If you live in Virginia, odds are good that by now you’ve heard of the new “civil remediation fees” going into effect today. The new law imposes steep penalties on drivers who get caught going more than 20 mph over the speed limit ($1,050), driving under the influence ($2,250), or violating a few other traffic laws. The new penalties are bound to have some unintended consequences, such as this one noted by The Washington Post:
The new fees will go into effect July 1, and defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges expect chaos. Court clerks fear having to deal with angry hordes learning about the fees for the first time at the payment window.
“I think that we will be overwhelmed,” said Nancy L. Lake, clerk of the Fairfax County General District Court, which includes the busiest traffic court in the state. “We feel we’re going to take a lot of flack.”
[. . .]
Traffic court judges fear they will see a huge increase in trials, with defendants unwilling to plead guilty because they know they will face additional fees.
The Post quotes Delegate David Albo, who co-sponsored the legislation, about how much money the new fees will raise for street maintenance. What The Post doesn’t tell you is what Albo does for his day job. From his Stateline.org bio:
Albo’s fulltime job is as a partner in the small Virginia law firm of Albo & Oblon, where he handles mostly traffic cases.
Hmm, a traffic litigator sponsoring a law that will dramatically increase the number of traffic tickets going to court? If I were the skeptical type, I might suspect a conflict of interest here.
And if I were The Post, I might have bothered to report it.
Find more coverage at the AlboMustGo weblog.
Update: Radley’s on it too.