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posted by martyb on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:09AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cheaper-to-pay-someone-else-to-drive dept.

Joe Pinsker writes at The Atlantic that Finnish businessman Reima Kuisla was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country and ended up paying a fine of $56,000. The fine was so extreme because in Finland, some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings—and Kuisla's declared income was €6.5 million per year. Several years ago another executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle.

Finland’s system for calculating fines is relatively simple: It starts with an estimate of the amount of spending money a Finn has for one day, and then divides that by two—the resulting number is considered a reasonable amount of spending money to deprive the offender of. Then, based on the severity of the crime, the system has rules for how many days the offender must go without that money. Going about 15 mph over the speed limit gets you a multiplier of 12 days, and going 25 mph over carries a 22-day multiplier. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland also have some sliding-scale fines, or “day-fines,” in place.

[More after the break.]

Should such a system be used in the United States? After all, wealthier people have been shown to drive more recklessly than those who make less money. For example Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates. But more importantly, day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor. Last week, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on how fines have been doled out in Ferguson, Missouri. "Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs," it concluded.

The first day-fine ever in the U.S. was given in 1988, and about 70 percent of Staten Island’s fines in the following year were day-fines. A similar program was started in Milwaukee, and a few other cities implemented the day-fine idea. Nevertheless, in America, flat-rate fines are the norm and day-fines remain unusual and even exotic.

According to Judith Greene, who founded Justice Strategies, a non-profit research organization, all of these initiatives were effective in making the justice system fairer for poor people. “When considering a proportion of their income, people are at least constantly risk-averse. This means that the worst that would happen is that the deterrent effect of fines would be the same across wealth or income levels,” says Casey Mulligan. "We should start small—say, only speeding tickets—and see what happens."

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:18AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:18AM (#158817) Journal

    That's awesome. Can we invite the Finns to come run America for a decade and make the place reasonable, fair, and consistent? Imagine, rich people *feeling* the sting of their misbehavior!

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 5, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:40AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:40AM (#158824) Journal
      Huh, you wish. Uber will create a dedicated corp of speeding drivers for hire.
      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:28PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:28PM (#158913) Journal

        Huh, you wish. Uber will create a dedicated corp of speeding drivers for hire.
         
        If only there were regulations for commercial drivers to prevent this sort of thing...

        • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:43PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:43PM (#158917)

          regulations

          Spawn of Satan, making recommendations of pure evil! The good Christians of the US will never allow this great evil called "regulation" that you suggest!

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FlyingSock on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:04PM

            by FlyingSock (4339) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:04PM (#158960)

            I don't know if this should be modded insightful or funny...

    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by jrial on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:04PM

      by jrial (5162) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:04PM (#158828)

      Don't know if I agree. At first glance, yes, it does seem more fair: the more you make, the less you feel the sting of a traffic ticket. This negates the deterrent effect of the fine for the wealthier among us, but even the "cheaper" tickets can be quite a sum to the less affluent.

      On the other hand, shouldn't this then apply to everything? I mean, shouldn't that $600 widescreen then be like $200 to someone making 1/3 of my wage and $6000 to someone making ten times as much as me? The world doesn't work that way: what you can afford is directly related to your income. Can't afford something? => don't buy it or look for cheaper alternatives.

      This applies to speeding tickets as well: can't afford to pay one? Don't speed.

      Of course, some fines are just plain unfair. E.g. temporarily obstructed signage which must still be obeyed etc... These are still a burden for someone who barely manages to scrape by, but that's another problem which can be solved without linking fines to income.

      Personally, I think the points system used in some European countries is a better solution. You start with X amount of "points" on your driver's license. Every traffic violation costs you n amount of points, depending on the severity. Lost points recover slowly with time, but when your points run out, you lose your license. I assume the next step is to retake the exam and get a new one, not sure. My country prefers to have offenses to their traffic laws settled in cash rather than points. ;)

      --
      Install windows on my workstation? You crazy? Got any idea how much I paid for the damn thing?
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:12PM (#158830)

        shouldn't that $600 widescreen then be like $200 to someone making 1/3 of my wage and $6000 to someone making ten times as much as me?

        I don't care if Richie Rich buys a toilet made out of solid gold, but I do care if he runs someone over because he didn't follow traffic rules.

        • (Score: 1) by jrial on Monday March 23 2015, @02:17PM

          by jrial (5162) on Monday March 23 2015, @02:17PM (#161471)

          Most people who regularly speed, myself included, only do it in places where it's safe to do so. If I'm on an empty road with clear vision, and the speed limit is ridiculously low, I'll go between 10-30 km/h over the limit. On highways, I usually only go 6km/h over the limit (that's slightly below the margin in my country where you're actually fined), because it's not always easy to see where the police are hiding. But in front of a school, or in a town centre with foot/bike traffic, I stick to the limit. Why? Because I interpret the speed limit laws according to the spirit of the law, not the wording: they were introduced to promote safety, and as long as I'm driving safely (only accidents I seem to get are silly things like bumping into something while backing out of a parking lot), I'm doing fine.

