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      07-02-2013, 03:55 PM   #1

Drives: Double Vanos'd Civic-M3
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: San Francisco

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new VA motor vehicle related laws effective Monday this week

The new law reformulates the 17.5 cents-per-gallon fuel tax that hasn't changed since 1986, ditching the volume-based tax for one tied to cost. Starting Monday, a 3.5 percent tax will be paid on gasoline at the wholesale level - a cost that jobbers and dealers will presumably reflect in pump prices. In theory at least, that should reduce the cost to drivers of gasoline-powered cars by about 6 cents per gallon from existing tax, or a savings of $1.20 on a 20-gallon fill-up from the current Virginia average gasoline price just under $3.40 per gallon.

“I’m happy,” says one BMW M3 driver. “I got a car that only takes premium, so that’s a big help for me.”

The new tax on diesel, however, is 6 percent of cost, something that chafes big-rig drivers and owners of personal vehicles that use the higher-priced fuel. At last week's average per-gallon cost of about $3.70 in Virginia, they stand to pay 4 cents more per gallon, or 80 cents more than the existing tax for a 20-gallon fill-up.

Gasoline taxes could increase to 5.1 percent unless a quarrelsome Congress enacts federal legislation allowing Virginia and other states to collect sales taxes on Internet or catalog sales involving out-of-state retailers by Jan. 1, 2015. The 6 percent diesel tax rate would not change.

The new tax structure is designed to keep pace with fuel price increases. The steady climb in prices, particularly since 2008, hastened the obsolescence of the volume-based gasoline tax. When it went into effect 27 years ago, gasoline was about one-third of today's prices. As fuel costs increased, people drove less and cars became more fuel-efficient, decreasing the fuel consumption and the taxes collected on it. As revenues ebbed, costs for asphalt, concrete, steel and the labor necessary to build roads soared, forcing Virginia for years to shelve tens of billions of dollars in needed construction projects for lack of money.

There's more grief for owners of hybrid, alternative fuel or electrical vehicles. An extra $64 will be tacked onto annual vehicle registration fees as a share of paying for better roads and bridges.

Starting Monday, using a smartphone to text, read email or do something similar can get drivers pulled over and ticketed. Texting had been a secondary offense, meaning officers could cite offenders only if they were stopped for a superseding violation such as speeding or running a red light. Now, working an iPhone while driving means a $125 first-offense fine, up from $20, and more for subsequent violations.

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okay, I edited one line of this, thought it was funny, can't believe they included it in the write drive a car that takes premium, don't complain about gas costs, you get no sympathy
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