Posted by: bridget | 26 July 2007

Virginia Implements Traffic Fine Increases

The great commonwealth of Virginia, finding itself short on revenue, has decided to add a fee on top of traffic violation fines. The lowest fee will be $900 for the least serious of offenses; the highest will be $2,250 for first-time drunk driving offenses. A list of wrongdoing and fines is here. A full explanation of fees is available here. (Note that not using a turn signal will cost Virginians $1,050.)

This has prompted outrage. The town of Front Royal may ignore the fees and not allow its jurisdiction to participate in their collection. Similar measures in New Jersey and Michigan have caused significant portions of low-income residents to lose their licenses, as they cannot afford the fines. The Virginia law does not allow judges to reduce the fine.

A new online petition which requests the repeal of this nonsense has, at time of post, received 162,000 signatures.

The Commonwealth stated that the fees will generate $65/million in revenue per year. It also stated that the funds will come from the very worst of drivers – the worst 2.5%. This is plainly nonsense. The text of the bill states that:



will result in a $1,050 fine. So if a kid runs out into the street and you slam on your breaks, be prepared to cough up $1,050. Better get that furniture shipped: it’s now going to cost you $1,050 if you’re caught with a papasan chair in your trunk.

There are 7,642,000 persons residing in Virginia, of which 5,045,000 are licensed drivers. Now, Virginia could impose a $13/year tax on driver’s licenses to obtain the necessary $65 million, or a $0.01/gallon increase in the gasoline tax. Instead, it decided to play Russian Roulette with its tax system. A lucky few will avoid having to pay anything (despite a benefit received in terms of highway projects); others will be financially ruined. Most Virginians would prefer to cough up the $13/year and call it a day, rather than worrying about a $1,050 for speeding in a church parking lot (Sec. 46.2-864).

The stated purpose of this legislation is to increase highway funds for use in Northern Virginia. There is something utterly perverse in a system which encourages the government to find wrongdoing in order to balance its budget: the criminal system is not a weapon for tax collection.

Sic semper tyrannis.



  1. Wow… not using a turn signal is a classified as a “crime” rather than “traffic infraction.”
    Grateful to not be living in the Commonwealth, as my husband would bankrupt us!
    I love how the talking points are all about safety. Like cigarettes and the like… if these people are so dangerous, then get them off the roads. But no, it’s so much easier to bleed them dry,

  2. Good point. In New Jersey, a lot of poor people can’t afford to keep their licenses after one traffic violation.

    I can understand some of the crimes, like not stopping for a blind person who is in a crosswalk. Some of them are so vague, though, like speeding in a church parking lot, that it’s really impossible to disprove.

  3. It only applies too Va. residents. Not that I’m driving down anytime soon but good to know. Pach did you know that your former Commonwealth has a surcharge on top of speeding tickets that goes to a private entity ? Ma. Brain Injury. Pimping the police for private foundations nice huh ?

  4. I forgot to mention that it’s only Virginia residents. Possibly, it may be hard to get that much money out of out-of-staters.

    Did not know about my former Commonwealth. Is that even constitutional?

    Moreover, if you are forced to give money to a charitable organisation, shouldn’t it be tax-deductible?

    Of course, anyone who opposes that looks like a big meanie who is hating on the brain-damaged. Pathetic.

  5. “The Commonwealth stated that the fees will generate $65/million in revenue per year”

    And it will also generate tons of distrust and animosity toward the police department and local police EVEN IF they are only doing their job. Although, cynic I often am, I have no doubt these same cops who say, “Sorry” when they give you a ticket don’t really care and will enjoy sticking it to us regular citizens. Thank goodness I don’t live in Va.

    At least they are announcing this publicly. Remember when Va. put up FAKE construction zones so they would get away with doubling fines? What a joke.

  6. Wow, I guess I’m not that familiar with VA and their tactics to put the squeeze on drivers for their spending desires. Ouch.

    Of course, anyone who opposes that looks like a big meanie who is hating on the brain-damaged.

    I’m thinking that big meanies would make a great Republican slogan ;)

  7. PS. Thanks for being patient with my new location. It’s been difficult, especially with being out of town. But, we’re home now! I hope it starts working better for you! Thanks for hanging in there with me. Have you looked into using a reader? Just curious :)

  8. Total Transformation,

    Don’t remember the fake construction zones. One more problem wtih those is that they cause people to ignore the real ones.

    The ticket revenue doesn’t go into local coffers, which is actually problematic. Local police still want the revenue from normal tickets, so they won’t feel badly about handing them out.

  9. Tammi,

    Good point re: Republican slogan. ;)

    I’m using a Google Reader now – had to, after you, MZ, Steve, Tieki, and Velvet all left WordPress.

