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Dr Jarrod Gilbert has a provocative opinion piece on the Herald website today, proposing that speeding fines become income related.
It’s an interesting argument, but not a new one.
Gilbert cites sixteenth century French philosopher Montesquieu as one of the first to wonder if there can be equality under the law with monetary penalties that are much harder on the poor than on the rich.
For myself, it takes me back to a remit that was basically laughed off the floor of a Labour Party regional conference in the early 2000s. The proposal on that occasion was to tag speeding fines to the value of the car, so Ferrari owners would pay much more than those with a clapped out Toyota.
I took the microphone and made what I thought was a reasonable plea on behalf of low income motorists. As I resumed my seat a well-known elderly delegate (who was a member of the Backbone Club in the 80s) turned around from the row in front of me and spat “haven’t you ever heard of Shanks’s pony, boy?”
The remit was lost.
But perhaps it’s an idea thats time is coming.
As Gilbert points out, it has been done in Finland. And why not?
Is it ok that someone who has a lot of money can afford to put other people’s lives at risk because a piffling little speeding ticket is chump change to them, while for other people it could be the difference between putting food on the table that week or not?
What are the arguments against it? That it’s not treating people equally under the law? I would argue that’s a more apt description of a status quo that doesn’t deter wrongdoing equally.
And while we are at it, perhaps we could throw in a premium on top for people in flash cars using passing lanes to queue jump during holiday congestion – which is my new pet peeve after crawling home from Northland on Monday…