          Speeding is not the same as carelessly running over people; speeding is driving faster than what the signs next to the road urge you to. I wish for once, we could have the "speeding" discussion without half the participants going all hyperbole and equate 10km/h over the speed limit on empty roads with intentionally running over little kids, puppies and kittens.

          --
          Install windows on my workstation? You crazy? Got any idea how much I paid for the damn thing?
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:26PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:26PM (#158834)

        ... don't buy it or look for cheaper alternatives.

        This applies to speeding tickets as well: can't afford to pay one? Don't speed.

        So are you saying that if you can afford to pay a ticket, go ahead and speed? That doesn't seem right.

        That's the difference between legal punishments for crimes, and the purchase of a material good: The idea of laws is that they're not supposed to change just because you are richer. The rule is not supposed to be "Pay us €150 and you can go as fast as you like" but "Don't drive faster than 50 km/hr down this road". The fine is not buying your indulgence, it's creating an incentive to obey the rule and not speed.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:02PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:02PM (#158844)

          The idea of laws is that they're not supposed to change just because you are richer.

          Where have you been? Where do you live that laws are applied equally to rich and poor?

          • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:56PM

            by fritsd (4586) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:56PM (#158891) Journal

            Maybe Thexalon is from Suomi :-)

            • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:26PM

              by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:26PM (#158945)

              I wish I was - instead I have to put up with the craziness in the United States when I'd much rather be lounging in a sauna. Also, I'm terrible at learning languages, so alas Finland is not really in my future.

              --
              The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @07:33AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @07:33AM (#159270)

                Well, you can still get a sauna, though, if you have your own house.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 18 2015, @01:52AM

            by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday March 18 2015, @01:52AM (#159159) Journal

            “The law in its infinite majesty, forbids rich & poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in streets & to steal their bread” Anatole France

            --
            You are currently banned from moderating. The last day of your ban is 2022-03-25.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:30PM (#158837)

        Power means immunity from consequences. The more power someone has the greater the consequences they can ignore.
        Scaling punishments by the amount of money a person normally spends is a way to scale the consequences to match the amount of power a person has.

        It isn't perfect, because the powerful can still lawyer their way out of convictions. But its a start.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:54PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:54PM (#158889)

          Power means immunity from consequences. The more power someone has the greater the consequences they can ignore.

          It does tend to mean that, but it should be the other way around: The more power somebody has, the higher a standard they should be held to.

          The reason is very simple: The consequences of a powerful person screwing up are much greater than the consequences of a powerless person screwing up. For example, when an impoverished garment worker in Bangladesh screws up, the only consequence is that the seam on your pants unravels faster than it otherwise would have. Whereas when Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld screws up, the global economy can crash causing huge amounts of misery everywhere in the world. And when the President of the United States screws up, thousands of people die.

          I want anyone with power to be very uncomfortable most of the time. I want them to be nervous that the slightest mistake could end their careers. That's how we'll get leaders that are careful rather than indulgent with power.

          --
          The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
          • (Score: 2) by moondrake on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:18PM

            by moondrake (2658) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:18PM (#158905)

            I tend to agree, but I believe such system is impossible. First of all, powerful people will use their power to secure their position, even in the case where they screw up.

            Secondly, if we were to instate such a system, why would anyone want to have (acknowledged) power? If be far more appealing to most people to be in a position that is not seen as powerful, as it would offer more security.

            It is possible to give money to counter-balance this, but they would just use the money to escape from the negative consequences that you impose on powerful people screwing up.

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:18PM

              by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:18PM (#158944)

              I've always thought the best extrinsic motivation we could give more powerful people was getting laid more often and by more people. That's a lot less harmful than giving them more money, and is still a very strong motivator. And when you look at politicians that were heavily motivated by getting laid, they on the whole did at least as good a job as anyone else who's tried it.

              However, one of the major problems of political science is that anyone who actually wants to be powerful is typically going to be a bad person to entrust with power. The leaders you want do it out of a sense of obligation towards whatever group they're leading. You can tell who these people are because when given power, they take it upon themselves to take more responsibility for what's going on in an organization rather than less responsibility. For people at the pinnacle of power, the best ones believe in "The buck stops here" (and yes, in my view and the view of historian surveys, Harry Truman falls into the category of one of the best ones). Of course, once bad folks know that's the path to power, they do their best to fake it, but there's a way around that, namely checking with the people they're supposed to be leading to see if they are in fact leading.

