$3,000 for a traffic ticket!

The politicos in the state of Virginia have completely lost their minds.

According to USA Today:

In an effort to raise money for road projects, [Virginia] will start hitting residents who commit serious traffic offenses with huge civil penalties.

The new civil charges will range from $750 to $3,000 and will be added to existing fines and court costs. The civil penalty for going 20 mph over the speed limit will be $1,050, plus $61 in court costs and a fine that is typically about $200.

Virginia’s new traffic penalties are expected to raise $65 million a year and are part of an effort to improve the state’s roads without raising taxes.

A first-time drunken driver will face a $2,250 civil penalty, plus fines and court costs that typically run about $500 or more. Driving without a license? That’s a mandatory $900 civil penalty, in addition to the ordinary $100 for a fine and court costs.

I really feel sorry for the people who still live in Virginia. Only a few of my friends still do – most of them have also moved away. Some, like me, have moved far away, others just over to Maryland or into eastern West Virginia. I left there in 2002. Virginia has been going down the toilet steadily since the turn of the century – I saw it then and I’m not surprised it’s continuing now. I expect this to create some serious activism against a state legislature that is completely out of control. Those types of fines are certainly not by the people and anything but for the people. More people will be showing up in court to fight the tickets, and that’s going to overwhelm a court system that’s already bursting at the seams. When I would go to court to fight my tickets, both Fairfax and Loudoun county courts were overflowing with people. And this was when tickets were just $300. Now that they cost ten times that much you’re going to see some seriously pissed off people showing up for court who would have otherwise paid the ticket and let the cycle continue. And I bet more of them are going to be bringing attorneys now, too.

Driving enthusiasts have called traffic tickets “fundraising” for some time, but this is the first time I’ve seen officials be so clearly out in the open about it. They’re not even making an effort to obfuscate this in cleverly manipulated safety statistics that are getting increasingly difficult for anyone to believe. Maybe this will finally wake people up to the fact that traffic tickets aren’t about safety at all, they’re about money. It’s extortion from the public, a job usually reserved for organized crime, but legalized in the name of a budget deficit. A budget deficit that was caused by overspending politicians in the first place!

As if Virginia isn’t a crazy enough place to live already.

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