Lawmakers might do well to click here and practice a bit before taking a wrecking ball to judicial practices that have evolved over the decades. The unintended consequences were so very, very easy to foresee.

As the risk of coming across as sanctimonious as Lisa Simpson, permit me to observe that, among the many drawbacks I anticipated to flow from the enactment of Abuser Fees, were (1) an increase in the number of people fighting their tickets, (2) a surge in court cases creating backlogs in traffic court, and (3) an inability of many people to pay their fees, with the result that revenue forecasts would fall short of the projected $65 million a year.

Now, it appears, the first two unintended consequences are about to hit us. Writes Amy Gardner in the Washington Post:

This week, next week and week after week after that, thousands of traffic cases that carry steep new civil penalties will slam the state’s judicial system. … Judges and court clerks predict an unprecedented wave of trials, appeals, strategies and anger as they begin to hear cases subject to the new law.

“They’re picking up,” said Nancy L. Lake, clerk of the Fairfax County General District Court, who is expecting the current few cases to grow to as many as hundreds a day in coming weeks. …

Donald P. McDonough, chief judge of Fairfax County’s General District Court, predicted a “profound effect” on the county’s traffic dockets. The clerk’s office is required to collect the first of three annual installments from convicted offenders (the others are collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles). McDonough predicted longer waits to pay fines — not to mention longer waits to be heard in court. With the volume of cases going to trial likely to grow, cases are going to be delayed for days or longer, he said.

To repeat the questions I’ve raised before: How much will it cost local courts to process these fees? How much lost time on the job will it cost in local police and state police while waiting in court to testify? How much will it cost local clerks to collect the fees? How much will it cost to jail those convicted on driving on suspended licenses incurred because they were unable to pay the fees? Will Abuser Fees accomplish anything more than robbing Peter (local governments) to pay Paul (state road construction projects)?
For those who can’t get enough of the Abuser Fee controversy (or who’d like to see an amusing application of PhotoShop), drop by this website, “His Excellency’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth about Tim Kaine, the GOP, and Imbecilic Abuser Fees.” (Hat tip: Publius II)

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6 responses to “D’oh!”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    and WHY did we do this to start with?

    was it because our Conservative friends were steadfastly opposed to higher taxes?

    seems like… we always hear the blather about “tax and spend” and sticking to the principals of smaller government and letting the taxpayer keep more of their money

    .. so… in some sort of truly tortured logic… THIS is the way we avoid higher taxes…

    .. and I think Kaine (or his staff) are way more intelligent about this that we give them credit for.

    .. essentially.. he can support this – as something the other side of the aisle cooked up… and the longer he “supports” them – the longer they twist in the wind.

    Way cool!

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I think it is clear that we have executed or sent to death row at least some people who are innocent. Much as I’d like to see the real SOB’s get fried, I’m not sanguine this will be administered with anywhere near as much care as a capital case.

    If we need an incentive for more walking, this might be it.


  3. Rtwng Extrmst Avatar
    Rtwng Extrmst

    Sorry Larry. The real blame lies at the feet of liberals (both Republican and Democrat) who chose to play politics rather than try to really solve our transportation problems. They blocked any attempt at reform that was not more money for the state coffers.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross


    did those nasty liberals FORCE those poor defenseless Conservatives to pass that abomination?

    oh… I see now… they passed the abuser fees to teach those liberals a lesson…


    seriously… I thought they did not allow liberals in the Va GA.. what gives?

  5. Rtwng Extrmst Avatar
    Rtwng Extrmst


    What gives is the Liberals were more interested in political intransigence than solving a problem. There were plenty of opportunities to look at real solutions to our traffic problems, but the coalition of the liberal Repubs (Potts, Chichester, et al) and the Democrats stopped every one of them in committee. Instead they tried to push more taxes, which of course is no guarantee of a solution! Bottom line, many in the ned supported the bill including the fees because they saw no other solution that might do some good. They swallowed a bad pill (fees) in order to get some results (transportation projects) without huge tax increases that could be then transferred to pork barrell projects later.

    As for whether there are Liberals in the GA, please… You must not pay much attention to the GA sessions.

  6. Groveton Avatar

    1. An increase in people fighting their tickets – who cares?

    2. A surge in court cases creating backlogs in traffic court. Corporate style remedy = overtime work for courts and court personnel. Bonuses for court personnel based on a percentage of the teckets ultimately paid.

    3. Inability of many people to pay their fees. Corporate style remedy – walk. Save on gas while walking. Pay ticket with saved gas money. Recover car and stop breaking the law.

    4. Jail costs for offenders – orporate style remedy – deport one illegal alien for each person who would have been put in jail for failure to pay. Make person who failed to pay work job of illegal alien while contributing to the state until ticket is paid. Then ask former redneck about his/her opinion of illegal alians.

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