The first legal challenge of Virginia’s Civil Remedial Fees (Abusive Driver Fees) in Northern Virginia has been filed on behalf of Charles Mason, a U.S. Navy Veteran who was recently ticketed en route to his Navy Reserve drill duty. According to a Washington Post report, Mason, who has an excellent driving record, was in uniform when he was ticketed by a Virginia state trooper with no radar gun on Interstate 395 at 7:25 am. Mason maintains that he was not speeding, and that in fact, other cars were passing him. He was cited for driving 75 mph in a 55 mph zone, an offense that could cost him $1,050. Judges in Richmond and Henrico County have already declared the fees unconstitutional, because they apply only to Virginia residents. Those rulings apply only to their respective jurisdictions, however. Mason’s attorney is also arguing that the fees are unconstitutional. His case is scheduled to be heard in Arlington General District Court on Monday, August 13th, 2007.
The remedial fees, which range from $750 to $3,000 and took effect on July 1, 2007, were passed with bipartisan support, but were designed by Republicans to collect money from voters without raising taxes — a move some feared could jeopardize their re-election. Since that time the fees have sparked a public outrage, and anxious lawmakers have asked Governor Tim Kaine for permission to re-convene the legislature so that the fees can be eliminated before voters take to the polls. Kaine has said the matter will have to wait until January.
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