2010-03-24
The following message was sent by me to California Assembly member Jared Huffman and California State Senator Mark Leno in the hopes that the Golden State will enact a change that will bring equality to the way motor vehicle fines are determined by the State.



Hello,
My Name is Jezra Lickter and I am a resident of Petaluma California. I am writing to you in the hopes that you will help enact my proposed legislation. To put it simply, I am proposing equality in moving violation fines. To this end, I would very much like to see fines for motor vehicle infractions be based not on a flat rate, but upon a percentage of the offenders annual income.

If the use of a fine is to be a deterent against infractions, basing the fine on a percentage of income will act as more of a deterent across all economic classes than a flat rate fine.

For example suppose two people are cited for talking on a cell phone while driving, one (Person A) makes $20,000 a year, which is approximately the income of a minimum wage employee, and the other (Person B) makes $300,000 a year. Currently, both will receive a $20 fine. Person A will need to work for two and a half hours to pay the fine and Person B will need to work for just over 8 minutes. while this is a deterent for Person A, this is no deterent at all for Person B.

Now suppose that the fine for talking on a cell phone was 0.01% of ones annual income. Person A would pay a fine of $20 dollars and Person B would pay a fine of $300. Both people would need to work the same amount of time in order to pay their fine.

Basing motor vehicle fines upon income is nothing new; Germany, France, Austria, and Nordic Countries base speeding tickets on income. ( see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34792272/ )

When applied to all moving violation fines, this legislation would theoretically create a temporary surge in the amount of money collected through fines as the well-to-do that normally are not deterred by the current fines begin to pay their equal share.

Thank you for your time,
Jezra Lickter
Comments
2010-03-24 senshikaze:
My only problem: you used an MSN link! come on!
Other than that, sounds nice.
2010-03-25 x1101:
Excellent idea. I assume that carrying this to its logical end would imply that for more serious moving violations the rate would increase to higher percentages of income.
2010-03-25 jezra:
@senshikaze, I couldn't find I nice link to the AP article

@x1101, Absolutely. For example speeding in a school zone could be a fine of 1%.
2010-03-25 Windigo:
Sounds quite fair to me; although, the overhead for implementing it might be difficult.

In NY, it falls on the towns to collect fines like this - is it the same in California?
2010-03-26 jezra:
Windigo, yes, it is same in California. As per the overhead issue, in this digital age, it *shouldn't* be too hard to link the DMV database to the Franchise Tax Board database to determine the amount to be paid.
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