The ‘driver responsibility’ tax


I have recently discovered that the Virginia house of delegates, in this case led by David Albo, has passed a new tax. This tax, known as the driver responsibility tax, will be levied only on Virginia residents who break specific traffic laws.  This particular tax is so spectacularly unjust, inefficient, foolish and corrupt that I have been motivated to set pen to paper in an effort to encourage fellow residents to protest.
From July 1st, Virginia will levy a tax ranging from $1,050 to over $3,000 on the utterly arbitrary basis that they committed one of a very narrow subset of misdemeanors, including driving 15 mph over the speed limit.  This tax is in addition to the existing penalties.
This is not a just punishment that fits the crime.  How can it be just to levy a fine of two weeks’ wages for breaking the speed limit by 15 mph? 
As Mr. Albo has pointed out, it will no doubt reduce the incidence of speeding.  But if that’s his sole criterion for evaluating the justness of a law, why not apply the death penalty?  I’m sure that too would reduce the incidence of speeding.  No, as he has admitted, the purpose of this tax is to raise revenue.  Instead of doing so in a fair manner, by spreading the burden across all citizens equally, he has chosen to single out a tiny group, who in many cases have committed the most trivial of offenses and force them to carry the entire burden.
Traffic tickets are an extremely expensive and inefficient way to collect taxes as compared to changing the rate of income or property tax which, while unwelcome to many citizens, would at least have the benefits of being fairer and more efficient.
The effect of this tax will likely be threefold. 
Firstly, many people will be forced to suffer extreme hardship as the result of this tax.  This onerous burden, ranging from 42% to well over 100% of the median citizen’s monthly income is being applied at precisly the same time as mortgage foreclosure rates are rising by 100% annually for the second year in a row.  Secondly, in many cases, people will be unable to pay and will eventually end up losing their license, serving jail time and losing their jobs and opportunity for future employment.  All for a speeding ticket.  Oh how un-American is this law, and how far we have descended from “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”!  Thirdly, a vastly greater number of routine traffic cases will now be contested, adding immeasurably to the congestion in the court system and to the costs and inefficiency of this tax.
The only obvious beneficiary of this tax will be lawyers who specialize in traffic offenses.  Heavens above!  Apparently delegate David Albo is a traffic lawyer.
I urge all citizens to contact David Albo at [email protected], the Virginian Republican committee at [email protected], and the governor at (804) 786-2211 and let them know that this un-American tax must be rescinded forthwith.

David Ashby