              --
              The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:00PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:00PM (#158929)

            Sure, but I'm not describing the way it ought to work. I'm describing what power actually means. Immunity from consequences is the function of power.

            I don't just mean criminal consequences. I mean in all things. For example: A rich person has a failed business, no big deal. An average person has a failed business, they might lose their house. A rich person contracts hep C, they can afford the $90,000 cure. A poor person contracts hep C, they just have to live with it for the rest of their life.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Daiv on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:40PM

        by Daiv (3940) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:40PM (#158838)

        The US driving point system is supposed to work the same way as the European system you describe. http://www.dmv.org/point-system.php [dmv.org] Points are assigned for moving violations based on states rules. The more points you accumulate, the more expensive the penalties for new tickets and the more expensive insurance becomes. After enough points, a drivers license is suspended/revoked.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nuke on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:28PM

        by Nuke (3162) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:28PM (#158855)

        Personally, I think the points system used in some European countries is a better solution. ...... Every traffic violation costs you n amount of points .... when your points run out, you lose your license.

        That is more-or-less how it is in the UK, so persistent offenders lose their licence for a period like 3 or 6 months. They are fined as well. They also may be required to attend a safety course, and in some cases re-take the driving test. As the driving test is pretty easy for any experienced driver, a re-take is usually only called for if the culprit is obviously incompetent, or going senile or blind.

        Fines are generally low (typically less than an average day's salary) and people are far more concerned about losing their licence. You will hear people say "I am keeping to the speed limits at the moment because I am nearly out of licence points."

        • (Score: 2) by tonyPick on Wednesday March 18 2015, @08:29AM

          by tonyPick (1237) on Wednesday March 18 2015, @08:29AM (#159290) Homepage Journal

          Of course, one problem with the UK system is that there's actually a fair amount of discretion left up on the sentencing side, so the revocation of the license isn't as automatic as some people assume: the drivers can claim "exceptional hardship" would result from the loss of a license, and there's no strict definition of what that is (AIUI):

          From http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25626147 [bbc.co.uk]

          Almost 7,300 motorists with 12 points or more on their licences have not been banned from driving, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has claimed.

          Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) latest figures show a man from Liverpool is driving with 45 penalty points on his licence, the IAM said.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:06PM (#158933)

        This applies to speeding tickets as well: can't afford to pay one? Don't speed.

        Bwahaha! Driving the speed limit is no defense against a ticket. Not when officer performance reviews are based on revenue or traffic detail is a punishment (non-quota quota), you're the wrong color, look 25 or younger (too young to have resources/power) or are driving a hot rod/sports car.

        Today you face additional risk. 'Probable cause' dogs/the officer smelled drugs/there was drug 'shake' in the car (thus no evidence in court) so we're seizing your property, sign this document turning it over to us or be arrested, have your car impounded and your kids turned over to CPS (some 'speed trap' towns switched to this method).

        This is 'monetization' pure and simple, dressed up in a class warefare costume.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:26PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:26PM (#158971) Homepage

        Driving on highways in America we have two often-contradictory rules - Drive the speed-limit, but also follow the flow of traffic.

        With regards to police, we are becoming less and less about public safety and more about revenue collection.

        So an employee who needs a car to get to his job because public transit is shit (as in San Diego, where I live*) has to become caught-up in that rat-race, and speeding tickets are hundreds of dollars in fines. For many people who live paycheck-to-paycheck, that is a significant problem.

        * No smartasses had better tell me that San Diego has good public transporation. San Diego has good public transportation if you want to go to Tijuana from Downtown. All of the affordable housing is in the mid-city area, El Cajon, and the South Bay. All of the good jobs are in North County. Do the math.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday March 17 2015, @08:41PM

        by sjames (2882) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @08:41PM (#159059) Journal

        If a flatscreen TV was required to be in compliance with the law, it might be necessary to legislate it's price to a fixed percentage of discretionary income.

        Theoretically, the ticket is a punishment to deter unlawful behavior. Not restitution for damages and not funding for the police department. As such, the pain needs to be equal for everyone who breaks the law. By not doing that you are for all practical purposes declaring the wealthy to be exempt from traffic law.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:17PM (#158849)

      Can we invite the Finns to come run America for a decade and make the place reasonable, fair, and consistent?

      We did, but the one we invited says he doesn't care about any of us, he just cares about code quality.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:11PM (#159108)

        Jill Stein's running mate for the 2012 Presidential race is listed among Finnish-Americans. [wikipedia.org]
        The ancestry of Cheri Honkala [wikipedia.org] is Finnish on her Dad's side.
        Sadly, unlike me, few of you voted for that ticket. [wikipedia.org]

        .
        There are 2 more Finnish Americans listed among Business leaders. [wikipedia.org]
        Unfortunately, those are the CEOs of GM & Yahoo.
        (While both are chicks, they both have traditional anti-labor attitudes.)

