For those of you who are wondering, the Washington Post reports that the system of fines that resulted in the $1,000 ticket was apparently established several years ago in order to address the large number of people who were driving in the HOV lanes despite only having one person in the vehicle.
The steep increase in fines that brought the bite in Northern Virginia to $1,000 for a fourth offense in five years was enacted several years ago because of the severity of the problem. "The law had no teeth," said a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.Given the outrage over the abusive driver fees that Dave Albo proposed, my initial reaction was that there could be some public opposition to the step cost of these tickets. However, there are some major differences between the abusive driver fees and the tickets for HOV violations. First of all, these aren't fees that are impossed for several years which means that people won't be punished multiple times for one offense. Secondly, since these are tickets instead of fees, drivers who live outside of Virginia will have to pay the costs even they are caught. And finally, these are fines that greatly increase for multiple violations and arguably don't overly punish people for a one time occurrence like the abusive driver fees did.
Under the new regulations, a first offense is $125, a second is $250 and a third, $500.
With all that being said, the fact that so many people are tempted to violate the law in order to shorten their commute even with the large fines serves as yet another example of how bad the traffic can be here in Northern Virginia. As Bob McDonnell has repeatedly promised Virginians that he'll lead in a bipartisan manner after he's sworn in, I sincerely hope he keeps that promise as our elected officials work to improve our traffic situation. Virginia's commuters are clearly suggesting this needs to be done in a timely and efficient manner