Virginia governor signs repeal of ‘bad-driver’ fees

| 4/1/2008

A new Virginia law rids the state of the highly unpopular abusive driver fees. The repeal took effect immediately.

Gov. Tim Kaine has signed two bills – SB1 and HB1243 – rescinding the so-called bad driver fees applied solely to Virginia drivers. All fees collected will be refunded and payments still due also will be waived.

The driver’s licenses of the 100 or so motorists who lost their driving privileges for failure to pay the fees will be eligible for reinstatement free of charge. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will notify those individuals.

Virginia lawmakers have spent a lot of time this year revisiting one of the most contentious issues in their state in recent years. The problem stems from fees and fines included in the massive $3 billion transportation bill approved a year ago.

The transportation package was several years in the making when the governor signed it into law. Since the law took effect July 1, public opposition about the fines for certain driving violations has led many lawmakers – including the governor – to call for change.

House and Senate lawmakers also were spurred to act following several court challenges across the state.

The fees for violations made by “bad drivers” were payable in three annual payments ranging from $250 to $1,000. They were expected to generate $65 million a year for transportation. However, about $4 million had been collected since last summer.

“After six months of implementation, it was clear that the fees did not improve the safety of Virginia highways,” Kaine said in a written statement.

Another bill signed into law would void a separate provision in the 2007 transportation funding legislation. The new law, previously HB1578, authorizes refunds to be issued for seven taxes and fees collected by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

The refund legislation follows a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional to delegate power to regional authorities to impose taxes and fees. Refunds will be issued for the 1 percent initial vehicle registration fee and the $10 regional registration fee. People also will be reimbursed for taxes paid that include the 2 percent vehicle rental tax and the 5 percent sales tax on motor vehicle repair.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor