A Speeding Ticket to Avoid

Speeding tickets are meant to financially penalize the offender. So, as the Associated Press reports, some European countries are raising ticket fines in proportion to the incomes of their wealthiest speeders. After all, a mere $100 fine is hardly worth slowing down for. A Swiss court recently fined a well known multimillionaire “traffic thug” $290,000 for speeding. [%comments]


Great idea! We should implement it for offenses punishable by a fine. Show up with your tax return and checkbook, penalties should hurt regardless of how rich you are. As the parable of the poor widow illustrates, charity and fines are easy as long as they don't affect your lifestyle.


Making the fine proportional to wealth might be reasonable for repeat offender "traffic thugs" who think their wealth gives them a privilege to bad behavior, but on a first offense it's nothing more than a wealth redistribution scheme by the overlords.


This story reminded me of a bit Chris Rock did a while ago. He said that we need "bullet control," not gun control. That every bullet should cost $5,000 and it would reduce the number of innocent bystanders shot. Funny idea. Not a bad one either.

Paul Dz

Good idea. Why bother with niceties like the equal protection clause of the constitution.


That's a nice read, but it'll never happen in the U.S.A. thanks to the Constitution which protects its citizens against excessive fines. If I remember correctly it's in the 8th amendment as well as stated elsewhere.

Lew H

Why not have a punishment that is the same across the board and hurts equally to everyone. Something not monetary. Driving school...or something like that.


> equal protection clause
... I'm no lawyer, but it sounds MORE equal to make the fine proportional to wealth or lack thereof.


Wouldn't this be a subsidy for low-income law breakers? Might create a situation where a person can barely afford to drive but can easily afford the traffic ticket.


@Paul Dz: Do you think prison terms violate the equal protection clause? Most of us see nothing wrong with expressing penalties in terms of days of life lost. It makes a lot of sense to extend this to finanical penalties--make a traffic ticket cost 1/1000 of your annual income or such. Still completely equal treatment, and makes them much more effective.


Is there a precedent on the equal protection clause being applied to income?

Katie Cunningham

Is this new? I seem to recall some 'Strange but True' stories like this back in the 90's.


@#4 - I don't think the Equal Protection Clause would be hard to get around. Write a statute that fines at a fixed percentage of income (a tenth of one percent? I dunno, someone would have to do math).

I wouldn't like it much, but it seems like it'd be constitutional.


FYI the ticket was to a repeat offender in a Ferrari who tried to bluff the police officer into thinking he was a diplomat. So I think he deserved more significant punishment. And the previous story was I think a $260k to a Finnish multi-millionaire in a half million dollar supercar. As far as I'm concerned if you get pulled over for driving a car that should be on a track like it was on a track you should be fined accordingly, I'm just not quite sure how you would properly define that.


Finland has been doing this for years. They base the fine on your hourly wage which is in turn based on your reported earnings. So (in theory) each person is evenly punished in terms of how much work they have to do to pay off the fine. The CEO of Nokia famously got a ticket in 2002 for over $100,000.


@Paul It can be argued that this would *establish* equality where previously there was none. A fixed fine has completely unequal consequences depend on your income.

Captain Oblivious

Great idea - we should do this for everything (food, clothing, housing, cars, etc)! That way it'll be "fair" to everyone!

P.S. So can the poor speed with impunity?

Captain Oblivious

Tom, are we talking about penalties in terms of days of life lost by the murderee (that is, killing babies is worse than killing old people), or days of life spent in prison by the murderer (that is, giving 20-somethings "20 years" is OK, but the same sentence would be excessive for someone in his 70s)???


?P.S. So can the poor speed with impunity?»

Losing 10% of your income is much more damaging to the poor than to the rich. For the poor it might mean losing the next meal. For the rich it means losing the next Ferrari.


Do people who support this also think prison terms be similarly 'equalized'? Being locked in prison away from a mansion is much worse than being locked in prison away from a shack. This 'equalization' theory would say that a much stiffer sentence should be necessary to equally deter poorer people.

So the richer you are, the less prison time you should get, by law (not just through better lawyers).


I don't agree with it but if it is implemented there needs to be a threshold (like double the speed limit or something) where it kicks in.