Virginia is for slower drivers

A posted speed limit of 65 mph

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: What do ya expect to pay if you're caught speeding. If you're a motorist in Virginia the fine could be as much as $3,500. A new law on the books this week was put in place to raise about $65 million for road improvements. As you might expect, not everyone's happy about it, as Jeremy Hobson reports.


Jeremy Hobson: Even before this week, Virginia had some of the most expensive traffic tickets in the nation. Among them: up to $2,500 for going 20 miles over the speed limit.

Now, add another mandatory fine of $1,050, and as Richard Diamond puts it:

Richard Diamond: It ranks at the top.

Diamond is the editor of TheNewspaper.com, which monitors transportation issues. He says other states such as New Jersey and Texas have also increased fines, but not as much as Virginia.

And he says studies have shown that higher fines are not an effective way to get people to drive safely.

Diamond: This was about closing a funding gap, raising revenue without calling it a tax.

That's not the way Republican Dave Albo sees it. He's the state delegate who authored the Virginia bill. He says it's not just about money.

Dave Albo: I go by three roadside memorials to get to my office every day. Every single one of 'em were caused by people speeding and losing control of their car.

Even if the new charges don't get people to slow down, Albo says he has a responsibility to raise money for roads.

He originally thought about raising everyone's license fee . . .

Albo: But why is it fair that that person who gets just an occasional ticket, otherwise has a good record, why is it fair that that person has to spend the same amount of money to drive in Virginia as a person who gets a number of tickets or commits a violation which is actually a crime.

Now don't freak out if you're not from Virginia. These new fees will only affect Virginia drivers.

And you'd be hard-pressed to find one who's unaware of this week's law change.

Motorist 1: It's way too much.

Motorist 2: The fines are too high.

Motorist 3: I think that would do most of us in if we got a fine like that.

That's what most people will tell you.

And then there's this guy, Steve Omeara, who is a courier. He drives for a living and has no complaints about the new fines.

Steve Omeara: People drive like nuts around here, really.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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