By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
Virginia is for lovers, or so the state slogan has declared since 1969. Starting Sunday, Virginia also will be the home of the $3,000 traffic ticket.
In an effort to raise money for road projects, the state will start hitting residents who commit serious traffic offenses with huge civil penalties.
The new civil charges will range from $750 to $3,000 and be added to existing fines and court costs. The civil penalty for going 20 mph over the speed limit will be $1,050, plus $61 in court costs and a fine that is typically about $200.
Virginia's traffic law is one of several thousand new state laws that take effect Sunday. Jan. 1 and July 1 are the most popular dates for state laws to become official.
July 1 is especially popular for new taxes and fees because it's the start of the budget year in 46 states. For example, Arkansas will cut its sales tax on groceries from 6% to 3% Sunday.
Virginia's new traffic penalties are expected to raise $65 million a year and are part of an effort to improve the state's roads without raising taxes.
A first-time drunken driver will face a $2,250 civil penalty, plus fines and court costs that typically run about $500 or more. Driving without a license? That's a mandatory $900 civil penalty, in addition to the ordinary $100 for a fine and court costs.