A pair of lawmakers want to bring a unique form of photo enforcement to Virginia. The state Senate yesterday voted 40-0 to expedite consideration of legislation introduced by state Delegate Tom Rust (R-Herndon) and Senator Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) allowing the use of automated ticketing machines to fine people up to $600 for driving on a road without a state-approved purpose. The cameras are similar to those that photograph vehicles accused of using a toll road without paying. In this case, however, the cameras would be deployed on a free, fourteen-mile road adjacent to a toll route designed solely for the use of people driving to Dulles international Airport. The owners of cars infringing the proposed law would be mailed a “bill” in the mail.
“In the event a violation of the authority regulation is identified via the photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system, the operator of the Dulles Access Highway shall send a bill in the amount of the fine plus the applicable administrative fee to a registered owner of a vehicle as part of the enforcement process prior to seeking further remedies under this section,” House Bill 1295 states.
Under existing statutes, drivers who have “airport business” may use the access highway. Such purposes are not clearly defined, but the airport grounds include a hotel and gas station that many frequently use in order to escape the increasing cost of the adjacent toll route. Because a machine is unable to determine purpose, Rust and Herring’s bill would automatically convict any vehicle owner who receives a bill in the mail.
“Proof of a violation of the authority regulation governing the use of the Dulles Access Highway shall be evidenced by information obtained from the photo-monitoring system,” HB1295 states. “It shall be prima facie evidence that the vehicle described in the summons issued pursuant to this section was operated in violation of the authority regulation governing use of the Dulles Access Highway.”
The law admits no defense to the charge made against the vehicle owner other than proving the car had been stolen or supplying the name of someone else who may have been driving.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority would use a private vendor to collect the fines which start at $50 for a first violation, rise to $200 for a second, $350 for a third and $600 for a fourth. It is quite possible to obtain four violations, worth a total of $1200, by unknowingly using the road before receiving any notice from the airport authority.
Rust’s bill was assigned to a House Transportation subcommittee on Sunday. A copy of his legislation is available in a 155k PDF file at the source link below.