foremost.

Just because someone doesn't agree with your opinion doesn't mean that they don't think. In fact, they may be thinking more critically than you.

Posted by: Leesburger | August 13, 2007 7:20 PM

People keep saying that the fees are for 20 mph over the limit. That is true only if the limit is 60 or less. 80mph is reckless driving even if the average speed in a 65mph zone is 75. Over 80 is reckless driving period. Also the argument provided recently by a circuit court judge that Virginians should pay more as they use the roads more, makes sense only if all Virginians pay more, not if just a few a "taxed" to pay for all Virginians. Finally, the average family net worth of the bottom 40% of US citizens its just $1,200. Taking away a family's net worth is overkill in most cases.

Posted by: Hpicot | August 13, 2007 8:07 PM

The question posed by the guest blogger isn't the right one. I trust the appellate judge makes the right technical legal judgment -- that's their job. Perhaps these stupid fees are constitutional, and if so, that's what the judge should rule.

The real question is what we all (taxpayers and voters) should decide to do when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

On the revenue front, the first step should be to abolish the user fees law completely. Then, preferably, find another revenue source (raise gas taxes a few cents a gallon is my suggestion) or, if necessary, cut back on construction proportionately. The Washington Post has run stories about how two other states (NJ and, I think, Michigan) put in similar fees when THEY were desperate for money and didn't want to raise taxes. According to the reporting, the driver fees in those states are almost universally hated by law enforcement, the public, and advocates for the poor, but the state governments have become as addicted to the money as a crack addict--they just can't give them up, solely for revenue reasons. Let's not add our state to the list. We are lucky to have a chance to walk away.

On the traffic front, I'd like to see a return to the common-sense distinction between "speeding" (a bad thing that gets you a ticket, but doesn't get you "in trouble with the law" like, say, stealing or forging a check) and "reckless driving" (a misdemeanor that can result in a suspended license and possible jail time (prosecutors in this area will try for it), as well as getting you dumped from your car insurance, affecting your chances of getting a job or a clearance or a rental car, etc.). As to the latter, at least in Northern Virginia, it's incorrect to assume that the system "wouldn't really" do all that to a driver who only got caught doing 21 over the limit and has a clean record.

Virginia is at an extreme among all the states in setting the bar TOO LOW for reckless driving. That woman who was (as she thought) in labor should have gotten a speeding ticket, and in any other state that's what would have happened. But in Virginia she gets a "reckless driving" charge for 56 in a 35. That's insane.

I hope that the legislature finally looks at the effect of these reckless driver laws on ordinary citizens -- with or without the abuser fees -- and brings the definition of reckless driving into line with other states. There's a difference between that and ordinary speeding that's been getting lost in the shuffle.

Posted by: Common Sense Please | August 13, 2007 8:16 PM

Hell, they will get the money anyway. DWI own driveway car locked 30 yards etc. All the cop has to do is lie. Well. they will pay in the long run.

Posted by: Bones | August 13, 2007 8:38 PM

""I sometimes get the urge to slam on brakes while being tailgated, just to teach that person a lesson."

A better (and safer!!!!) idea: Turn on your windscreen washer for a bit. Some of the spray will go over your car and hit the windshield of the car behind you. I've done this many times and the tailgater usually backs off as he turns on his wipers.'

An even better idea: GET THE ___ OUT OF THE WAY!

You never know if the guy behind you is some nut who's praying for a chance to use his gun, prove his manhood, or impress his date.

You could be DEAD right. Only an idiot would slam his brakes in front of a tailgater and risking antagonizing someone by turning on windshield washers is beyond stupid.

Or maybe the guy behind you is just someone with an emergency or trying to get to an important appointment on time (spare me the "they should leave earlier"; in this traffic leaving earlier doesn't always matter).

Either way, no one left anyone in charge of enforcing the speed limit. Besides, slower traffic is supposed to move to the right.

Posted by: CEEAF | August 13, 2007 8:41 PM

to courthouseguy - isn't the reason we have a 3 part government (legislative, judicial and executive) to balance power? An judge must make sure that a law passed by the other branches does not violate prior laws on the books and is correctly applied to the situation brought to his/her attention. Please do correct me if I am wrong about this but I thought that's what I learned in social studies.

From what I have read, the criminal fines remain unchanged but a civil fee is assessed as well. The civil fee is difficult to swallow - massive fees presented to the public as a way to raise revenue (yeah, I'd hire that PR guy to promote my company - NOT). If you want to improve Virginia drivers then offer education to offenders, support classroom and practicum driver education in schools, teach parents how to teach their kids how to drive, only assess these fees for repeat offenders or those who refuse defensive driving education. I think that the lawmakers went for the pocketbook before trying to implement an actual plan that might rehabilitate or deter drivers and it's a sad place to be to actually see politicians as greedy rather than just joke about it.

