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Virginia: Students to Escape Abuser Fee Ticket Tax
Students and other temporary residents of Virginia may escape the controversial civil remedial fees.

Prince William County courtroom
Students and others living in Virginia for a fixed period may escape paying the so-called civil remedial fees that add taxes of up to $3000 on serious and minor traffic infractions (fee details). Manassas attorney Louis R. Brooks, Jr. succeeded on September 25 in defending Rajesh Cherukuri, an Indian national, against a $2250 "abuser fee." Cherukuri had been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol on July 31, almost a month after the new fees were applied to state residents.

"The civil remedial fees established by this section shall be assessed on any resident of Virginia operating a motor vehicle on the highways of Virginia, including persons to whom Virginia driver's licenses, commercial driver's licenses, or learner's permits have been issued pursuant to this title," Virginia Code Section 46.2-206.1 states.

Although Cherukuri held a valid Virginia driver's license, he is a student residing in the state on a temporary visa. Brooks argued this meant he was not a resident under Virginia law. Consequently, the remedial fee did not apply. Prince William County General District Judge Craig D. Johnston sided with Brooks.

Residency requires "the intention to remain [in a place] for an indefinite period of time," Judge Johnston wrote, as cited in Virginia Lawyers Weekly. "I conclude that the statutory exemption of nonresident students from those persons who are deemed residents for purposes of Title 46.2, including impositions of the civil remedial fee, was a deliberate exemption."

A sentencing hearing on Cherukuri's DUI case has been scheduled for this afternoon.

Article Excerpt:
Virginia Transportation Code Sections Regarding Residency

Virginia Code 46.2-100
"Nonresident" means every person who is not domiciled in the Commonwealth, except: ... ; (ii) a person who becomes engaged in a gainful occupation in the Commonwealth for a period exceeding 60 days shall be a resident for the purposes of this title except for the purposes of Chapter 3 ( 46.2-300 et seq.) of this title; (iii) a person, other than a nonresident student as defined in this section, who has actually resided in the Commonwealth for a period of six months, whether employed or not, or who has registered a motor vehicle, listing an address in the Commonwealth in the application for registration shall be deemed a resident for the purposes of this title, except for the purposes of the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act ( 46.2-341.1 et seq.).

"Nonresident student" means every nonresident person who is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited institution of learning in the Commonwealth and who is not gainfully employed.

Virginia Code 46.2-341.4:
"Domicile" means a person's true, fixed and permanent home and principal residence, to which he intends to return whenever he is absent.
Source: Definition of residence key to avoiding fees (Virginia Lawyers Weekly, 9/28/2007)

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