DMV launches pay-per-mile program that could save some drivers money

By: - July 15, 2022 12:02 am

A mileage tracking device similar to the ones used in Virginia’s new Mileage Choice Program. (Photo courtesy of Virginia DMV)

Virginians with fuel-efficient, hybrid or electric vehicles who don’t drive all that much might be able to save some money under a new program that ties road fees to miles driven.

The Virginia DMV’s voluntary Mileage Choice Program lets participants install a device in their vehicle that tracks how many miles they drive. Similar to an E-ZPass for tolls, users will enter payment information, pay an initial balance of $15 and that amount will slowly diminish with each mile they drive. 

If someone ends up driving more than they expected to, the fees can never exceed the highway use fee the driver would’ve paid if they didn’t sign up for the per-mile program.

By choosing to participate in the Mileage Choice Program, customers may pay less, but will also spread out their highway use fee instead of paying one lump sum annually,” acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford said in a news release announcing the launch.

DMV spokeswoman Brandy Brubaker said the launch of the program has been “extremely successful,” with more than 1,800 people signing up in the first two weeks.

“That’s 90 percent of the way to the 12-month enrollment goal we set based on the experiences of other states,” she said in an email.

Drivers can enroll in the program when renewing their vehicle registration. Prior to enrollment, users should set up an account with Emovis, the vendor providing the technology. 

To address privacy concerns, users can choose a mileage tracker without GPS functionality to prevent the system from collecting location data. The fees will apply for all miles driven, not just time driving on publicly funded Virginia roads.

The highway use fee was implemented in 2020 as a way for the state to collect more transportation revenue from drivers who were paying less in gas taxes because their vehicles use less gas than older models or no gas at all.

The standard fee varies based on the vehicle. The average highway use fee is about $20, according to DMV. The average is somewhat skewed because electric vehicle owners can pay upwards of $100 and many fuel-efficient vehicles pay a fee closer to $14.

Anyone who signs up for the pay-per-mile option but decides to quit the program would be charged the difference between their highway use fee and the amount they already paid on a per-mile basis.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.