Posted by: hamburke | August 13, 2007 10:48 PM

lets remove the fine and add speed cameras at 50 a pop per ticket. oh wait. that's "outrageous!" big brother etc. let's pretend that going faster doesn't cause a worse crash. less repeal reckless driving as a charge it "outrageous!" driving drunk isn't hazardous..or at least wasn't a big deal 30 years ago..lets all drive fast and drunk-
ive never seen such P

Posted by: gary | August 14, 2007 1:04 AM

I will be a one issue voter in the next Virginia election. If you voted for this idiotic law, you won't get my vote.

It's completely unfair that all those people from WV, PA and NJ are not subject to the same punishment when they are just *flying* down I-81 going at least 85 mph.

That actually makes the road even less safe.

Posted by: Daphne | August 14, 2007 8:43 AM

"'A better (and safer!!!!) idea: Turn on your windscreen washer for a bit. Some of the spray will go over your car and hit the windshield of the car behind you. I've done this many times and the tailgater usually backs off as he turns on his wipers.'

"An even better idea: GET THE ___ OUT OF THE WAY!"

CEEAF, as I asked yesterday of another poster (and never got an answer), so what do you propose that someone do when he is going 70 mph in the right lane of the Beltway and someone tailgates him? How is one to "get the ___ out of the way" in that situation?

Posted by: Rich | August 14, 2007 8:48 AM

The state that I live in has decided to use an illegal/unconstitutional method to raise revenue. If that is the case, then I have to use whatever methods I have to defend myself: the best radar detector money can buy! It's still cheaper than the Virginia fine.

Our officers no longer protect and serve anyways. They are tax collectors and bullys with crew cuts, bad mustaches and terrible sun glasses. A G.E.D. doesn't give them the right to interpret the laws for me!

http://www.radarbusters.com/

Posted by: smellthebacon | August 14, 2007 9:13 AM

Thank you, Rich. I have the same problem when I'm driving on the right and when I'm in a 25 mph zone.
ms1234, believe me, I wouldn't be the one getting an ass beating. I'm not advocating violence or road rage, but some people act like they can't read the posted speed limit, and I refuse to risk getting a ticket just because some jacko-- is late or wants to show off his luxury car or is in a hurry to get to the airport (taxicab drivers).

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | August 14, 2007 9:14 AM

These are fees and not fines because under the Virginia constitition all fines have to be desposited into the Literacy Fund for the Commonwealth's school systems (Art. VIII, Sec. 8, Paragraph 1: the literacy fund shall consist (among other things) "of all fines collected for offenses committed against the Commonwealth"). That's why they called them fees and not fines, not because of any supposed altruism on their part.

Posted by: Moose | August 14, 2007 10:59 AM

Ok they set speed limits for a reason and if you dont like what it is TOO BAD! I am sick and tired of driving down the road watching passing drivers doing ridiculous speeds that werent even close to the speed limit posted.

Driving down I-85 one night I got caught up behind 2 serious fatal accidents, Yet when traffic opened up again low and behold the speeding continued. I mean what the he**?!?!? Going over the speed limit has absolutely NOTHING to do with knowing how to drive safely. Obeying the speed limit means you care about your family and dont want them upset if you get killed cause you were being stupid and speeding. Yes it is ok to go 5 -7 over the posted limit but 20? i think not. If speeding and killing someone and perhaps spending years in jail for vehicular manslaughter is your idea of a fun activity then by all means enjoy have fun. I will continue to stay in the left lane if I so choose, I pay my taxes and if you dont like it too f-ing bad I could care less. Oh and if you do so happen to run into me on a highway and you dont like the fact I wont move over for you, please by all means move over and hand me some money for my gas tank and I will be happy to let you pass. :)))

Posted by: ms9876 | August 14, 2007 3:27 PM

ms9876, if you "could care less," why don't you?

Posted by: Rich | August 14, 2007 4:05 PM

well that's just ridiculous, ms9876. your practice of utterly non-defensive driving by doing the exact speed limit is what gets people killed. you can't trust the law to always protect you: there's always going to be people who speed, and carry guns, and rob. even with daconian fees, your ass is bound to be someone's grass.

Posted by: english major | August 14, 2007 5:02 PM

by non-defensive driving, i mean going slow in the left-most lane. it's just asking for bad things! stop hurting yourself.

Posted by: english major | August 14, 2007 5:06 PM

"you can't trust the law to always protect you"

Not to mention that he's breaking the law by cruising at the speed limit in the left lane in Virginia. A statute provides that a driver in the left lane shall give way, when a visible or audible signal is given (e.g., flash your lights; honk your horn; use your left indicator; unclear whether giving the finger counts!!!), to a faster vehicle approaching from behind. It does not say that the driver need not give way if he is doing the speed limit: rather, the law is that you move over to the right.

I found it extremely refreshing in April to drive up the M4 from Bristol to Heathrow and to see everyone practice proper lane discipline, using the right lane only for passing and moving back to the left as soon as the pass was complete. (Bear in mind that when you drive on the left, the right lane is the passing lane.) Here in the States, it seems that people are afraid to drive in the right lane...I've often found that I get through the fastest by keeping to the right (which is what I try to do anyway).

Posted by: Rich | August 14, 2007 5:09 PM

I think the fees are a great idea. Why shouldn't the people who are breaking the law and putting the rest of us in danger every single day pay a hefty fine? I think it's very refreshing. I applaud the politicians who initiated this policy and will support them in future elections.

