Traffic fines based on wealth


/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
My friends and I had a discussion about this yesterday. I must admit that the first time I was told about the difference of fines according to wealth, I was shocked. But after looking at it more closely, it does make sense in a way to do it because the richer one is, the less a "fine" would feel like a "fine" and therefore those who have means tend to just disregard the law (and it's very dangerous because violations could lead to mortal accidents) if they feel like they're just going to pay 10 cents, in exchange of the thrill.

Do you find any sense with this or do you think it's just one of the ways the rich are treated unfairly?

Europe slaps rich with bigger traffic fines

$290,000 speeding ticket in Switzerland gets the attention of drivers

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

Advocates say a $290,000 speeding ticket slapped on a millionaire Ferrari driver in Switzerland was a fair and well-deserved example of the trend.

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 fine to speeding drivers, with the current record believed to be a $190,000 ticket in 2004.

The Swiss court appeared to set a world record when it levied the fine in November on a man identified in the Swiss media only as "Roland S." Judges in the eastern canton of St. Gallen described him as a "traffic thug" in their verdict, which only recently came to light.

"As far as we're concerned this is very good," Sabine Jurisch, a road safety campaigner with the Swiss group Road Cross.

Swiss changed law in 2007

She said rich drivers were lightly punished until Swiss voters approved a 2007 law overhaul that let judges hand down fines based on personal income and wealth for moderate misdemeanors including excessive speeding and drunk driving. Before, they had to assign relatively small fixed penalties or — rarely — a few days in prison.

The fines were traditionally insignificant for rich people, and in the rare cases where prison terms for small-time offenders were handed down, they were usually suspended anyway. And even when they were sent to jail, the deterrent was limited compared with the costs of incarceration borne by the taxpayers, officials said.

"It wasn't about making the punishment harsher or lighter, but more sensible," Heinz Sutter, an official at the Swiss Justice Ministry, told The Associated Press.

In the latest Swiss case, the court took into account the man's history of similar offenses, the high speed with which he drove through a small village (60 miles an hour, nearly twice the 30 mph), and his estimated personal wealth of over $20 million.

"The accused unscrupulously and without obvious reason, probably out of pure desire for speed, used a powerful vehicle to break elementary traffic rules," the court said, noting that the man could have risked the lives of pedestrians and other drivers.

Thomas Hansjakob, a prosecutor in the nearby city of St. Gallen, said the average driver is likely to get a more modest fine of several thousand dollars.

'Wealthy foreigners' a problem

"I think the man in the pub will get that this guy is only paying so much because he's rich, so it won't necessarily scare off others," he said. "But this is a signal for other rich people. We've had a real problem with wealthy foreigners hiring cars and conducting races on Swiss roads."

Last year a court sentenced six men from Hong Kong to fines of up to 95,000 francs after the men buzzed through Switzerland in hired Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Audis at speeds of up to 142 miles an hour.

In a separate case, a Frenchman was fined 70,000 francs after being caught on a highway doing 151 miles an hour.

Switzerland's Association for Transport Psychology wants authorities to place more emphasis on compulsory courses for speeders and regular reviews of their fitness to drive.

"Our view is that ordering the drivers to take part in therapy sessions is much more effective than simply making them open their wallets," Andreas Widmer, the association's president, said.

And the nationalist Swiss People's Party wants to reverse the 2007 penal code changes, allowing judges to once again impose short prison sentences for lesser infractions, said one of its lawmakers, Luzi Stamm.

The current law could lead to "ridiculously low" penalties without any possibility of jail time for poor people who are caught driving drunk or speeding excessively, Stamm told the AP.
URL: Europe slaps rich with bigger traffic fines - Europe-


Creeping On You
I think that its a good idea. Here in manitoba I've seen wealthier individuals carelessly speed because the fines are affordable to pay. If the fines related to income the wealthy people would get a fair ticket and unwealthy, one moment of mistake people wouldn't get poorer just because of one error in judgement.
What if you don't have any wealth, that you live off the government? Free pass? haha =D

Um... as for this whole idea I completely disagree. Well, for one, it's speeding! $2oo,ooo+ ticket JUST for speeding? And, I use "JUST" because there are many more important issues to worry about in the world then speeding, I believe. Not only that, but I smell a scam from the government implementing this idea to get more dough for their city aka themselves. I know, it's a conspiracy, but it's worth thinking about.

Also, what's from stopping the police from "happening" to pull over somebody who is with a lot of wealth? Yes, they just "happen" to pull over this rich fellow on their daily routine. Also, also, on top of that I don't trust the officers 100% on this. With the amount of people claiming here in the US that the ticket they got was BS it makes me wonder how many of those tickets were actually BS. I mean, $2oo,ooo to pull somebody over and give them a crock-of-bologna ticket isn't that unimaginable.


Certified Shitlord
Definitely not. Laws are made to be followed by all people and to be applied to all people fairly. It sounds like the typical "hate the wealthy" mentality a lot of people have these days.


Registered Member
While we're at it, why don't we make all fines scale according to wealth? For that matter, why don't we make the cost of groceries, or gas, or your heating bill scale? :rolleyes:


Certified Shitlord
While we're at it, why don't we make all fines scale according to wealth? For that matter, why don't we make the cost of groceries, or gas, or your heating bill scale? :rolleyes:
A lot of people would probably love that idea.


4 legs good 2 legs bad
I think it's a stupid idea. If wealthy people want to speed because they can afford it, they can risk having their license suspended. It's their choice.


Trust me, I'm The Doctor.
It's the same logic we use here in America when we want higher taxes on the rich because they can afford it.

It's not fair to them. As much as I'd like to see them taxed more.. it's just not feasable. Fairness should extend to all classes. They should be subject to the same fines as everyone else.


/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
What if you don't have any wealth, that you live off the government? Free pass? haha =D.
Ha, I asked the same thing. :lol: I think they put a cut off where for this amount of income you pay the basic fine. I yet have to see how they're really applying this. I didn't even know there were cases already here in France but I think it's more of a court judgement than an automatic fine you get billed.

While we're at it, why don't we make all fines scale according to wealth? For that matter, why don't we make the cost of groceries, or gas, or your heating bill scale? :rolleyes:
The latter won't follow the same principle. :dunno: One of the objectives of fines is to deter violations. The way it's linked to wealth is to make sure that the fines (though varied in amount) have more or less the same deterring effect on people. If you're extremely rich, paying 200 dollars is just like giving a tip. For middle income people, that's already a week's meal and thus it has a bigger consequence for them to get fined.

I think that's the loophole of fines - they're just financial punishments and when applied on a fixed rate, punishes people differently according to their financial situation. I think it'll be more efficient for traffic violations to have other consequences not related to fines, but say, points...that when you accumulate, will force you to go months of traffic school/courses and temporary removal of license.


Registered Member
Definitely not. Laws are made to be followed by all people and to be applied to all people fairly.
And HENCE pegging it to income and wealth. Its a fine, not a price tag! First and foremost its supposed to hurt, and to make it hurt you have to up it for wealthy people.