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Virginia House Revives Abusive Driver Fees
Virginia House of Delegates votes to recreate abusive driver fee program as mandatory minimum fines.

Dave Albo
The Virginia House of Delegates voted 82-17 yesterday to save the controversial abusive driver fee concept that sparked a voter revolt last year. State Delegate David B. Albo (R-Springfield) authored the new legislation that imposes what are now called "mandatory minimum fines" of up to $3000 on a list of offenses significantly scaled back from the lawmaker's original speeding ticket tax.

The new fines would apply to all drivers -- not just Virginia residents -- convicted of misdemeanor and felony offenses that already carry possible fines of up to $2500 if a judge believe the particular details of the case demonstrate a need for the top penalty. House Bill 161 removes the element of judicial discretion so that every conviction, regardless of circumstances, carries the maximum fine. For example, a Waynesboro handyman who was convicted last year of riding a lawn mower while drunk would be forced to pay a $2250 mandatory fine under the new proposal -- equal to the abuser fee that had been imposed in August. The new mandatory fines as applied to driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) also treats cases where the estimated blood alcohol content is barely .08 the same as cases where it measures more than .20.

Albo's bill also imposes a mandatory fine of $2500 on motorists who fail to pull over if a motorist fails to notice the flashing lights of a police and an officer claims he was "impeded." Virginia is increasingly turning to the use of unusual unmarked police vehicles in an attempt to boost the number of speeding tickets issued to unsuspecting motorists. Criminals have taken advantage of this to impersonate police officers to commit robberies and assault.

When not serving in the legislature, Albo is heads the traffic law section for the Albo and Oblon law firm which defends drunk drivers against these fines. It is unclear whether state Senators, who passed a bill that would cleanly and completely repeal the fees, would support the creation of mandatory minimum abuser fines.

Article Excerpt:
New "mandatory minimum fine" abuser fines

Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter: $2500
Maiming another while DUI: $2500
DUI first and second: $2250
DUI third or more: $2500
DUI Habitual Offender: $3000
Racing causing injury: $2500
Racing causing death: $3000
Reckless causing death: $2500
Failure to stop at an accident: $2500
Not stopping for a marked or unmarked police car: $2500
Source: PDF File House Bill 161 (Virginia General Assembly, 2/7/2008)

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