        -- gewg_

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @09:25AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @09:25AM (#159296)

          gewg_, you will get your beloved hyperinflation soon enough

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:47AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:47AM (#158826)

    I'm sure nobody here has heard of red light and speed cameras that were rigged.

    In my area officers are known for running 'aggressive' traffic enforcement campaigns, and more frequently whenever there is a gov't budget shortfall. The complaints I was aware of alleged that whenever an officer finished writing a citation the next car driving by was pulled over for a citation.

    Once I'd heard about that practice, I started recording video with my cell phone held to my chest so it could see my speedometer and out the front window whenever I drove through an area I'd seen them before. I driving 40 in a 40 when I was pulled over for a 51 in a 40 citation. But for video... My car now has a permanently installed dash cam.

    This kind of law makes enforcement fraud so profitable it invites abuse.

    • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:36PM

      by Nuke (3162) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:36PM (#158860)

      I'll not deny what you say about wherever you live, but around where I live (UK) the police would never have any need to make anything up. Disobediance of traffic laws is seen wherever you look - exceeding speed limits, phoning while driving, jumping red lights, parking on yellow lines and pavements (US sidewalks), cars using bus lanes. One policeman could stand anywhere in town and have all his time taken up with charging people with genuine offences. Yet I am told, looking world-wide, that UK drivers are among the better behaved.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by moondrake on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:03PM

      by moondrake (2658) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:03PM (#158896)

      I saw this point make several times here and also on the green site. I do not think it is valid in Finland, so perhaps it is a US thing: do traffic fines go into a local government's (or law enforcement) bank account? If so, than this is the problem and not the scaling of fines to income.

      As far as I am aware, in most EU countries, the state (or a state institution) will collect the fines, not the local department. Even although some countries may wish for more money, some local officers going on a aggressive traffic campaign is going to be insignificant for the total budget. And that is assuming you can get the local officers interested in the state of the countries finances (of course they will indirect be dependent on it, but the countries are large enough for this not to matter).

      That said, aggressive officers that only target rich people would be a welcome change.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by M. Baranczak on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:13PM

        by M. Baranczak (1673) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:13PM (#158940)

        I do not think it is valid in Finland, so perhaps it is a US thing: do traffic fines go into a local government's (or law enforcement) bank account?

        Yes, it is a US thing, and it's a huge problem. Local governments have a lot more autonomy here than in Europe, and this is one of the unfortunate side effects. This is why the Finnish system wouldn't work in the US.

        Putting fines into a state-wide pool would fix the problem, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. Some cities (maybe most) would wind up getting less money under the new scheme, and that revenue would have to be made up elsewhere. No politician wants to deal with that.

    • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:06PM

      by Gravis (4596) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:06PM (#158934)

      Policing for profit is ripe for abuse

      "Proportional fines are not a means of revenue, where did you get that stupid idea from? Fines are punishments. As such, if the punishment doesn't reach even 1% of the money you earn in a day, you can effectively ignore them always, and in the process possibly endanger others. The proportionality of the system is to level the playing field, but that is clearly communism and can't be had in the united states of money."

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @06:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @06:00PM (#158990)

      > This kind of law makes enforcement fraud so profitable it invites abuse.

      Actually, you've got it completely backwards. Schemes like this reduce the incentive for abuse.

      The group of people most able to change public policy are the rich and powerful. If you piss them off they are much more likely to try to change public policy because they've experienced the unfairness of it themselves. That is one of the main reasons the TSA's precheck [tsa.gov] program that lets people pay a couple of hundred dollars to avoid much of the hassle the TSA creates is a bad idea. It makes the people most likely to reign in the TSA nearly immune to the TSA's abuse. I'll bet 20:1 odds that every member of congress has signed up for TSA precheck.

      Same thing in this case - policing fines that the rich can shrug off without a thought means they won't notice if that policing is abusive or not. Thus the abuse falls mainly on the poor and disempowered (c.f. the DoJ's report on abusive fines disproportionately affecting the poor in Ferguson, which by the way is not at all limited to Ferguson). If you want to reduce policing for profit, make sure the powerful people feel the brunt of it as much as the common man does.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Marneus68 on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:56AM

    by Marneus68 (3572) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:56AM (#158827) Homepage

    I can't wait to see "sane" and "rational" proposal from the usual righteous social justice supporters to level the fines according to the skin color, ethnicity and "privilege" level, whatever that's supposed to mean.

