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The Forum > General Discussion > Are fines in Australian Law equitable?

Are fines in Australian Law equitable?

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Is the concept of lawful fines as a percentage of income more equitable than fixed fines?

Discuss.
Posted by Is Mise, Sunday, 16 July 2017 3:49:16 PM
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I presume you're referring specifically to traffic fines, Is Mise.

The fixed-fine system is somewhat equitable to the extent that everyone loses the same amount of points on their licences, and those on lower incomes are able to make arrangements for reasonable weekly/fortnightly payment plans.

The main problem with an income-based fine system (ignoring the silly red scares that are sometimes brought up when the issue is raised), is the fact that one’s income isn’t always indicative of their wealth.

I think where those on lower incomes suffer more with the fixed-fine system is in the stress that is brought on by receiving a fine. The wealthy person simply pays the fine and moves on, and the risks of speeding are less for them. And, to that extent, they are theoretically more inclined to do it.

That being said, perhaps the biggest problem with the fixed-fine system is that (theoretically, at least) we create a class of people out there who are more willing to put the lives of others at risk, when we should all be equally concerned about speeding?

Just a thought.
Posted by AJ Philips, Sunday, 16 July 2017 7:52:29 PM
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Our speed limits are totally ridiculous, designed only for revenue raising. For many years I drove interstate regularly, cruising quite legally at between 80 & 90 MILES per hour, without any problems, as did hundreds of thousands of us.

Today with much better cars & roads we have the lowest speed limits in the world, simply to allow governments to waste even more money collected in fines.

These speed limits have no bearing on safety, as on the country main roads I frequent, about half the traffic travels well under the limit, obviously at a speed they are comfortable.

The financial burden of fines is very low compared to the burden of losing a drivers licence, even for low income people. The cost to most people of loss of mobility is far greater than the few hundreds of dollars in fines, that would cause a loss of licence. As the loss of licence is standard regardless of income, the most serious penalty is quite equitably, if ridiculously applied.
Posted by Hasbeen, Sunday, 16 July 2017 8:21:01 PM
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The only fines i have had has been in my coffee. It is not compulsory to rack up fines, anyone that does rack up a stack of fines is a Hasbeen.
The system is designed to give everybody a fair go. By going above the limit it is taking judgment away from someone else. You can judge if you have a safe limit at a stated speed. If someone is speeding your judgment is compromised because you don't expect someone to be speeding.

Speeding is for hoons without anything between the ears, and those that rack multiple fines or drive unregistered cars need naming and put on an public menace list. They are just plain selfish.
Posted by doog, Monday, 17 July 2017 10:31:51 AM
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In this matter I have heard an interesting point raised.
A speeding infringement is a criminal matter.
As such the suspect must be positively identified.
To be "Deemed" to be the driver is not positive proof.
You do not have to admit to being the driver or offer any information
on whom the driver maybe. You are entitled to silence as you do not
have to give any evidence that may convict yourself.
These are two important principles from common law that have been in
place for centuries.
So if booked by a camera and by post, say nothing
and admit nothing, the prosecution has to prove its case.
This maybe how the Queensland drivers are getting away with not paying tolls.
There is an ancient law that says if a toll collector is not present
the debt is forgiven.
The constitution says that debts must be paid in "Coin of the Realm".
Presumably that also means "Notes of the Realm".

I would be interested to hear O Sung Wu's opinion on this.
He must have heard stacks of excuses in his time.
Posted by Bazz, Monday, 17 July 2017 2:37:07 PM
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No, I'm not referring specifically to traffic fines but across the board.
However, traffic fines are a good example.

Example: "Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman, was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country—an offense that would typically come with a fine of a couple hundred dollars, at most, in the U.S. But after Finnish police pulled Kuisla over, they pinged a federal taxpayer database to determine his income, consulted their handbook, and arrived at the amount that he was required to pay: €54,000.

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. Exorbitant fines like this are infrequent, but not unheard of: In 2002, a Nokia executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle, and the NHL player Teemu Selanne incurred a $39,000 fine two years earlier.

“This is no constitutionally governed state,” one Finn who was fined nearly $50,000 moaned to The Wall Street Journal, “This is a land of rhinos!” Outrage among the rich—especially nonsensical, safari-invoking outrage—might be a sign that something fair is at work."

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/03/finland-home-of-the-103000-speeding-ticket/387484/
Posted by Is Mise, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 12:54:09 PM
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