10/19/2011 5:25 PM ET|
Should a rich speeder pay more?
An increasing number of European nations base the cost of a traffic ticket on some measure of the driver's income. But don't expect such progressive penalties to find a home in this country.
Think you could ever empathize with a multimillionaire in a Ferrari busted with his foot to the floor?
You might if that driver were stopped in a place like Finland or Switzerland, two in a growing number of European nations that consider a driver's income when tabulating the cost of a traffic ticket. In the U.S., a habitual lead-foot has more to fear, financially, from his car insurance company than he does from Officer Bob.
Law enforcement in Europe goes right for the wallet.
Consider the 2009 penalty for a villa owner whose personal wealth exceeded $20 million: $300,000 for driving his Ferrari Testarossa 85 mph through a Swiss village, at the time the largest speeding ticket in the world.
But the man held the record only briefly. The next year, a Swedish multimillionaire clocked at 180 mph in his new Mercedes-Benz on a Swiss highway was expected to take home a $1 million fine.
Maximum fines are permitted to go even higher in Germany, to $16 million.
The graduated-penalty structure dates back nearly 100 years in Nordic countries and is not restricted to traffic offenses. In recent years, the system has been adopted in France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. How tickets are assessed varies. But, in general, authorities determine the severity of the offense and multiply the ticket by some measure of the driver's income.
In the U.S., penalties depend on where you speed, not how much you make. Maximum fines for first-timers run from $50 in Tennessee to $2,500 in Virginia and Illinois, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
A $300 fine represents a little over three minutes of earnings for LeBron James, who took home $45.7 million in 2010. But someone earning the minimum wage would have to work a week to pay it off.
'The system is very democratic'
In Finland, headline-grabbing tickets are old news. Speeding and other petty crimes have long been met with "day fines" -- a penalty equal to a day's income, minus a few deductions for children and living expenses. Finnish police tap the country's tax database, use those records to calculate a day fine, then levy the appropriate number of day fines for the offense.
Both the heir to a sausage fortune and a Nokia executive received $100,000-plus speeding tickets in the early 2000s.
One Finnish hockey player, fined $39,000 for causing an injury crash, threatened to leave the country. The executive of a wood products company, outraged after nearly $60,000 in fines, called it "legalized robbery by police," adding, "I'm surprised they're not authorized to shoot you, too."
But voters hardly appear sympathetic.
In Finland, surveys show that 80% of citizens support a graduated-fine structure. When a legislator introduced a bill in 2000 to cap most speeding tickets at $8,000, she received support from only 29 of 200 lawmakers, according The Wall Street Journal.
"The system is very democratic," Heikki Summala, a professor at the University of Helsinki, told U.S. News & World Report. "Huge fines are not common, and the people who get them generally accept it, because they have the money to pay for it."
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i'm sure obama is for this. more redistribution of wealth. i already support the 45% of this country who pay no federal tax. i guess then i should expect something in return for the excessive amount i pay.
1)no standing in line at any gov't office. i walk right to the front
2)when i go to the airport i get a special security line
3)i should be able to drive in hov lane with 1 person to avoid traffic
i'm tired of all the freeloaders in this country who get all our government services for free while i work my **** off to support you. and now you want more. some of you people, especially you 99%ers, don't realize that it's because of people like me that anyone has a job. i took many risks and still do. i have 8 years of college. maybe you people should appreciate the wealthy for what they have done to make this country great instead of villifying them
This article and these comments are almost suggesting there are tons of rich people driving around speeding like crazy putting people lives at risk. Well thats simply not the case. I live in the richest area of the country and never see this. You know who I see speeding the most often? Idiot people in 99 Civics, aka poor people, and women, while on their phones.
This type of mentallity comes from the lazy, jealous entitleists in this country who have made bad choices and are irresponsible(while cheering on the favorite multi-million dollar athlete or rapper). Generally speaking these "rich" people are smarter, and do make better choices. Thats a fact. And based on that, aren't speeding any more than anyone else. If anything it's less. They value their life- understand the danger and the risk of drving erratically.
