$1,050 for reckless driving

On July 1, a new set of Virginia driving laws took effect, including Libertarian-rankling cell phone-usage restrictions and booster seat requirements. But one of the new laws is sure to infuriate and possibly bankrupt thousands of Virginia drivers, starting immediately.

Taking its cue from similar measures in New Jersey, Virginia has enacted a set of staggering penalties for felony and misdemeanor moving violations. Any violation other than simple speeding will now carry a three-year, annually paid fine in addition to whatever fine is decided upon in traffic court. The three-year total of the fines ranges from $750 for driving with a suspended license to $3,000 for a felony driving conviction like eluding police or a third DUI (a first DUI carries a fine of $2,250). Say you fail to slow down from 68 mph during that all-too-brief 45 mph stretch of 29S through Lovingston? That’ll be $1,050 for reckless driving.

The new measures were proposed by a pair of Northern Virginia delegates seeking money for their region’s roadwork projects (scheduled for completion approximately four years after hell freezes over). David Albo and Thomas Rust, both Republicans from Fairfax, didn’t want to push for a tax hike, so instead they proposed a set of fines that threaten to send those who can afford them least into financial ruin. But at least the tourists will be O.K.: The laws will not affect nonresidents driving in Virginia.

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