From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Henrico judge to rule on driving-offense fees:
A Henrico judge said he will issue an opinion next Thursday on whether the state’s new fee system for traffic infractions should be found unconstitutional.
In an unusual proceeding that lasted almost an hour, Henrico General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III said he will decide in a written opinion whether a 23-year-old Henrico man facing his fifth offense for driving without a license should be subject to some $700 in fees in addition to court costs and fines.
Anthony O. Price pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge today and Yeatts found him guilty. But Yeatts said he wants more time to mull over arguments in the case about the fees.
The fee structure, which went into effect July 1, is expected to pump some $60 million into state highway funds. But the fees do not apply to out-of-state drivers. Price’s lawyers argue that the law is in violation of equal-protection guarantees in the Constitution.
“There’s no reason why out-of-state drivers should be any less subject to the fees than Virginia drivers,” said Esther Windmueller, one of Price’s lawyers.
Windmueller said multiple opinions are likely on the issue from courts across Virginia as the fees begin to come into play in court proceedings.
Resolution will have to come from the General Assembly or state Supreme Court, meaning that thousands off drivers likely will have to pay the fees before it is clear they are legal.