Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Virginia police appointed to position of tax collector

Virginia's steep driving violation fees go into effect today. The new penalties will reach as high as $1050 for driving 20 mph over the speed limit. Other fines include $1050 for include using the wrong turn signal, driving too fast for conditions, and having below-standard tires, among many more.

The Washington Post reports:

The licenses of tens of thousands of motorists in New Jersey and Michigan have been suspended because they cannot afford the fees, and little evidence has emerged that such fines improve highway safety, according to state officials and studies.

Officials in Michigan and New Jersey say Virginians should brace for problems, including clogged courts and the prospect of thousands of residents having to choose between keeping their licenses and paying their bills.

Of course we should recognize these fees for what they really are--a $65 million per year tax increase.

What concerns me the most about these new fines is the greater potential they create for police abuse and corruption, now that officers have an even greater power advantage over the citizens by having the authority to slap them with exorbitant fines for relatively minor offenses.

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