Slash Boxes

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:09AM   Printer-friendly
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."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (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.

    Starting Score:    0  points
    Moderation   +5  
       Insightful=5, Total=5
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (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?