Virginia: New Form Of Photo Ticketing Proposed

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virginia new form of photo ticketing proposed

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.

House Bill 1295 (Virginia General Assembly, 1/21/2010)

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  • Chuntmd Chuntmd on Feb 03, 2010

    I'm missing something, how does the camera "know" your on official airport use? I can pick from DCA, BWI and IAD with IAD being the farthest at 50 miles.. Both DCA and BWI are serviced by mass transit got to wait till at least 2016 for the Metrorail extension.

    • See 1 previous
    • Ernie Ernie on Feb 03, 2010

      I'm guessing: 1) collect the people that use it 5+ days a week. 2) Cross reference for Liveries and Airport workers There'll probably be not much else since it's easy to just ticket a mess of people and meaculpa for mistakes . . .

  • Bruce from DC Bruce from DC on Feb 03, 2010

    This is kind of a whine, folks. Unlike everyone else who has commented -- apparently -- I was around when this thing was built, which was 1962 when Dulles airport was opened. At that time, the airport was "in the sticks" and the DC suburbs did not extend outside of the capital beltway. The Dulles Access road ran between the capital beltway and the aiport, period. For more than a decade, the airport was hugely under-utilized; and the Dulles Access road was a great place to go and find out just whose car was really fast because there was no one else on the road -- and no police. The road was designed for 65 mph speeds (that was the original speed limit, reduced to 55 in the first "energy crisis" and never subsequently raised) so triple-digit speeds were not a suicidal idea. In fact, as late as 1987, I claimed the unofficial record for getting to the airport from downtown DC (via the access road and US route 66) of 20 minutes, for the 26 mile distance -- and that was in the afternoon, not at 3:00 a.m. This was achieved, in part, by triple digit speeds on the access road, something which was entirely possible -- and reasonably safe to do -- at the time. Given today's level of traffic at any time other than 3:00 a.m., it would not be safe. Of course, since that time, the utilization of Dulles Airport has gone way up, and the airport has been repeatedly expanded. All of this means that the volume of airport traffic on the access road has gone way up. As a not infrequent user of that road to catch evening flights out of town, the last thing I want is a bunch of commuters clogging the road and delaying my trip to the airport. So, I don't have much sympathy for commuters who get nailed for using the Dulles Access road, regardless of how it is accomplished (although the details of how this is going to work elude me). And, "findude" is correct, the Dulles Access road is not part of the public highway system, paid for by highway fuel tax dollars. It was paid for as part of the original construction of the airport and is operated and patrolled by the Washington Area Airport Authority, which also operates Reagan National Airport on the Potomac River across from DC. Eventually, growth in offices and residences followed in the direction of the airport and the parallel toll road was built -- and was, from the beginning, a toll road. That's how it was paid for.

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