    Surely I can't be the only one to see the inherent problem of having this kind of system where the fine isn't calculated according the to possible damages caused to society by the offense. On top of that, what happens for really poor offenders who will inevitably be repeatedly fined, can they get away with it?

    Reckless driving can potentially kill anyone, regardless of the size of your bank account, and as a reckless driver, you pose the same threat to everyone else, I don't see why anything else should be taken into account than the threat to society/other individuals. However I think it should be sane to have laws to threat the repeated offenders, even for infractions. I don't know if you have laws like that in America, but that sounds like something I'd rather have implemented in my country.

    Also, check your sources, we don't have that bullshit in France.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:05PM (#158829)

      " what happens for really poor offenders who will inevitably be repeatedly fined, can they get away with it?"
      Minimum penalty.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by urza9814 on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:27PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:27PM (#158835) Journal

      Surely I can't be the only one to see the inherent problem of having this kind of system where the fine isn't calculated according the to possible damages caused to society by the offense.

      That depends on how you look at it. Another way would be to say that the damage done *to the perpetrator* is calculated according to the damages caused to society. But particularly for something like speeding, *that's the only reasonable choice*. It's not restitution, it's a deterrent. When you give someone a speeding ticket, they haven't harmed anyone by speeding. If they had, you'd be writing a different kind of citation. If you want it to have a deterrent effect, it has to have some noticable harm to the "criminal". Right now there are entire classes of people in our country who can freely ignore these kinds of citations.

      On top of that, what happens for really poor offenders who will inevitably be repeatedly fined, can they get away with it?

      Uh, the fines are higher now, so it's even more likely that they can't pay it. So what do we do in that situation right now? Keep in mind that it's *illegal* to imprison someone solely because they can't pay a debt.

      Reckless driving can potentially kill anyone, regardless of the size of your bank account, and as a reckless driver, you pose the same threat to everyone else

      EXACTLY. That's EXACTLY the point of this kind of system. Speeding tickets around here are usually around $200. I can afford that about few months, so when I get a ticket, I slow down for a couple months. Someone with a lower income maybe can't afford that at all, so they'll drive carefully all the time. But Bill Gates has no reason not to put the pedal to the floor and peel out right in front of the police officer five seconds after getting one. Reckless driving can kill anyone, and you shouldn't be immune to the punishment just because you're wealthy.

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:11PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:11PM (#158848)

        But Bill Gates has no reason not to put the pedal to the floor and peel out right in front of the police officer five seconds after getting one.

        Fines aren't the only recourse that cops have in cases of really reckless driving, as Bill Gates experienced first-hand [wikimedia.org].

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by schad on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:17PM

        by schad (2398) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:17PM (#158850)

        If speeding is so dangerous, then you should go to jail for speeding. That's what we do to people who recklessly endanger the lives of others. If you don't think that jail is an appropriate punishment for speeding, then you're tacitly admitting that speeding does not -- at least not necessarily -- endanger the lives of others. If that's the case, then fines aren't appropriate either. If going 75mph on a stretch of road doesn't endanger anyone, then why the hell would it be illegal at all?

        You're trying to have it both ways, possibly because you like the idea of collecting revenue from rich assholes. Stick to using the tax code for revenue. As far as I'm concerned, if we simply must have fines, money collected that way should be put in a pile and burned. That way nobody has an incentive to interpret the law more or less generously than is appropriate.

        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:34PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:34PM (#158859) Journal

          If speeding is so dangerous, then you should go to jail for speeding. That's what we do to people who recklessly endanger the lives of others. If you don't think that jail is an appropriate punishment for speeding, then you're tacitly admitting that speeding does not -- at least not necessarily -- endanger the lives of others. If that's the case, then fines aren't appropriate either. If going 75mph on a stretch of road doesn't endanger anyone, then why the hell would it be illegal at all?

          I agree with you 100%. I DON'T think there should be fines for that. I was just pointing out the flaw in the parent's logic :)

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Nuke on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:10PM

          by Nuke (3162) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:10PM (#158870)

          If speeding is so dangerous, then you should go to jail for speeding.

          Wrong premise. It is all a matter of degree. In the UK some bad speeding cases do end up with jail, milder cases are just fined.

          If going 75mph on a stretch of road doesn't endanger anyone, then why the hell would it be illegal at all?

          And you are nominating yourself (and every Tom Dick and Harry who comes along) as the judge of whether the road is safe for 75 mph, even if they don't know the road? The idea of speed limits is that a traffic expert who knows the locality makes the judgement. I say the "idea" but admit that the expertise is often questionable. Better though than maybe total strangers, unaware of property exits etc, making the judgment.

