View Poll Results: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income one makes?

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Thread: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

  1. #61
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    "one is getting fined 0.5% of his income while the other is getting fined 0.05% of his income. Obviously the person being fined 0.5% of his income had a harsher penalty than the person being fined 0.05% of his income. "

    I'm honestly not seeing the mistake.


    $100 fine for person making 20K = 0.5%
    $100 fine for person making 200K = 0.05%

    A fine of 0.5% is harsher penalty than a fine of .05%.
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    The problem with fines is that for those with enough money to ignore them, they fail to act as a deterrent. However, speeding tickets also lead to license suspension, so I would say that income based fines aren't required.
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kal'Stang View Post
    I don't think that a suspension of a license is that much a detterent towards billionaires either. All they have to do is hire someone to drive them around.
    But then they're not driving any more, which is the optimal outcome. If they force their driver to speed, then the driver will lose his license as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    Not if you charged the same percentage. For example you make speeding 1% of income,so someone making 20,000 pays $200 and someone making $2,000,000 pays $20,000. We live in a country that has a graduated income tax system and as far as I know no judge has struck it down, so surely a flat percentage fine would be deemed constitutional even if some liberal jacked it up to a graduated percentage system.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dav View Post
    Income taxes are unconstitutional/illegal?
    Income taxes are constitutional because there is an amendment allowing for their imposition. Fines are punitive measures handed out by the courts. It's a lot more questionable to base the punitive punishment that people receive on an entirely unrelated factor. Unless there is some evidence that speeding is related to income, I don't think this would work.

    Quote Originally Posted by sazerac View Post
    The $6.00 speeding ticket my girlfriend's rich cousin in Costa Rica got meant nothing to him but a good laugh. It sure didn't slow him down!
    Does he live there? Do they have a point system?
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  3. #63
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    But then they're not driving any more, which is the optimal outcome. If they force their driver to speed, then the driver will lose his license as well.
    In which case they just hire another one.
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  4. #64
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dav View Post
    Income taxes are unconstitutional/illegal?
    No, but we have a constitutional amendment specifically allowing that.
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  5. #65
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    Not if you charged the same percentage. For example you make speeding 1% of income,so someone making 20,000 pays $200 and someone making $2,000,000 pays $20,000. We live in a country that has a graduated income tax system and as far as I know no judge has struck it down, so surely a flat percentage fine would be deemed constitutional even if some liberal jacked it up to a graduated percentage system.
    While I would be completely in favor of a fine as a percentage of income if it were legal...I'm not sure it's legally comparable to the graduated income tax. For one thing, the Constitution specifically authorizes an income tax. Another of the arguments in support of a graduated income tax is that the PEOPLE aren't being treated differently...just the INCOME over a certain amount is treated differently (e.g. Bill Gates pays the same percentage on his first $50K of income as I do). I'm not sure that's comparable to a fine for a traffic offense, as that would pretty clearly fall under the "equal protection under the law" category.

    But maybe I'm wrong about this...does anyone know if any US states have tried to fine people as a percentage of their income? I'd be interested to see if it could pass constitutional scrutiny.
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    Income taxes are constitutional because there is an amendment allowing for their imposition. Fines are punitive measures handed out by the courts. It's a lot more questionable to base the punitive punishment that people receive on an entirely unrelated factor. Unless there is some evidence that speeding is related to income, I don't think this would work.
    The fact that you would even say the bolded statement makes me wonder whether or not you even understand the argument.

    For one thing, it's not just speeding; the question is whether or not all fines should be like this.

    That's because income is not, as you said, an "unrelated factor". It is very relevant to what type of punishment you get for any sort of crime. Punishment should be the same for any crime regardless of wealth - and unless you base fines on income, that is not the case. See Tucker's post for an explanation of why. Rich people have to give less of what they have than poor people.


    As for the Constitutional argument - that argument, even if it were valid (and I'm not so sure that it is, considering that a fine could be considered a tax) applies to the Federal government. Speeding, as well as most things which you get a fine for, is not a Federal crime.

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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Income- or wealth-related fines are the most fair. The idea of a fine is that you have to suffer a certain amount of discomfort for transgressing the law. If the size of the fine is determined by your financial means the fine hits you equally hard whether you are rich or poor. This is the most fair system.

    And this is not cruel to the rich. All that is supposed is that they will receive the same punishment as everybody else. If they don't want to pay the fines they can just keep themselves within the limits of the law - simple as that.
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    We can't have millions of people driving around who are nonpunishable because of their wealth. People who get no incentive to drive safely from small dollar amount fines and penalties. Drivers have all assorted incomes so there must be a penalty based on their income. It must mean something to them.

  9. #69
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dav View Post
    The fact that you would even say the bolded statement makes me wonder whether or not you even understand the argument.

    For one thing, it's not just speeding; the question is whether or not all fines should be like this.
    And I don't see why it should be any different.

    That's because income is not, as you said, an "unrelated factor". It is very relevant to what type of punishment you get for any sort of crime.
    How exactly is it related? Is the punishment for murder 10-15 for rich people but 25-30 for poor people?

    Punishment should be the same for any crime regardless of wealth - and unless you base fines on income, that is not the case. See Tucker's post for an explanation of why. Rich people have to give less of what they have than poor people.
    Again, that's one way to look at how fines work. You could also look at it in terms of total amount, which I think is more logical, administratively simpler, and historically accepted.

    As for the Constitutional argument - that argument, even if it were valid (and I'm not so sure that it is, considering that a fine could be considered a tax) applies to the Federal government. Speeding, as well as most things which you get a fine for, is not a Federal crime.
    As you note, we're talking about all fines, not just speeding. I can think of a dozen federal fines off the top of my head - environmental fines, SEC fines, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by sazerac View Post
    We can't have millions of people driving around who are nonpunishable because of their wealth.
    We've had a system like this for the past 90 years and it seems to work just fine. Do all rich people drive 150mph wherever they go, killing children left and right?
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    Re: Should traffic fines and other fines be based on the income the offender makes?

    Most of this cretin's fine was punishment for perjury. He claimed to have diplomatic immunity at his first hearing. He didn't.
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