Bad driver surcharge sought in Virginia

| 11/24/2004

Northern Virginia lawmakers are touting a plan to get “bad drivers” to help pay for building new roads that could ease congestion in the state.

Bill supporters say the state could raise $140 million a year for roads, bridges, tunnels and transit by creating additional fines for repeat speeders and motorists driving on suspended licenses or those involved in hit-and-run accidents.

The proposal is modeled after a similar system in New Jersey, which imposes surcharges on motorists who accumulate three speeding tickets or other infractions over three years. The program has raised an estimated $300 million over the past two years, The Washington Post reported.

Florida and Maryland failed to enact similar measures this past year.

Republican Delegates Thomas D. Rust and David B. Albo, both of Fairfax, said their plan would allow the state to add millions to its transportation trust fund or help pay off bonds for roads or rail.

Under the proposal, motorists convicted of a serious traffic offense would pay extra fees in addition to the criminal fines imposed by a court.

The plan sets the fees, charged annually for three years, at $200 for driving with a suspended license, $250 for reckless driving and $300 for driving while intoxicated.

Drivers who have six points deducted from their licenses for other types of traffic violations would pay $100 per year, plus an additional $50 for every point beyond six.

Albo and Rust estimate that the state must generate $500 million in new revenue annually to address congestion and other transportation needs, The Associated Press reported. They said the Assembly is unlikely to raise the state’s fuel taxes next year.

The lawmakers will introduce their legislation during the session that begins in January.