Pay by the mile per hour

Reporters are catching on to the reason governments want to tax cars by the mile. They track miles by planting a spy in your car. The spy also knows when you’ve been speeding.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog. You owe $10 for a week of driving and $10,000 for a week of speeding. A KIRO reporter figured her two weeks of recorded speeding violations would have cost $20,240 in tickets if the pilot system had been live.

This could be an even better revenue source than ticket cameras. A regular speed camera can be defeated by slowing down for a moment. With Washington’s GPS tracker that earns you two tickets, because there are two separate instances of speeding separated by a slow period. You could get another ticket each time you cross a city line. Years ago I read an article about a pair of police officers who zapped cars right as they passed city limits. One traffic stop, two tickets. One for speeding in the county and one for speeding in the city.

You might object that the tracking device doesn’t prove who was driving. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. It shows you were going from your home to your work. It shows a consistent driving style every time. Maybe your state has a law saying the owner is presumed to be driving. At least there’s reason to suspect you, and that’s enough to drag you into court.

Some drivers think it’s cute to have a license plate reading NO PLATE (or NO TAG, LEXUS, XXXXXXX, and so on). Then the misdirected tickets start piling up in the mailbox. Unless you’re bored or retired dealing with those tickets is going to eat up your life. You have the right to a hearing. You don’t have the right to your time back.

Once you get a ticket you have already lost. In many courts you pay whether you win or lose. If you don’t hire a lawyer you have to spend hours preparing, waiting in court, and arguing your case.

In some states police can write you a ticket a year after the offense. Come April when state officials are counting tax receipts they can decide how much more money they need. Hundreds of tickets, all with separate court dates to make it harder for you to do anything except pay.

Now do you see why states are signing on to an unnecessarily complicated way of collecting revenue? Now do you see why the federal government is paying states to try out pay-by-the-mile programs? All that location information will be shared just like your biometric information in the DMV computer.

Truck drivers are a few years down the road. The federal DOT won a fight to install surveillance devices in trucks. Regulators almost won the fight to mandate speed limiters in trucks. The next Democrat in the White House will probably finish that job.

And then they’ll come for you.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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One Response to “Pay by the mile per hour”

  1. James C. Walker says:

    Another strong argument against pay-by-the-mile schemes instead via fuel taxes is the cost of the systems. The equipment and tracking systems to record the miles driven and collect the taxes are likely to cost 10% to 20% of the total revenues collected. Fuel taxes are collected at a cost of about 1%.