Marla Diaz Argues the Constitutionality in Virginia Express Lanes Case

Date: March 20, 2015

Marla Diaz was quoted in length in WTOP’s article, “Judge Delays Ruling on Landmark Express Lanes Case.”  The Judge's decision could have a significant impact on users of Virginia's Express Lanes.  Marla argues the fines charged to her client are excessive and violate the 8th Amendment and the Virginia Constitution.  

Cooley’s attorney Marla Diaz argued before the court that the fines were excessive and violated both the 8th Amendment and the Virginia Constitution. Smith questioned attorney, Caleb Kershner on the matter, although it’s unclear which way he’d rule.

“The statute is intended to penalize people who knew they did something wrong and kept abusing the toll lanes, not somebody who had no notice that their transponder didn’t work or the bank account wasn’t properly charged,” says Diaz.

“You don’t know if you fail to make a toll payment because there are no lights and no other signals. So until you get a letter, you don’t know that you’ve violated the toll. How can they be entitled to charge you with escalating penalties when you weren’t given notice of the problem?” she adds.

Diaz likens it to a DUI case where drivers cannot face additional penalties and jail time until a court has found them guilty, then they get another DUI. Smith questioned why the 11 unpaid toll trips were considered 11 separate offenses, rather than one offense with a single $50 penalty.

“The judge played his cards close to the vest today, so I don’t think we know exactly what he’s thinking. But he asked some great questions and he’s very interested, which is what we want,” says Diaz.

Read the full story here:

Marla was also interviewed in a WUSA9 news segment, “Judge to Rule on HOT Lane Constitutionality.”