- Politics and Social Issues
Traffic Fines Proportional to Income
Spare change for the Rich
Many people are familiar with the traditional way in which traffic fines work in the United States. Afterall, who hasn't gotten a speeding ticket or a parking ticket for an expired parking meter.
Most likely, the amount of the fine is based on the severity of the violation. For example, the greater the speed excess, the greater the amount.
But is that a good deterrent for a the extremely wealthy? A $100 speeding ticket doesn't mean anything to a millionaire. It is spare change to them. If they wanted to, they can drive as fast as they want. They don't care if they get a ticket. They will just pay it without problem.
They can park illegally or double-park anywhere they want to. They just send in the check and considered it the fee to park illegally. Have you ever seen a person in an expensive car causally drive up and park illegally fully knowing that they are making an obvious parking violation? I sure have. Many have too. It is not that uncommon.
Price High for the Poor
On the other hand, a $100 ticket would be a great financial hardship to the less then wealthy. They would have to go out of their way to come out and feed the meter to avoid a ticket. They would have to spend extra time driving around longer to find legal parking spaces.
And when they get caught in a random speed trap (and who has not?), the price of the speeding ticket would probably mean no dinner tonight.
Money going to pay for the ticket means less for groceries. This is not an exaggeration. Making a right-turn on red without a full stop and getting caught on an automatic traffic camera could be a fine as high as $400.
In addition, one may have to go to traffic school in order to not let this get on their records and have their car insurance go up. That possibly can mean missed time at work and therefore even less income.
Unlike the rich where they are paid a fixed salary regardless of the hours worked, the less wealthy are paid on an hourly wage. No work for an hour mean less money to buy grocery. Sure there are "traffic school" on weekends. But many low-wage earners are working two jobs covering both weekdays and weekends.
Need a Better System
Both the rich and the poor gets the same ticket from a speed trap. Although the price of the ticket is the same, the penalty to the poor seems more severe.
Does that seem like a fair system?
Some other countries do not think so. And they have come up with a different system, a system that some say is better.
In many European countries, the price of the speeding ticket is based on the income. The greater your wealth, the greater the amount that you have to pay. The penalty fits the crime and the person's wealth.
Germany, France, Austria and the Nordic countries are a few countries whose traffic tickets are based on the violator's wealth.
An official at the Swiss Justice Ministry said ...
"It wasn't about making the punishment harsher or lighter, but more sensible" [reference]
Although Germany caps the maximum ticket amount at $16 million. Switzerland caps it at $1 million.
Speeding Ticket Based on Income
Some example of extreme cases are ...
- In Switerland, a 53-year-old man get a nearly $290,000 fine for driving 85 mph in a 50 mph zone. His annual income was more than $820,000 and was driving a red Ferrari Testarossa at the time. The fact that he was a "traffic menace" with previous violation was taken into account.
- In Finland, a 27-year-old get a £116,000 ticket for driving 80km/h in a 40km/h zone. His annual income for 2002 was £7m.
- In Finland in year 2000, internet millionaire Jaakko Rytsola gets a ticket for £54,000 for a speeding violation.
- In 2002, Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki was fined 116,000 euros. But it was reduced by 95% due because his income dropped due to the downturn in the company's profits.
- Speeding fines being linked to income in Europe - SFGate
European countries are increasingly pegging speeding fines to income as a way to punish wealthy scofflaws who would otherwise ignore tickets. The Swiss court appeared to set a world record when it levied the fine in November on a man identified in th
- Swiss Slap Speeder With $290K Fine | Autopia | Wired.com
Next time you’re in Switzerland driving down a windy village road at the foothills of the Alps, you may want to make sure you’re either very mindfu
- 'Roadhog' gets £182,000 Swiss speeding fine | World news | The Guardian
Millionaire defendant clocked at 85mph in a 50mph zone claimed his diplomatic status gave him immunity
- BBC NEWS | Business | Finn's speed fine is a bit rich
One of Finland's richest men has been handed a record speeding fine, thanks to the country's policy of relating the fine to your income.