Traffic fines: deterrent, punishment, revenue stream, or what?

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  1. Jeff Berndt profile image90
    Jeff Berndtposted 6 years ago

    Here's an interesting conundrum:

    When you get a speeding ticket (in the US) you pay a fine, and the amount of the fine usually depends on how fast you were going and where you were at the time (penalties doubled in construction zones, for example).

    Other countries levy greater fines on those who have greater income, figuring that a $100 fine is a bigger punishment for someone who earns, say, $500/week than it is for someone who earns, say, $5,000/week (a fifth of his weekly pay as opposed to a 50th).

    Some have argued that this would be unfair, since it levies different fines (measured in dollar amount) for the same crime from different people.

    What if the punishment were community service instead? Say, an hour of community service for every mile above the speed limit? It wouldn't be fair to make a wealthy person do twice as many hours of community service as a poor person, would it? Nor would it be fair to make a poor person do twice as many hours of community service as a wealthy person, would it?

    Now, consider that a $100 fine represents eight hours of work for the person who earns $500/week. The same fine represents less than an hour's worth of work (about 48 minutes) for the person who earns $5,000/week.

    If we wouldn't sentence a poor man to more hours of community service than a rich man, why would we fine a poor man the equivalent of eight hours of work, while we fine a rich man the equivalent of 48 minutes of work?

    What do you folks think?

  2. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago

    It isn't a bad idea but the costs of administering it would be huge.

  3. paradigmsearch profile image90
    paradigmsearchposted 6 years ago

    In many counties in the US, the courts are big on tacking on extra fees. A $200 fine ends up being a $600-$700 fine.

    Net result?

    Rich person pays fine.

    Poor person has to choose between paying fine or paying food and rent. Poor person chooses the food/rent and doesn't show up in court since they can't pay and are afraid. Warrant for arrest is then issued. Next time police car and poor person car happen to meet, police auto-license-plate scanner detects warrant. Car impounded (permanently, since poor person can't pay to retrieve it), poor person arrested, poor person still owes original fines and fees, poor person gets even more new fines and fees, poor person stays in jail for awhile, thus is fired from job. Poor person commits suicide. County classifies it as poor person being depressed due to mental illness.

    Have a nice day.

    1. Reality Bytes profile image86
      Reality Bytesposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Or, the poor are incarcerated and forced to perform labor for slave wages!

  4. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago

    Jail is expensive too.  Neither jail nor community service runs at a net profit.


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