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Arlington Judge Declares Abuser Fees Unconstitutional

by @ 9:03 am on September 27, 2007. Filed under Virginia, Virginia Abuser Fees, Virginia Politics

An Arlington General District Court Judge has declared Virginia’s abuser fees unconstitutional:

An Arlington County General District Court judge has ruled that Virginia’s abusive-driver fees are unconstitutional, saying they violate guarantees of equal protection because they apply only to state residents.

Judge Dorothy H. Clarke ruled Tuesday in the case of Oscar Reyes Hernandez, who was charged with driving without a license in Arlington on July 5. Under the law, which has triggered widespread complaints, Hernandez would face a civil fee of $300 per year for three years in addition to any criminal fines.

Clarke’s ruling is thought to be the first decision of its kind in Northern Virginia. It is not binding outside Arlington or for other District Court judges in the county, and it could be overturned by a higher court.

Deputy State Solicitor General Stephen R. McCullough said the attorney general’s office will appeal the case to Arlington Circuit Court.

“We respectfully disagree and maintain [the fees] are constitutional,” McCullough said.

Four District Court judges in Virginia, including Clarke, have ruled that the fees are unconstitutional. Two of those rulings, in Henrico and Hanover counties, have been reversed by circuit court judges. A case in Richmond is pending.

Another nail in the coffin, at least for the time being.

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