New Driving Fines May Help Pay State Budget Deficit

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)–The biggest concern in Maryland continues to be the budget, but some lawmakers want to put the brakes on a plan to make bad drivers pay extra.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains.

Mike Slayton and Cindy Randes paid to renew their tags Friday only to learn from Eyewitness News they may be making up for the state’s budget deficit from behind the wheels of their cars with new driving fines of a $100 a point every year for three years.

“I think that’s a crap of you know what, but I can’t really say that word. I don’t know that idea at all, at all,” said Slayton.

Caught speeding more than once in two years? That’s 5 points times $100 a point, $500 a year for three years…$1500.

“That’s a big fine for people to pay,” Randes said.

Even bigger offenses mean even bigger annual payments to the state. Fail to pay, and you lose your license.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee thinks it’s too much.

“You get a driving suspended case and the judge might fine you $250, might send you to jail. But when you get out, you owe him another $700 for three years. That’s $2,100,” said Joe Vallario, House Judiciary Committee chairman.

“People are having a hard enough time making ends meet now without somebody tacking on something else,” Randes said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Governor Martin O’Malley has said he won’t raise taxes, but even he has argued that it’s hard to see the difference between a tax and an additional fee.

“So, I guess technically it’s an exception,” O’Malley said.

Maybe the question is: When is a fee not a tax?

When you’re the guy proposing it.

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