The David Albo Employment Act

Virgnia (where I live) just passed a tough new transportation bill. The bill funds a 41 percent increase in state transportation spending by dramatically raising fines for many traffic offenses (scathing Washington Times editorial here). The indispensable website TheNewspaper.com gives the dirty details:

Driving as little as 15 MPH over the limit on an interstate highway now brings six license demerit points, a fine of up to $2500, up to one year in jail, and a new mandatory $1050 tax. The law also imposes an additional annual fee of up to $100 if a prior conviction leaves the motorist with a balance of eight demerit points, plus $75 for each additional point (up to $700 a year). The conviction in this example remains on the record for five years.

Other six-point convictions include "failing to give a proper signal," "passing a school bus" or "driving with an obstructed view." The same $1050 assessment applies, but the conviction remains on the record for eleven years.

The self-described "chief architect" for this bill is Delegate David Albo. Albo boasts on his website that he's worked for 20 months to bring this bill into law. What his website doesn't mention is that when Albo isn't legislating tough new laws aimed at Virginia's motorists, he's representing those same motorists in court.

That's right. Albo's a lawyer. And not just any lawyer. The firm that bears his name specializes in traffic law, particularly in representing people charged with DWI and reckless driving. And yes, that's the firm's actual URL: virginiadui.com.

In April of last year, I found a number of pieces of legislation Albo-the-delegate has sponsored during his time in Richmond that would almost certainly result in more clients for Albo-the-traffic-lawyer. Forgive the indulgence of quoting myself, but...

In fact, if you peruse the legislation Albo has sponsored or co-sponsored over the years, you'll find a number of bills that raise some pretty serious conflict of interest questions, including bills aimed at increasing the minimum jail sentences for DUI offenses (here, here, and here), a previous bill calling for increased fines and points for traffic offenses (here), and the admissability of evidence in photo enforcement cases (here). Albo introduced a bill last year that actually became law—it suspends for one year the driver's license of anyone convicted of purchasing alcohol for anyone underage, intoxicated (!), or interdicted.

What's remarkable is that Albo's firm openly boasts about its success in beating DWI charges for its clients (check out the "recent victories" page: "Our client had a .33 BAC, and got off!)—charges the firm's co-founder has done everything he can to jack up during his tenure as a delegate.

This is pretty brazen stuff. I wonder why it hasn't been more of a story. And why Albo's still in office.

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  • Fritz||

    Reminds me: Frank Zappa had an amusing passage in his autobiography about the correlation between the staggering amount of white-collar crime laws and the majority of legislators who are also lawyers.

    Yes, since many politicians come from a background in law, it's only fit that they would come up with new reasons to keep themselves employed.

  • M||

    Do points incurred in one state affect one's license in another? Not that I have a personal insterest in the subject.

  • ||

    If Mr. Albo was srruck by a car driven by one of those people he got off, it would be a nice irony.


    *************************************

    Radley:

    You have rarely exercised your perogative to delete a post and block the poster's URL.

    I think you would be more than justified in doing so in the case of "fashionhause".

  • TLB||

    Good post, and... from Balko too! I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks Reason should feature more useful posts like this rather than the usual crap.

  • ||

    I see I am behind the times...

  • SIV||

    I'll second Reason should feature more "useful" posts. I haven't seen any mention of The Humane Society's actions in federal court to stop Amazon from selling cockfighting periodicals.

  • Steven||

    Do cops actually people over for speeding in VA? I've lived in NoVA for more than a year now and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen someone get pulled over. You have to drive nearly 20 mph over the speed limit just to stay with the flow of traffic.

  • Dave B.||

    You can bet they'll start pulling people over if they don't already.

  • ||

    Geez, SIV, when it comes to the cock, can't you just let it go?

  • amanda||

    I live in NOVA, too. I lost my license for 3 months for going 26 in a 25 mph school zone. Cop said I was going 50+. It was such a stupid case, I didn't even think to get a lawyer. And I see people pulled over all the time.

  • ||

    That greasy little shyster. I hope his opponent in the next election fries his ass.

    -jcr

  • tomWright||

    I am all for holding people more strictly accountable for driving dangerously, I have been hit by cars 3 times while riding my bicycle. Cars are more dangerous than guns when it comes to sheer numbers of deaths, or per capita deaths, in the US.

    But this guy is not after that, he is after business for this law firm.

    One more reason why lawyers should not be permitted hold any legislative office. It is a conflict of interest.

  • Fluffy||

    Maybe fishing for business for his practice explains why he would propose the legislation, but it doesn't explain why it would pass.

    That requires the assistance of the rest of the VA legislature.

    What's their damage?

    The transportation spending is bad enough, although I certainly understand how one could produce a legislative majority in favor of it. But these fines will surely produce an avalanche of complaints and anger.

    Unless it's very easy for state legislators in VA to get tickets "fixed", and the legislators assume that they'll just help out any friends of theirs who get tickets, and that it will only be "those other people" who actually pay the fines.

  • ||

    it will only be "those other people" who actually pay the fines.

    = out-of-staters who are unaware of this law, don't vote for state legislatures, and for whom traveling back to VA for the court date is more expensive than just paying the fines.