If the only thing preventing you from driving 100 is a speeding ticket, then its understandable that you want everything handed to you, because your pea-brain can't conjusre up thoughts of hard work, responsibility, civility and respect for others. Worry about your self. This is America, at least for now. The only place where you have every opportunity to succeed as much as you want. And unfortunately, at times you can sit around and do nothing with yourself and still complain- and thats Ok too.
go back to school and get a education so you can earn more money. then you can pay for all the dead beats out there. about 75% of my home owners taxes go to schools guess what i don't have kids. so if you want me to pay bigger fines don't make me pay for your kids to go to school too.
Jack Bridges - If you really want to see the depths of the liberal media bias, I'm going to tell you a fact that you've never heard in the media:
The 5 highest revenue years for the Federal Gov't were in the last 6 years.
You have probably heard that the Bush tax cuts were starving the Gov't of money.
NOPE. Highest revenue years in US history (even adjusted for inflation).
And they don't like to mention that the Federal Gov't doubled in size in just 10 years.
Yes, return to 2001 spending levels and they are in the black!
Now, have you ever heard that in the media?
Why do police and the traffic courts have access to people's financial data? This is a huge breech of one's privacy.
Q: A poor person and a wealthy person doing the same speed in the same type of vehicle, on the same stretch of road are both pulled over at the same time by two officers from the same police department. The wealthy person ends up paying a fine of $500, the poor person ends up with a fine of $250. Both with the identical infraction in the very same circumstance.
Please tell me how this is NOT a class warfare issue? You are now no longer viewed as equals in the eyes of the law but now you are treated more harshly for having wealth, as though it is a three strikes and you are out rule.
The tax on cigarettes is thus unfair also? Everyone that buys a pack (or a 6-pack of beer, etc) pays the exact same amount! Shouldn't the 'rich' pay a 'more proportionate' share of that also? And the tax on cigarettes and beer is even more unfair in that most of it is bought by the poor. So how do we make that fair? Just arbitrarily assign an additional tax to the wealthy to 'make up for' their failure to pay that tax proportionately? Get a clue! 2 =2. Equality is Equality!
Taxes on Cigarettes and Alcohol are not fines. They are not deterrents to criminal behaviour. They are thus completely inapplicable to the discussion at hand. So, lose the straw man argument. Its not going to win you any points except from the illiterate or the idiotic.
No One should pay more or less than the same flat rate.
All the way back to the first debate on this thread this morning, the issue of murder came up. Should a wealthy person serve less time because the sentence of prison impacts them differently? Because the change in lifestyle is greater? Then why should they pay a greater fine because they can 'better afford it'? Equality NOW, people! Your talk of regressive and progressive, etc., is merely a semantic smokescreen for wanting to punish people for success and/or reward others for failure. But I guarantee you don't want your 'progressive' ideas applied to you! The hypocrisy is appalling. Equality NOW! No special breaks for anyone, No additional burdens on anyone.
Actually, I likely sit in the same or a greater tax bracket than yourself. And I support this. if I made even more, I would still support this.
Additionally I find your cries for 'Equality Now!' to be extremely ironic. I am certain you support Cains tax plan which would make things worse for the majority of the country and make things better for a very few. The very few who are already bleeding the country dry.
Simple matter of this is.. you ARE receiving equality under a fine system that fines a percentage of income (with a niminal minimal fine) because everyone is fined a percentage that is equal.
2% = 2% The value that is derived from this may be different but that is, again, to ensure that the fine hits everyone _equally_.
Thats the part you seeem to not understand. If the fine is such that it is too small as to amount to being equal to what someone spent on lunch, and thus seemes inconsequential, the fine is not a deterrent which is what it is supposed to be. Fines in lieu of jail time are societies way of punishing people for breaking minor laws and thus keeping the infractor productive and part of society while not wasting socities time and money incarcerating them for a minor offense.
So, PICK ONE. When you are caught for speed it is an immediate jail term of at least one day OR a fine equivalent to one days pay. A flat fine is _unequal_.
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