The Virginia Senate took the first steps yesterday to follow the House of Delegates and end the abusive driver fees, but they seem to be tied up on the question of what to do about the people who are already paying under the law:
RICHMOND, Jan. 25 — The Virginia Senate took a major step Friday toward eliminating the unpopular abusive-driving fees but couldn’t agree on what to do about the tens of thousands of motorists who might have already started paying them.
Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) introduced an amendment that would have established a way for people to get out of paying the fees that the courts have already assessed.
Under Stolle’s proposal, a person convicted of a crime that triggers a fee would have been able to go back to court to ask a judge to revoke it so the violator wouldn’t have to make the second and third year of the payments. The court could also issue refunds for first-year payments. But the judge could grant the request only if the defendant was found guilty of an offense that didn’t “endanger life, limb or property.”
“It would be terrible policy for us to issue a refund for someone who was driving drunk and took the life of another,” Stolle said.
He said that “if this amendment is rejected, the individuals, regardless of how minor the offense was, will continue to pay the fee until the end of the three years.”
Granting refunds, in all cases regardless of the nature of the offense, would seem to be the only fair way to handle this issue. After all, don’t we all agree that the abusive driver fees were an incredibly bad idea ?