State May Be Sued Over New Law

By: Whitney Holmes Email
By: Whitney Holmes Email

July 12, 2007

The state may have a lawsuit on its hands because of its new so-called abusive driver fees which aims to have the worst drivers pay for the costs of new highways in the state.

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute says the new law is not only unfair, it is unconstitutional.

He has written a letter to state lawmakers saying they need to change it or face a lawsuit.

Whitehead says the fees violate the Constitution's fourteenth amendment by treating citizens unequally. Currently, the fees place steeper penalties on Virginia drivers than on out-of-state ones.

"In a 25 mile per hour zone, you have a fellow from New York and a fellow from Virginia," explained Whitehead. "The fellow from Virginia is trailing him and they are going 46 mile per hour. They are both pulled over. On the same day that they are fined, in that same mile per hour zone, the Virginia fellow will be fined with a $1,200 fee. The fellow from New York will get a $200 fee because he is from New York, does that seem fair?"

Whitehead suggests raising taxes to get money for transportation or levying the same amount of fees on all drivers, including out of state ones.

Lawmakers have not yet responded to his letter. However, last month Governor Tim Kaine said he has received a lot of criticism of the new law and that it may need to be revisited.

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