A new law that lets drivers who are convicted of speeding or a related misdemeanor to get their vehicles back has raised questions among the legal community about how it would work in practice.
Lawyers and lawmakers are trying to determine whether it would be fair to impose fines on drivers who have already paid for the tickets, and how to balance the need for a deterrent against the need to encourage people to pay up and not leave their cars.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down a Texas law that required people convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to pay for a portion of their fines through a court-ordered surcharge.
The justices ruled that the law violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and was discriminatory because it made people with such convictions pay the full cost of their tickets, even if they didn’t drive.
A bill to restore that surcharge, introduced by U.C.L.A. Law School professor Michael Fazio, would allow people who are found guilty of speeding to get a refund of any fines they pay.
The surcharge would be imposed on the full amount of their ticket, including the cost of the car.
The law would also apply to those who have been charged under the state’s new distracted driving law, which requires all drivers to wear a red and blue light and turn on their headlights before crossing a red light, even when the lights are on.
Under Fazi’s proposal, if a driver is found guilty for a ticket under both distracted driving laws, the surcharge on the ticket would be paid for.
Fazio’s bill is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, where Fazo is a senior fellow.
His bill has been in the works for years, and he’s been speaking with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
A similar bill passed the House last year, but died in committee.
A similar bill died in the Senate this year.
Frazio said he was trying to strike a balance between protecting public safety and encouraging people to drive.
He said that the current surcharge could discourage people from doing so, which could make the problem worse.
“The public health impact is pretty significant,” Fazia said.
“If we were to impose a surcharge of $10, the number of times you would have to pay a surpice would be about 2,000,” he said.
The problem is, you’re paying a $1.75 surcharge for the second time for driving in the same lane, so the likelihood is you’ll pay more, even though you’re actually speeding less.
The surcharge was introduced by state Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who is a co-sponsor of the Fazianos bill.
“This bill does the right thing, but it does not create a new class of drivers,” Ellison said in a statement.
“A surcharge will not make a driver a less safe driver, and it will not incentivize them to obey traffic laws.”
Lawmakers have been trying to figure out how to address the issue, and whether they can afford to spend billions of dollars on a new surcharge system that will not address the problem of distracted driving.
The bill also faces resistance from the National Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which has said it doesn’t support a surtax on people who have paid for their tickets.
“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that a surreptitious surcharge helps anyone avoid an accident or deter someone from driving,” the NATSHTO said in its statement.