    Can't we somehow use antitrust to open up a competing state between Maryland and North Carolina?

  • John Venlet||

    This is pretty brazen stuff. I wonder why it hasn't been more of a story. And why Albo's still in office.

    This story is already a week old, far beyond the attention span of most individuals. I first mentioned it on June 24th here

  • ||

    "Our client had a .33 BAC, and got off!

    They argued that his diabetes may have inflated his BAC, the strong odor of alcohol in his car was due to the two open bottles of vodka therein, and some other legalese stuff. Of course, you know it's pretty bad when the guy passes out in the middle of reading the alphabet.

  • Randolph Carter||

    wait - he wasn't breaking some sort of open container law with 2 open bottles of vodka?

    Funny related story - one of my friends went camping with some people in the Adirondacks and brought 2 24-racks of beer. Like dutiful woodsmen, they kept all the empty cans in a trash bag, which they brought back to their car when they left. When they got pulled over for speeding on the way home, some cop tried to nail them on "open container" grounds because of, well, all the open containers.

  • ||

    out-of-staters who are unaware of this law, don't vote for state legislatures, and for whom traveling back to VA for the court date is more expensive than just paying the fines.


    The extra fines only apply to VA residents.

  • ||

    but the initial fine of up to $2,500 still applies to all drivers I bet.

    Then it's settled... I'll fly to North Carolina from now on.

  • ||

    Randolph Carter,

    That's what God made trunks for!

    Seriously, when I bring back empty beer bottles for deposit, I always make sure to put them in the trunk, 'cause I'm paranoid about that stuff.

  • ||

    Actually, if you're driving through Virginia on a business trip and get pulled over for speeding, can't you claim that you're engaged in interstate commerce, and thus only subject to regulation by Congress, not the VA legislature?

  • ||

    Do cops actually people over for speeding in VA?
    I saw 4 people pulled over between Leesburg and Alexandria yesterday (the first day of the new law). Two were pulled over by unmarked cars - Dodge Chargers I think.

  • nk||

    What a douche

  • ||

    For the locals, is it possible not to drive 15 mph over the outrageous speed limits on the Dulles access road? Also, why any part of 66 is 55mph is baffling, and even more baffling is the fact that all of 495 and 395 are 55mph.

  • ||

    Crimethink,

    People have already attempted that negative-commerce-clause type argument, and no, it won't work unless you can show that the speed limits were designed to discriminate against interstate commerce.

  • ||

    My friend emailed Ablo about this legislation, and Albo blatently said he passed this law because he needs the money that the fines will bring. Didn't even try to invoke any public safety argument, didn't say that that the problems were getting worse and something needed to be done, he said sorry you feel this is outrageous, I need the money for spending projects.

  • ||

    Scott, what Albo says is a little more coherent if you know the recent political history in VA. Several areas in VA have pretty bad congestion traffic wise and many roads that need repair. So the Dems have been pushing for tax increases to fund the roads projects, while the GOP at first pulled a Global Warming (there is no problem) but then was cajoled by their paymasters in the business community to come up with something (they were also losing elections). Then ehy swore not to raise taxes, though the heavens fall. So the GOP had a problem: they had pretty much made asses of themselves with their swearing to never raise taxes, but their paymasters were demanding something. So they cem up with bullcrap ideas like this one, using increased fines to pay for the roads. Here in VA our GOP never quite made it out of Cro-Magnon stage (this is the state where a GOP governor nearly ruined our state economy with an inane promise to get rid of car taxes, which of course are a LOCAL not STATE tax. The fool promised rebates to eliminate the tax, and of course the localities could just raise the taxes with no political fallout since the taxpayer did not have to pay it. The fool could have given a deduction on your state taxes to cover the cost and avoided much of the problem, but hey, thats not catchy on a bumper sticker. That fool is Jim Gilmore, now running for President. I'll give him credit for one thing: he almost singlehandledly put the Dems back in the game here in VA, a state where they should be at a natural disadvantage...)

  • ||

    Driving as little as 15 MPH over the limit on an interstate highway now brings six license demerit points, a fine of up to $2500, up to one year in jail, and a new mandatory $1050 tax.


    Holy crap. The mandatory tax alone would ruin me. Fuck that noise.

    Just for that, I'm not sure I'll ever be attending any more events in Virginia or D.C., ever. I'm seriously contemplating boycotting the whole state indefinitely.

  • bill||

    Someone in VA needs to follow this Albo guy around while he drives taping him. If he goes over the speed limit or breaks any other traffic laws send it to the news media.

  • ||

    I actually used this firm back in '99 or so to defend me against a reckless driving charge for speeding. I was going 100 and the prosecutor wanted to put me in jail. I 'got off' with a 6mo suspended license and a $3000 fine. I was able to charge the fine on a credit card and borrow the money from my dad to pay it off. I've only had 2 speeding tickets since then (one of which was complete BS), both of which I plead down to 9 over, so I'm reformed! The system works!

