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8/24/2007
Virginia Abuser Fee Proponent AAA Flip Flops
AAA, after taking credit for helping create the Virginia Speeding Ticket Tax, now acknowledges it is unpopular.

AAA Mid-Atlantic
The American Automobile Association, better known as AAA, yesterday issued a statement distancing the itself from Virginia's speeding ticket tax which the organization had helped to create. On As recently as June 28, AAA lavishly praised the fees, embracing both the fact that they applied only to Virginians and applied to offenses treated in other states as simple speeding violations.

"The new tougher traffic penalties -- that impose, in some cases a $1050 civil fee on reckless drivers going 20 mph over the speed limit... which only apply to licensed drivers in Virginia, are designed to save lives and discourage lawlessness and recklessness on highways in the state," AAA Mid-Atlantic's government affairs chief Lon Anderson said in the June statement.

Now that public outrage has grown, AAA is acknowledging that the law it worked hard to enact is contrary to the wishes of its customers.

"While the abusive driver fees were designed to help fund road maintenance in the Commonwealth and were intended to sever as a deterrent to dangerous driving behaviors, they have clearly been met with disapproval by many," the AAA statement said.

AAA is now putting its weight now behind moves to expand the fees.

"Whether it is [yesterday's] announced Republican proposed fixes, those proposed by other lawmakers, or a compromise plan when the General Assembly convenes in January, there is clearly a strong message being sent by many lawmakers that the vociferous cries of Virginia motorists are being heard. That is good news," AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs Manager Martha Meade said.

One explanation for the disconnect between the views of AAA and its customers is that AAA is one of the nation's largest providers of automobile insurers. That means for each traffic citation issued to Virginia members, AAA can raise that driver's annual premium by anywhere from $50 to $1000 or more. The civil remedial fee law for its part provides a financial imperative for police to issue hefty citations in order to raise revenue.

"Raising money for transportation funding is never easy and never popular, but is must be done," Meade said yesterday.



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