Income-based traffic fines

This may be a Europe-only idea, and it has been around for a while.

European countries are increasingly pegging speeding fines to income as a way to punish wealthy scofflaws who would otherwise ignore tickets.

[…] Germany, France, Austria and the Nordic countries also issue punishments based on a person’s wealth. In Germany the maximum fine can be as much as $16 million compared to only $1 million in Switzerland. Only Finland regularly hands out similarly hefty fines to speeding drivers, with the current record believed to be a $190,000 ticket in 2004.

High fines charged to wealthy European drivers have made the headlines and fueled complaints but a fine of a few hundred dollars probably wasn’t going to stop a wealthy driver from speeding repeatedly.

Not sure if we actually have a problem with wealthy traffic violators ignoring speeding fines here. But one thing is certain, there is a different mindset regarding what constitutes fairness in Europe .

A special planning adviser at the Finnish Ministry of Interiors said “We have progressive taxation and progressive punishments. So the more you earn, the more you pay.

In Finland it is believed the wealthy and the poor should suffer equally. Penalties on offenses ranging from shoplifting to securities law violations are imposed on a sliding scale based on last declared income and severity of the crime.

Quite an idea to ponder in the same week the US Justice Department report on a pattern of racial discrimination admonished Ferguson Missouri for using petty crime charges to pad the city budget. They found that 16,000 out of the city’s 21,000 residents have outstanding warrants for minor traffic tickets and other violations.

It is an interesting concept linking certain fines to income. Interesting – as in it probably could never happen here.

Because you know we can’t punish our wealthy speeders so much that they would simply move to states with lower traffic fines.


3 thoughts on “Income-based traffic fines

  1. It’s politically incorrect even to suggest such a thing…because it’s, you know, anti-capitalistic, and in this country, capitalism is almost a religion.

    Loved this line:

    Because you know we can’t punish our wealthy speeders so much that they would simply move to states with lower traffic fines.  

  2. Saw in the paper and heard at Town Meeting about the program in a handful of counties to allow people whose licenses have been suspended for non-payment of fines to get their slates wiped clean for $20 per ticket.

    On the one hand, it recognizes the reality of far flung jobs, child care, and housing with rare, if any, public transportation. People drive because they have to, license suspended or not.

    On the other, it might be sending the wrong message: it’s okay to be a scofflaw, the state will either let you off or not find you on the road. Some folks I’ve encountered embrace the latter view.

    And there’s no “income sensitivity” to this program, either.


    All in favor of conserving gasoline, please raise your right foot.  ~ Author Unknown  

  3. Here in Vermont no Serious Democrat would even think of raising fees on anyone that could afford it.  Democrats only go after the poor for money, through pay cuts, increased fees and cutting social services that the poor rely on to not die.

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