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Mich. Judge’s Warnings Unheeded

Posted Jul 24, 2007 11:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Michigan judge says he tried to warn Virginia lawmakers about the dangers of high fines for motorist misdeeds, to no avail.

Judge William Buhl of Van Buren County told the Washington Post he e-mailed all 140 legislators in Virginia opining that a similar Michigan program begun in 2003 was a failure.

Virginia lawmakers nonetheless voted in February to fine motorists as much as $3,000 for crimes such as reckless and drunken driving. Those who don’t pay have their licenses suspended.

Similar programs in New Jersey and Michigan have caused tens of thousands of motorists to lose their licenses while doing little to improve safety, the Post says. Some Michigan judges are reducing charges in driving cases so big fees don’t have to be imposed.

"I think it is a very destructive piece of legislation that is designed primarily for revenue purposes and is disguised as a highway safety measure," Buhl told the Post. "In my opinion, it increases the dangers on the highways because it creates an enormous, growing pool of unlicensed motorists."

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