          Nevertheless, speed limits are not just about danger. Another reason is traffic capacity. At busy times there is are temporary speed limits on the M25 (motorway ring around London) for example, in order to increase its capacity. For another example, every day I am held up for five minutes at a T-junction by the traffic in front hesitating to pull out because cars along the main road are doing more (typically 40-50mph) than the 30mph limit. If those cars were doing 30 as they should, there would be a lower realtive speed between the main road traffic and the traffic emerging into it, so emerging would be easier with less hold up. I must admit I have no qualms about making the buggers slow down by pulling out.

          If there is a speed limit, drivers ought to be able to assume that other drivers are keeping to it; things would then run more smoothly all round.

          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by schad on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:49PM

            by schad (2398) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:49PM (#158920)

            Wrong premise. It is all a matter of degree. In the UK some bad speeding cases do end up with jail, milder cases are just fined.

            More formally, this is my argument:

            1. Speeding is dangerous.
            2. Dangerous behavior should result in jail time (subject to a laundry list of exceptions that boil down to "reasonableness").
            3. Similar behavior should be punished and/or deterred similarly.

            Therefore, all speeding should result in jail time (though not necessarily of the same duration).

            This is an argumentum ad absurdum: the conclusion is ridiculous, but follows inescapably from the premises, and so one or more of the premises must be incorrect. The conclusion I want people to reach is that (1) is false: that a great deal of what is currently defined as "speeding" is not, in fact, dangerous at all. This is a point you make yourself:

            Nevertheless, speed limits are not just about danger. Another reason is traffic capacity.

            In which case fines are at least potentially appropriate, though you'd still want to destroy the money to avoid creating incentives. The trouble is that many people -- especially those whose livelihoods depend, in one way or another, on writing speeding tickets; like politicians and police officers -- deliberately conflate "traffic control" with "traffic safety." It's not that traffic control isn't a worthy goal. It's that traffic safety rules must not be violated, whereas traffic control rules should not be violated. If you deliberately blur the distinction between the two, all your incentives and deterrents stop working correctly. The vast majority of speed limits are set for non-safety reasons; things like noise control, traffic flow, and so on. Again, worthy goals. But people learn that those limits can be safely (and I use that word deliberately and literally) ignored. It's a small step from there to assume that all speed limits are the same way.

            So even if I stipulate to the worthiness of all these goals, the current regime of predominantly-fines is ineffective at achieving them.

            And you are nominating yourself (and every Tom Dick and Harry who comes along) as the judge of whether the road is safe for 75 mph, even if they don't know the road?

            No. That's a job for the police. They already do it today in the US, and presumably in the UK and everywhere else too: you can be pulled over, ticketed, and even jailed for reckless driving, no matter how fast or slow you're going. It's a whole lot easier just to zap someone with a radar gun and write them a ticket for going 60 in a 55, though, so that's usually what's done.

            • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Tuesday March 17 2015, @09:16PM

              More formally, this is my argument:

              1. Speeding is dangerous.
              2. Dangerous behavior should result in jail time (subject to a laundry list of exceptions that boil down to "reasonableness").
              3. Similar behavior should be punished and/or deterred similarly.

              Therefore, all speeding should result in jail time (though not necessarily of the same duration).

              This is an argumentum ad absurdum: the conclusion is ridiculous, but follows inescapably from the premises, and so one or more of the premises must be incorrect. The conclusion I want people to reach is that (1) is false: that a great deal of what is currently defined as "speeding" is not, in fact, dangerous at all. This is a point you make yourself:

              Your 'argumentum ad absurdum' isn't a very good one. I posit that (1) is false, as it should read "Speeding can be dangerous" and that (2) is an attempt at a false equvalence. If I stick my hand in a hot oven to retrieve an item without an oven mitt, that's dangerous. Should I go to jail?

              If I go skydiving, should I be jailed? How about unprotected sex with a stranger?

              Premise (3) is actually pretty good. What is lacking there is that it should read "Similar behavior should be punished and/or deterred via means that have a similar effect."

              Without that last bit, you ignore the reasoning behind fines for traffic infractions. Which is to deter that sort of behavior because it increases the risk of damage/injury/death to the perpetrator and others.

              In order to have a deterrent effect, such fines must be inconvenient at the least. Depending upon the resources available to a particular offender, what is inconvenient/unpleasant/an actual deterrent varies significantly.

              That I have to state that explicitly is kind of ridiculous, since that should obvious to any adult who isn't brain damaged or otherwise impaired.

              So. you're obviously brain damaged, drunk/high, trolling, or some combination thereof. If you're trolling, I apologize to the SN community for feeding you.

              Otherwise, I suggest you seek professional help.

