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8/13/2007
Virginia Circuit Court Defends Speeding Ticket Tax
A Henrico County, Virginia Circuit Court judge upholds the constitutionality of the speeding ticket tax.

Judge LA Harris
Henrico County, Virginia Circuit Court Judge L.A. Harris, Jr. today defended the state's "civil remedial fees" that add a $1050 mandatory tax, on top of an existing $2500 maximum penalty, for speeding offenses of 15 MPH over the limit in a 65 zone (fee details). Harris overturned the August 2 ruling of a general district court judge (view ruling) in the same county that found the fees violated the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions.

Judge Harris focused on the inability of Virginia to collect fees from out-of-state motorists and the fact that dangerous drivers are more likely to be Virginians as sufficient reasons to impose a different punishments on residents and non-residents convicted of the same offense.

"Possibly, the legislature in contemplating Virginia Code Section 46.2-206.1, rationally decided to exclude non-residents in this civil remediation fee legislation because the costs of collecting on a judgment outweighs any benefits with respect to out-of-state motorists," Judge Harris wrote. "...It logically follows that Virginians make up a greater percentage of dangerous drivers than do non-residents since Virginians make up the greater percentage of drivers on Virginia's highways."

"The court finds that there is a conceivable rational basis for this legislation's classifications and holds Virginia Code Section 46.2-206.1 constitutional," Judge Harris concluded.

Judge Harris remanded the case to the general district court which will be forced to collect the fees once again. The decision does not affect the city of Richmond where another lower court judge also ruled the fees unconstitutional.



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