Drivers frustrated by highway use fee in Virginia

The fee was introduced by the General Assembly in 2020

ROANOKE, Va. – Some may be surprised by the highway use fee you’ll have to pay when renewing your car’s registration, leading to cost concerns for some in our area.

Bob Carpenteri is a car fanatic.

“I used to have a Z28 Camaro then I had a 350z Nissan,” Carpenteri said.

And over time, this car enthusiast wanted a car that benefitted the environment and his wallet. He travels between Montgomery and Roanoke counties for work.

It’s why he decided to get a Tesla.

[MORE: Breaking down the Virginia DMV’s Mileage Choice Program]

“When fuel prices started to rise, I thought maybe it was the right thing to do,” Carpenteri said.

Carpenteri was surprised to receive a notice for a $150 highway use fee when he had to renew his car registration last month.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said because of the trends, the General Assembly came up with the highway use fee in 2020.

“For the first time in Virginia history vehicles miles traveled increased, and motor fuel taxes, what has been collected decreased,” Jessica Cowardin with the DMV said.

It’s a way for the DMV to collect money to help maintain roads and highways.

DMV officials said that some may now start to see the additional fee because it’s also a part of getting your vehicle registration in the Commonwealth.

Specific drivers must pay additional fees, like those who own electric vehicles or cars that get 25 or more miles to the gallon.

Drivers can pay in full or enter the Mileage Choice Program.

“As part of the legislation in 2022 we are pleased to offer an alternative to the highway use fee,” Cowardin said.

Senator Steve Newman is hoping for a change in legislation.

“This year, I introduced a bill that Virginians aren’t forced to buy an electric vehicle, this entire idea of alternative tax for these individuals is just wrong,” Newman said.

About the Author:

Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.