Monday, August 24, 2009

Not so welcome in Virgina

from South Hill to Richmond

The sign on the interstate reads, "Welcome to Virginia" as one heads across the state line, the reality is tangibly different. Virgina, like many states post the despotic reign of King George the II, is grappling with massive and debilitating state budget shortfalls. Various states are dealing with these budgetary crises in a manifest number of ways, one may recall reading in these pages that the state of California was issuing IOUs. Delaware is trying to legalize sports betting. Virginia has a plan of its own, in short, super expensive speeding tickets.

Any speeding ticket in Virginia for where the driver is clocked at over 80 miles per hour is a minimum $412 including fine and court costs. Holy mackerel! One ticket equals $412 is a punishment that stokes the fires of the Clarion Content's libertarian furnace. The fact that the punishment is pecuniary rather than custodial, that is, monetary rather than jail time, makes it uniquely anti-poor. A second speeding ticket over 80 miles per hour in Virginia within three years is a $1000 fine. The same penalties apply at lower speeds if the driver is more than 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. Not only is a lower income person likely to be more effected by a speeding ticket with a huge fine, they are less likely to be able to afford a lawyer to fight it.

Interesting side note, one of the legislative sponsors for the bill state Delegate David B. Albo (R-Springfield), is reportedly a partner in a traffic law firm.

The less than bemusing flip side of the budgetary coin in Virginia has frustrating ramifications for driver's too. Not content with soaking motorists wallets, Virginia has been cutting back on highway amenities, as well. Virginia has closed numerous state operated rest stops. Interstate 85 between the North Carolina border and the capital Richmond features a series of rest stops with sand barrels connected by chains blocking their entrances from the highway. Not such a pretty sight if one is hoping empty the bladder!

Drivers beware, the sign says, "Welcome to Virginia," the evidence says otherwise.

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