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Ready To Return

Del. Dave Albo prepares for another term in Richmond.

It has been a busy few months for Del. Dave Albo (R-42), as the focus of his 2007 transportation plan shifted to abuser fees.

"I just sent a letter to my constituents about the abuser fee program, and 98 percent of the people who responded said they wouldn't mind the program if out-of-state drivers were included," said Albo, who is running unopposed Tuesday, Nov. 6 for his seat in the House of Delegates.

Introduced as a part of the transportation plan adopted by the Virginia General assembly and signed into law by Gov. Tim Kaine (D) earlier this year, the abuser fees gained notoriety over the summer. If someone with Virginia license plates is stopped for any traffic offense, they face higher penalties than someone from outside the Commonwealth. In a handful of court cases across Virginia, the abuser fees have been declared unconstitutional.

Albo said he would like to change the law slightly during his next two-year term in the House of Delegates, if he can gain support from his fellow lawmakers. He would also like to restructure the way fines are levied, using a sliding scale to give harsher penalties for those who are, for example, driving at 50 miles per hour above the speed limit than those who are only driving 10 miles per hour faster.

"The mistake I made was to punish reckless drivers all the same, whether it was just barely over the speed limit or 100 mile per hour over," he said. "What I'm thinking of now is more along the lines of, if you're going 26 miles over the limit, you pay $250, but if you're 40 miles per hour over the limit, you would pay $400, something like that."

THE POSITIVE SIDE of the transportation plan is that Virginia will begin to see revenues from those taxes and fines starting in January, and Albo said that means it's time to build roads.

"I'm running for office again because I wanted to be part of that process and get the problem solved," Albo said.

Other priorities for Albo include taking a closer look at mental health services available in Virginia and the continuity of coverage and care as a child grows up and leaves his or her home community.

"Everyone knew that Cho was a threat, but no one knew it was imminent that he'd kill 32 people," he said, referring to Seung-Hui Cho, the Centreville resident responsible for the April shootings at Virginia Tech. Cho had a history of mental illness but was not required to receive help at college.

"Right now, there are no court orders to make sure people with severe mental health problems keep getting treatment, and I think we all agree we need to change that," Albo said.

Turning to one of the hot-button issues of this election, Albo said he's hoping to continue working with current State Sen. Jay O'Brien (R-39) on implementing stricter laws for illegal immigrants.

"Jay and I saw this was a problem in 2002 and we wanted to organized a bill to deny illegal aliens access to drivers licenses," Albo said. "Next year, I think we're going to work on a bill to deny non-emergency taxpayer services to them, to the extent federal law allows."

That would mean people in the country illegally could be denied medical care, financial aid to college, or other services provided from tax revenues, Albo explained.

Additionally, he would like to see laws in place that would deport illegal immigrants arrested for felonies.

"If they're arrested for something and have to serve less than a year, they do their time in county jail and then are let back into their communities," he said. "In Fairfax County alone, there were over 4,500 illegal aliens who had been arrested for a crime and went back to their communities."

Ideally, Albo said he'd like to see harsher penalties for illegal immigrants who are charged with driving while intoxicated.

"This is the next critical step in getting illegal aliens out of Virginia," he said. "We're not profiling, we're not going to neighbors' houses. The only way a person is investigated is if they commit an arrestable traffic offense."

As a member of the Courts of Justice Committee in the House of Delegates, Albo said he is happy with his appointments and hopes to continue working for his constituents.

He is also not surprised to be running unopposed.

"I thought the Democrats would try to put someone against me because it's a good year for them to run, but when push came to shove, I think they realized they couldn't do it two years ago," he said. "Passing the largest transportation bill in Virginia history probably didn't hurt either."