Who Would Have Guessed? Abuser Fees Spiral Out of Control.

I’m back from an out-of-town trip, so I’m catching up on things. I couldn’t overlook this article from the Washington Post. It seems that Virginia may have to issue up to 300,000 license suspensions to drivers for failure to pay abusive driver fees.

A report prepared by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, “paints a picture of a fee system that is almost out of control, with descriptions of some police officers unwilling to write tickets because they are sympathetic to motorists or wary of too much time in court.” Also, write Anita Kumar and Tim Craig:

The report … 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.

The report estimates there could be 137,000 suspensions because of the fees through the end of June. An additional 181,000 suspensions could occur because of the fees in the next fiscal year. State officials said the projections represent a substantial increase over the numbers of suspensions generally issued, but they could not provide exact figures.

Enough said. No need to beat a dead horse.

(Hat tip: John Betts)

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5 responses to “Who Would Have Guessed? Abuser Fees Spiral Out of Control.”

  1. Groveton Avatar

    The abuser fees are already providing benefits beyond money. Not only are the fines feeding the state coffers they are cutting down on the number of people legally allowed to drive – which reduces congestion.

    What is the total budget of all law enforcement agencies in Virginia (state and local)?

    How much (what percent) of the police’s time is spent dealing with the problems associated with bad driving (everything from running a radar trap to writing tickets to working a fatal accident scene)?

    If I multiply the total budget times the percentage of time spent dealing with bad driving problems – what number do I get?

    Are the abuser fees less than, equal to or more than the cost of law enforcement applicable to bad driving?

    If less than or equal to – isn’t this a user (or, in this case, abuser) pays structure?

    Is the “user pays” approach a good idea for NoVA roads but a bad idea for Henrico law enforcement?

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Yet, I think I heard on the radio that the fees have not increased road safety.

    Is this a situation like anti-lock brakes, which increased the incidence of tailgating?

    Take 180,000 people off the roads and the rest drive that much faster?

    Considering the spotty enforcement, this looks more and more like a reverse lottery.


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    The reason they don’t work along with most “safety” enforcement is simply there is no corresponding response for bad behavior. The probability of being ticketed for a traffic offense is so minute that psychologically a person can’t link the 2 events. Throw in the fact that one can be ticketed heavily for very minor offenses (not signaling) that their is a total disconnect between bad behavior and the penalty; a reverse lottery as RH noted.

    So the state by increasing the fees hasn’t changed the possibility of getting caught and hasn’t changed overall road safety. In fact it may make it worse since police are more likely to not ticket someone due to the severe nature of the penalty. It’s similar to when the states increase jail sentences for crimes rather than just increase enforcement and solve the crimes. Crime doesn’t go down, but politicians look like they did something.


  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Is this issue a potential “bow wave” of other changes?

    ….”Incoming Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (Fairfax) said the fees will be a top priority. “You are going to see a ton of bills,” said Saslaw, who refused to rule out raising the gas tax to replace the fees.


    House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) said the transportation package, which was designed to increase roads and mass transit funding by $1 billion annually, could unravel if legislators push to repeal the fees. He said some delegates want to get rid of the regional taxing districts in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, which account for the bulk of the funding in the transportation plan.

    “If you start taking out one piece, why can’t you take out that second piece and then the third piece?” Griffith said. “Before you know it, all that hard work that created the largest increase in transportation funding in history is going to unravel.”


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    And the Post reported taht a penny on the gas tax would replace all the revenue from the user fees.


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