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Henrico Circuit judge upholds civil remedial fees

In Commonwealth v. Price, an opinion released this afternoon, Henrico County Circuit Judge L.A. Harris Jr. upheld the civil remedial fees for “dangerous drivers” under Virginia Code § 46.2-206.1.

Defendant Anthony O. Price argued the fees are unconstitutional, in that they are levied against Virginia drivers, but not against drivers from other states traveling through Virginia and charged with the same offenses.

Earlier, General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III convicted Price on a fifth offense of driving on a suspended license but refused to impose the extra $750 in civil fees because the judge said the statute violated equal protection principles.

But Harris found the statute bears a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative purpose

“Clearly, Virginia residents have more of an obligation to finance their own roads, than do non-residents driving through on Virginia’s highways,” Harris wrote in his Aug. 13 opinion.

Harris also said the legislature may have rationally decided to exclude non-residents in this civil remediation fee scheme because “the costs of collecting on a judgment outweighs any benefits with respect to out-of-state motorists.”

The Henrico judge concluded Price had not met his burden to negate “every conceivable basis” to support the legislative classification, and the statute must stand.

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