  • ||

    A new amendment to the US Constitution: No person having been a lawyer within the last five years before the election date to any legislative or executive is inelegible. And anyone who practices within five years of leaving office, shall be fined a minmum of $1,000,000.00 and serve a minmum of five years in hard labor.

    Until then, ANOTHER JOB FOR THE LIBERTARIAN MILITIA.

  • ||

    A new amendment to the US Constitution: No person having been a lawyer within the last five years before the election date to any legislative or executive is inelegible. And anyone who practices within five years of leaving office, shall be fined a minmum of $1,000,000.00 and serve a minmum of five years in hard labor.

    Until then, ANOTHER JOB FOR THE LIBERTARIAN MILITIA.


    Terry,

    May I suggest getting a lawyer to help you draft that amendment? As it stands now, your double negative makes every lawyer automatically eligible.

  • ||

    Yea, I know, I just reread my post before yours.
    Sorry about that, but that is what happens when you write while waiting for the copy machine.
    It should read,
    "is elegible."
    Live and learn.

  • ||

    No person having been a lawyer within the last five years before the election date to any legislative or executive is inelegible. And anyone who practices within five years of leaving office, shall be fined a minmum of $1,000,000.00 and serve a minmum of five years in hard labor.

    Ideally, you'd want some lawyers in there, just to have someone who could think about the practical, on-the-ground effects of a proposed law, and how it might conflict/interact with existing laws.

    Often, the legislature hands out new laws, only to leave all the everyday practitioners -- the cops, DAs, judges, and defense lawyers who are in the same courts every day of the week doing the same cases over and over -- at a loss as to exactly how to apply the newfangled invention.

    But that's how it goes. The pols pass feel-good laws to stay in power, and don't care how the rest of us have to deal with them. To me, what this scumbag has done is no different than the good ole-boy who proposes yet another flag-burning amendment two weeks before election time, knowing damn well the law will never hold up in court.

    Ultimately the problem is a widespread one: legislators writing laws for all the wrong reasons. Hardly a tendency unique to lawyers.

  • ||

    I'll be doing an internship with the Commonwealth Attorney's office this fall and I'm really looking forward spending my first months of law practice prosecuting traffic offenses. At least I'll have the honor of trying a few DUI's which, when legitimate, are always grounds for real punishment.

    As for Del. Albo, the VA Bar should at the very least reprimand him for this embarrassment to the legal profession. Pity it would be unethical for me to target defendants for using his firm. (BTW, "unethical" for me means I won't do it.)

  • Moving to MD||

    This is pathetic! Albo is a real prick! Is there anything we can do about this?

  • ||

    So if I understand this correctly - I live in DC and have District plates. I work in Virginia and drive there every day. Any cop seeing a group of speeders will pull over the VA licensed cars first since they will result in more revenue. So for me, this is basically a license for me to speed, as long as a Virginia car is also doing it, right?

  • ||

    Would this not be considered some kind of conflict of interest, or is he just a lobbyist?
    Maybe it is just me. However if they could not budget the monies for transportation right the first time, how is this increase of funds going to be put to use right this time. Instead of fixing the problem just throw more money at it? Makes no sense to me.
    CL good point by the way. Why bother you I get more bang for my buck from pulling the VA cars.

  • ||

    Actually, it would be sweet justice if a close family member of his was hit and killed by one of the DUI criminals he set free over BS technicalities, instead of himself being hit. This was he can feel real pain. How this made it to law with such a conflict of interest is beyond me. I guess the oil owners should put into law that gas is not permitted to go below $5/gallon in Virginia unless you are from out of state. That sounds fair, right?

  • ||

    I emailed Dave Albo and told him the cops will be watching him wherever he goes ....

  • jan||

    Yes this is an amazing conflict of interest, self serving...why isn't this in the Washington POST? I don't support tougher DWI laws there is already a vendetta put forth by the very crazed MADDs and Albo continues to get rich on peoples misfortune by making it even worse. DWI laws are catching people (hard working professionals having literally one beer after work), too extreme - which is what Albo is.

  • sathi2000||

    Right now, the bill would raise $500 million but it's one time. ... If VA can't keep up with demand for liquor, they should act like a smart ... Perhaps the plan is that then new jobs at the groceries
    http://www.mirei.com

  • دردشة يمنية||

    nice

  • Austin Remodeling Contractors||

    Yes, Bob Barr and his campaign could have handled the whole press conference thing better, as well as his overall campaign. And, as a result, Bob and I do have our differences. That said, Bob will likely garner more votes than any other LP presidential nominee to date - a good thing no matter how you slice it.

  • ||

    This is a attention-grabbing post by the way. I am going to go ahead and bookmark this article for my brother to check out later on tonight. Keep up the good work.
    Austin Roofing Contractors

  • ||

    Yes this is an amazing conflict of interest, self serving...why isn't this in the Washington POST? I don't support tougher DWI laws there is already a vendetta put forth by the very crazed MADDs and Albo continues to get rich on peoples misfortune by making it even worse. DWI laws are catching people (hard working professionals having literally one beer after work), too extreme
    Mother's Day Flowers

  • ||

    Albo is a real prick! Is there anything we can do about this?
    help with resume

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