              --
              No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
              • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:11AM

                by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:11AM (#159166) Journal

                It is not that it is not a very good reductio ad absurdum, it is that the poster has no idea what a reductio is.

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        • (Score: 1) by kryptonianjorel on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:12PM

          by kryptonianjorel (4640) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:12PM (#158901)

          People shouldn't be allowed to have guns either. We all know that guns kill people, and people having them increases the risk that people will be shot and killed. So if you don't think gun owners should be in jail, you're stupid

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:30PM (#158856)

        EXACTLY. That's EXACTLY the point of this kind of system.

        Then if it is reckless then you could have some sort of point system. Then they take your car away. OH WAIT... That is what they do already.

        This is nothing more than a money grab. 1 'rich guy' can take care of the department budget of the work of doing 250 speeding tickets. Yeah that will make the roads safer /sarc... The police will make it so the system is applied decently and fairly. Oh its not.

        Also do not think for a second the 'rich' will take it lying down. They will twist the system. They have the money and influence that it bought to make sure they are taken care of.

        The proper way to take care of people who speed is to make it wildly inconvenient for them to take care of. The behavior takes care of itself after that. It is what finally got my wife to stop doing 10-15 over the speed limit everywhere. Not because I couldnt yell at here or the money was too much (it was for her income level). It was spending 4-5 hours taking care of 1 ticket. Once I pointed out that 4-5 hours and basically day off work of time if she was at work would take care of the fine. She realized the ticket was costing her a lot more than 150-200 bucks. It was costing her money, vacation time, and time itself.

        Just require that the person who gets the ticket to stand in line to take care of the ticket. Then make sure the line is understaffed. Oh and they take a 1 hour lunch *always*. By default you have taken speeders off the road for that period. Put up signs saying 'sucks to wait? dont speed'.

      • (Score: 2) by jasassin on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:02PM

        by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:02PM (#159105) Journal

        Uh, the fines are higher now, so it's even more likely that they can't pay it. So what do we do in that situation right now? Keep in mind that it's *illegal* to imprison someone solely because they can't pay a debt.

        If you do not pay a fine, you better bet your ass a bench warrant will be issued and you will be incarcerated. If you can't pay the fine, then you'll do the time (each day incarcerated equates to so many dollars paid).

        Either way, if its a fine or a debt I wanted to remind everyone they can do anything they want. They can imprison anyone (yes even US citizens) indefinitely without a trial. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indefinite_detention_without_trial [wikipedia.org]

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    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:53PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @12:53PM (#158842)

      It all depends on what the intent is of the fine.

      • If the intent is to cover damages to society. Then you can't really set a fixed fine amount since in many instances there may be no damages at all, while in some instances where someone becomes gravely injured or even died as a result of the transgression, the damages will be extremely high. People could speed all they want and only get in trouble once an accident happens. In that case, the damages may be so high that the individual may not even be able to pay for all the damage, but the deed has been done and cannot be reversed. Linking fines to damages for these reasons doesn't make much sense.
      • More likely, the intent of most fines is as a deterrent to prevent people from committing the undesirable acts in the first place. Damages is then considered a separate concept and is determined and charged separately from the fine, when appropriate. For the fine to serve as a deterrent, it needs to be suitably high that depriving the fined amount causes the individual enough inconvenience/suffering to avoid committing the offense in the first place. If the fine is so low that it's barely noticeable on your bank balance, it will not have the desired deterrent effect. From this perspective, an income based fine makes sense, even though it can be argued to be less fair towards higher earners.
      • If the intent of the fine is revenue generation, then you have bigger problems...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:58PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:58PM (#158864)

        A third point on how a non-means tested system works, is more like insurance premium? Everyone pays a little, high users/risk takers simply pay more. Not to say income tested govt fees shouldn't apply. Revenue raising is a whole other issue, but consider that rich party with the big fine, would bother to pay lawyer, who more diligently (paid to) seeks reasons for dissmissal. Surely that raises chance money grabbing arrangement is found out.

    • (Score: 1) by Dogeball on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:20PM

      by Dogeball (814) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:20PM (#158851)

      what happens for really poor offenders who will inevitably be repeatedly fined, can they get away with it?

      Firstly, the poorer you are, the higher the percentage of your income running a car will cost you; if you're really poor, you will not be able to afford a car.

      Secondly, if you have, lets say, $10 to spend each day (based on $3652.50 yearly income), (10/2)*12 = $60 fine, which is still a normal sized fine in any part of the world I've been to.

      Your suggestion of increasing fines for repeat offenders has some merit, but in itself doesn't solve the problem of wealthy people being able to ignore laws designed to curb unsafe behaviour, until they are caught a large number of times.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:34PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @03:34PM (#158915) Journal

      I can't wait to see "sane" and "rational" proposal from the usual righteous social justice supporters to level the fines according to the skin color, ethnicity and "privilege" level, whatever that's supposed to mean.
       