  10. Wow, thanks for the heads up. We drive through Virginia for a bit when we drive North to South going to Florida and back. Any word on the penalty for speeding? Do you have a license to practice law in Virginia? I might need some help…….steve

  11. Lol Bridget. Glad we could convince you to go the reader route :)

  12. Steve,

    They only levy the additional fees on Virginia residents. Well, my residency is over there so my vote can count, but damn! What a price that I could pay.


    Well, ya know, had to cave after y’all left.

  13. Driver’s using Turn Signal’s, before moving their Lethal Weapon’s from Right to Left, allow’s anyone nearby that split Second Extra Reaction Time to React to, It is when people dont have that flashing Notification that they are caused to SWERVE, and it is that Swerve that too often , Result’s in Road Run-Off’s, Resulting in Head-on Crashes,
    Roll-ver’s, Side- Impact, ECT. ECT.
    As a Professional driver for over 33 Years and over 3.5
    million mile’s traveled in my Career, I have seen people Killed in front of my face as the Result of driver,s not Signaling their Intent white driving a Lethal Weapon. Since a person can either be Lost or Saved all in an Instant.
    That Split Second Extra Time a person has to React to when a right or left signal is Flashing, so you know not to go to the right or left at the same time, Really is that Important!
    Respectfully, Heather G. Derusha

  14. “Driver’s using Turn Signal’s” “Result’s” “Roll-ver’s” “mile’s”

    Obviously they are more important than correct apostrophe usage. lol. Just kidding Heather. But, you do realize that you don’t need to use an apostrophe every time you make a word plural, right? You only need an apostrophe when the word is possessive.

  15. Heather,

    Thanks for commenting. :) FYI: the link to your myspace page doesn’t work.

    I do agree that it can be dangerous to not use a turn signal. It can also be dangerous to drive at the speed limit when everyone else is going over it; it can be dangerous to drive on old tires (I was spared an accident once because I had purchased a new set of tires the day before), and it can be dangerous to run a red light. Virginia, however, does not account for any of those behaviours in its increased fine scheme.

    For you, it’s a driving question. For me, it’s a legal question: how should we punish people who do something that is dangerous? Should the ticket (and the insurance penalty) be enough, or should we impose onerous burdens on them? There is no requirement of recklessness (i.e. a person who would be affected by the lack of turn signal) – a person can get the $1000 fine while driving down a deserted highway at 2 am.

    I’ve actually seen and heard of situations where a person doesn’t have time to use a turn signal before getting over to avoid the accident – they only have enough time to look for a safe place to put their car and go. (This is especially applicable for those who drive manual transmission cars – if you are a professional driver, you probably have an automatic.) Nevertheless, the way this law is written, that person would get a $1,000 fine for avoiding such an accident.

    I grew up in Boston. No one uses turn signals there!

  16. “I grew up in Boston. No one uses turn signals there!”
    Me too ! It keeps the pedestrians honest huh ?

  17. Ya know, In2theFray, I don’t appreciate personal jabs like that…

  18. Just in case you’re serious….It wasn’t a personal jab. I was roundly critiqued by white knuckled passengers in Colorado Springs once whence driving while Bostonian. It was on Academy Blvd a road know for bad driving locally. So it wasn’t a dig and apologies r extended

  19. No, not serious – just giving you a hard time. :) It’s how I show affection.

    Still laughing at the idea of a Boston driver freaking people out. For what it’s worth, my friends put me in charge of driving in downtown San Fran, under the theory that I was the best-equipped to do so. I thought it was easy driving – they all thought it was something out of Demolition Derby.

  20. I want to move out of state. I feel we’re moved back into
    the dark ages. Whats next the dungeon.

  21. Ditto that, Rachel. Sign the petition! Complain to the House of Delegates! :)

  22. Last week Actor George Clooney was almost Killed while ridding his motorcycle, because the car next to him had it’s Left turn signal Flashing and then made an Abrupt Right turn in front of George Clooney, Thereby causing the crash.
    If the car would have had it’s Right turn signal Flashing, There is no way George Clooney would have Sped up at that same split second on the Right side of the the Mazda car.
    How many People have to be Killed or Injured before they have a Heavy Crack down on enforcement of the Turn Signal Law’s that require driver’s in all 50 States, To First signal their intent before changing lane’s
    Last year in the USA 23,000 People(63 a day) were Killed in crashes the NHTSA
    Calls Unintended Lane Change Crashes.
    I say the crashes are not intended, But most of the lane change’s are, driver’s just look and go.
    Unfortunately there are too many driver’s using this behavior at the same time.
    Respectfully, Heather Derusha Professional driver
    Madeira beach Florida

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