A bill in Virginia that would levy hefty fines on the
worst-of-the-worst drivers has passed the state’s House. The effort is among
several being debated before legislators to fund backlogged transportation
projects and ease gridlock
Sponsored by Delegate Thomas D. Rust, R-Fairfax, the bill – HB527 – has
been sent to the Senate Finance Committee for further debate.
The revenue generated – estimated at $180 million a year – would be
used to help support a House transportation initiative approaching $2 billion
over four years, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Under the “abuser fee” approach, Virginia drivers who compile numerous
misdemeanor convictions for moving violations would be hit with fees ranging
from $100 to $750.
Motorists convicted of a serious traffic offense would pay extra fees
in addition to penalties already assessed.
The plan would set the fees, charged annually for three years, at $250
for driving with a suspended or revoked license, $350 for aggressive or
reckless driving and $750 for drunken driving.
Virginia drivers who rack up four or more demerit points on their
driving records would be hit with increased fines of $100 a year. The penalty
would increase by $75 for each additional point, to as much as $700 annually.
A similar effort passed the House a year ago. However, it was killed in
the Senate Finance Committee, where it is likely to face opposition again this
Senate Finance Chairman John Chichester, R-Stafford, said the bill
would stack hefty fines on many drivers and disputes claims that it would
produce a steady flow of revenue for road projects, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Among the alternatives being considered to fund transportation is a
Senate-approved bill that would impose higher fees for registering vehicles – particularly for large trucks, increase taxes on vehicle sales, and increase
taxes on gasoline and diesel sales. It also would refund the payments of fuel
taxes to those who save pump receipts for their personal vehicles.
The package would bring in $4 billion in the next four years to fund
backlogged transportation projects and ease gridlock, The Associated Press reported.
A separate offered by Gov. Tim Kaine would generate $3.7 billion over
four years, through a combination of tax and fee increases.
Lawmakers have until the close of the legislative session March 11 to
reach agreement on transportation funding.