      Nice strawman. Back here in reality the proposal has already been made: some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings
       
      Maybe you should debate the idea under discussion instead of inventing one that is easy to defeat. That would be harder though...

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:52PM (#158987)

      Reckless driving can potentially kill anyone?

      I have been driving for the last 40 years, big cities and small, different states across the US. I have seen very little evidence of actual "Reckless" driving. Speeding yes. There where a few times someone flew by me doing twice the speed limit, but not most of the time. I agree that reckless driving should be punished, but speeding does not equal reckless.

      if you are standing in the road, and I hit you at 35mph, would it make a difference if I hit you going 36mph. Not for the most part, how about 40mph or 50mph? Chances are if I hit you with a 2000lb car at 35mph you will be dead. I would rather have people on the road speeding than constantly looking at their dashboards to make sure the are right on the speed limit and not going over, especially in a school zone.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:24AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:24AM (#159171)

        I have been driving for the last 40 years,

        So, about time for that "special" driver's test? You know, ability to judge speed is one of the first things to go.

        if you are standing in the road, and I hit you at 35mph, would it make a difference if I hit you going 36mph. Not for the most part, how about 40mph or 50mph? Chances are if I hit you with a 2000lb car at 35mph you will be dead.

        Why would I be standing in the road? And more to the point, why would you hit me? And now for the biggie: the force of impact has, as you have correctly stated, almost nothing to do with the harm. (Maybe something to do with condition of organs for transplant?) But here is the point: braking distance and reaction times reduce with the inverse square of the velocity of the vehicle. You probably didn't mean to hit me at 35 mph, but you did because you didn't see me in time, and were sliding with all tires locked (Isn't ABS nice?) trying to stop from 50 mph. So you are wrong, speeding does equal recklessness. That is why we call it "speeding" and not "appropriate vehicular velocity".

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 18 2015, @04:18AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 18 2015, @04:18AM (#159196) Homepage

        I've been driving for the past 41 years myself, 28 years of that in Los Angeles and the rest all across the western U.S. And I agree -- reckless driving is extremely rare in the U.S.

        Then I watch Russian dashcam videos, and wonder how any Russians survive long enough to reproduce. I've *never* seen that kind of just plain *oblivious* driving here, not even in the bowels of Los Angeles on a holiday night.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:40PM (#159119)

      Yet more from the outrage industry. You've never encountered anything that you can't link to something that offends you, can you?

  • (Score: 1) by zraith on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:04PM

    by zraith (112) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:04PM (#158846)

    So if I were unemployed and I received a speeding ticket, does this mean the fine is some percentage of my 0$ income? To which end, I could spend my days speeding recklessly through town? :)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:23PM (#158852)

      It's in Finland; or more general in Europe. Just because your out of work doesn't mean your income is reduced to 0€.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by tibman on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:23PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 17 2015, @01:23PM (#158853)

      If you are unemployed they they first start by paying your fine with fuel siphoned from your car. Then they begin removing parts of the car.

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    • (Score: 2, Funny) by inertnet on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:03PM

      by inertnet (4071) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:03PM (#158931)

      It's much better to have a negative income and receive money for speeding.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:01PM (#158865)

    Perhaps healthy people should spend more time in jail for crimes than sick people, since it would be a larger percentage of their life.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:32PM (#158881)

      Which happens all the time in the US. The very sick can be and often are released for humanitarian reasons.

      It's almost as if we as a society want a sense of fairness in how we deal with each other. What a strange concept. Where's the money in it?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:05PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:05PM (#158932)

        > The very sick can be and often are released for humanitarian reasons.

        That's the theory behind the process.

        The reality is when someone is very sick, they are released so that the state will no longer be responsible for their medical care. The privatization of prisons has exacerbated the problem since the cost of that medical care usually comes out of company profits.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @04:51PM (#158957)

        To me this seems grossly unfair. To you it seems fair. It's almost as if we had different value systems.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:30PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @02:30PM (#158880)

    Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates.

    From what I understand, Jobs was not breaking the law when he drove without license plates, but he was exploiting a loophole for newly registered cars.

    (He did however violate the law, and good judgement, when parking in the handicapped spots in front of the Apple building. He should have just asked for his own dedicated parking spot close to the entrance instead.)

    • (Score: 2) by nukkel on Tuesday March 17 2015, @08:10PM

      by nukkel (168) on Tuesday March 17 2015, @08:10PM (#159047)

      Everyone wanted to work for Steve Jobs.
      Except his pancreas ...