Posted by: Ann | August 14, 2007 6:32 PM

I never said I do the EXACT speed limit. I tend to do what I have been told by cops is a safe speeding limit that wont cause me to get a ticket. If you feel the need to go over the speed limit by 10mph then go around. I just dont understand why after all of the fatality accidents on the highways people find it perfectly fine to keep putting others lives in danger. IF YOU WANT TO SPEED JOIN NASCAR for cying out loud!

Posted by: ms9876 | August 15, 2007 6:18 PM

Doesn't matter if you're doing 10 over--if someone comes up doing faster, the law, not to mention SIMPLE DECENCY AND COURTESY, require you to move to the right. So just do it and shut up about NASCRAP.

Posted by: Rich | August 16, 2007 9:02 AM

"Yup. So I want you to stop treating people like Rosa Parks as though they did something admirable. The law required blacks to move to the back of the bus and she refused. That means that she broke the LAW that she was 'supposed to obey & uphold.'

This country was FOUNDED on opposition to laws that were considered unjust (taxes, in particular). Spare us the righteous indignation that 'the law is the law.'"

Oh my God. PLEASE tell me you did not just compare Rosa Park's sacrifice, which benefited not just all Birmingham blacks but all of America, to some spoiled motorist who just can't be bothered to drive within 20 mph of the speed limit.

Man. Speeding as some grand statement of civil disobedience. Only in DC.

Posted by: NYC | August 16, 2007 10:27 AM

NYC, you don't have much of a sense of humor, do you? I can't believe you read that as such a serious statement.

Posted by: Spare me | August 16, 2007 5:53 PM

Marc, some of those other drivers on I-95 -- who were driving with or close to the flow of traffic -- might have honked to say that your significantly slower speed was increasing the collision risk for you and other traffic.

If the flow of traffic is, say, 70-75, and you're going 55 (perhaps in the middle lane?), the drivers coming up behind you must either brake hard, or pull around you...sharply.

Because of the speed DIFFERENCE, the time and space for those maneuvers are compressed -- which is where the risk comes in.

Not a good thing, since decision-making takes time, decisions aren't always perfect, and we're not always all paying perfect attention.

Oh, and if you're driving 55 in the LEFT lane, that risk is now FAR greater, since the drivers coming up behind you will likely pull around you on your RIGHT, which is where, on average, you'll find slower vehicles and less room to pass.

If you were going, say, 65, and the traffic coming up behind you was going 70, much more time and space for decision-making. Much safer for everyone.

Yes, it's a traffic infraction, but most drivers instinctively understand that reducing the speed difference will keep them safer. They weigh the ticket risk against the collision risk and take the ticket risk to keep themselves and their families safer.

Ironically, we might actually be better off if the 55 limit were raised to 60 or 65, with police speed enforcement targeting the extreme outliers -- both excessively fast, and excessively slow in the passing lane.

There would be less speed DIFFERENCE, partly because a higher percentage of drivers would feel the higher limit was more reasonable.

The new Virginia fees are all about the money. Good intentions...build roads. Absolutely appalling execution. Cops turned into tax collectors. Judges barred from adjusting the fees. Non-Virginians exempt (and no practical way to collect even if they weren't, since the interstate compact doesn't sanction excessive fines), clogged courts since many more drivers will hire lawyers to fight the extreme fees, and a good number of families, who are just hanging on, might be pushed over the edge.

All this because the General Assembly is afraid to raise the gas tax by one cent, and figure out how to allocate that penny to roads.

Is this the best we can do?

Posted by: JD | August 18, 2007 10:43 AM

I agree with JD. The other day, a trooper stopped me for doing 70 in a 55 mph zone, but let me off with a warning. Since then, needless to say, I have been doing 55 mph, but it is creating a very unsafe situation, as I am constantly being passed, with some angry drivers swerving around me. I used to drive with the flow of traffic for exactly the reasons that JD states, but now dare not do so, and as a result the roads are just that much LESS safe. I don't blame the trooper, who was just doing his job, but the current traffic laws and the new emphasis on enforcement for cash are really irresponsible. I plan to register my feelings about that in the voting booth and hope that others will do the same.

Posted by: lydgate | August 20, 2007 1:18 PM

Just say SLOW

Posted by: katman | August 20, 2007 3:33 PM

Actually I had a vehicle that would not go faster than 65. I stayed in the right hand lane when I drove the interstate and had a similar experience as did Marky and other posters. People would tailgate and run up close to by rear bumper before they would finally get a clue and go around. It was terrifying and I was going 10 OVER the speed limit. The politicans should get a clue and pass a gas tax, but then I guess they will not get all those free golf trips paid by the Energey Lobby.

Posted by: katman | August 20, 2007 3:42 PM

Americans just need to be subjected to stricter driver examinations and more thorough driver's education. Drivers in this country lack basic skills. Most driver's education courses don't even have significant coverage of freeway driving as part of the curriculum.

Posted by: Matt | August 26, 2007 11:12 AM

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