Abusive Driving Fees Make Mother Feel More Than Labor Pains

August 13, 2007

A pregnant woman speeding to the hospital was stopped on her way and charged with civil fees on top of the traffic fines as part of Virginia's abusive driving laws.

Jessica Hodges is the proud mom of newborn Allesandra. Feeling labor pains last month, Jessica decided she needed some help fast.

"I was speeding and I was rushing to the hospital because I didn't know if I was going into labor or not and a cop pulled me over" said Hodges.

Little Allesandra's college fund took a big hit before she was born.

"They gave me a fine plus civil penalties which is $350 for the next three years" said Hodges.

Doing 57 in a 35 mile-an-hour zone Hodges was hit with Virginia's new abusive driving law which imposes big civil fees on top of traffic fines when the offenses are deemed egregious or when drivers have too many points.

But those fees only apply to Virginia drivers, not to out-of-state drivers .

"I don't think its very fair that the fines are so excessive for the Virginia drivers but not for non-Virginia drivers for the same offense" said one Virginian.

That's probably unconstitutional in the end and the new law does face challenges in a variety of courts. But advocates want to crack down on abusive drivers.

"9,600 people, that's three times the number of soldiers who have died in Iraq have died on Virginia roads in the last 10 years" said Republican Virginia State Delegate David Albo.

Nonetheless, more than 170,000 opponents have signed an online petition to dump the law. State legislators have heard the complaints and now say they will amend or repeal the law

"I think anyone who has paid this fine, this excessive fine, should be reimbursed" said said Democratic State Senator Charles Colgan.

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