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What is the Finnish Day-Fine System?

The average cost of a speeding ticket is around $150. To most people, that’s almost a week’s worth of wages. But in Finland, speeding tickets can reach up to a record $103,000. Let’s find out how this happened and if it is effective in enforcing the law.

The Finnish implement the Day-Fine System. The penalty is calculated based on the offender’s daily disposable income, divided by two. The more severe the infraction and the more disposable income you have, the higher the fine.

The Day-Fine

The infraction incurred by the offender usually dictates fines. We are used to the fixed-fine system, wherein a blanket approach is used to determine an infraction penalty. The price doesn’t change. Though this system is the norm, it does not improve the efficacy of the sanction in place. (Source: University of Chicago)

The day-fine, on the other hand, emphasizes the offender’s disposable income. Simply put, a speeding ticket fine would differ from a minimum-wager to a millionaire. This system puts into perspective the concept of equal justice. A $150 speeding ticket could mean pocket change to one individual, yet could also mean a week’s pay for another.

Day-fines are used in several European and Latin American cities, as it is a way of distributing punishments equally among offenders. With this system, judges first determine how severe the infraction is. Then the severity will be translated to punishment units, wherein one unit of punishment is equal to one day’s play of the offender. (Source: OJP)

The day-fine was first implemented in Finland in 1921. Sweden, Denmark, and Norway soon followed the trend. Some studies showed that the system reduced the prison population, as the fines were more manageable to pay. (Source: Annex Publishers)

Benefits of Income-Based Fines

The first benefit of day-fines is that it delivers justice equally. A wealthy offender would be impacted the same pay a lower waged offender would. As mentioned above, a fixed-fine system may work well with individuals with a lot of money. They can write off the fine as chump-change. 

Another benefit the system can bring is the reduction of criminal justice debt for the poorer individuals. Fixed fines are usually steep, and if it is not paid, the offender can be thrown into jail for such a trivial offense. Being thrown in prison means no income for people in the economic margins. This will derail their lives. This situation may lead the individual to commit different offenses to either make ends meet or pay their fines.

Day-fines have been used as a substitute for incarceration in different countries, thereby lessening the expenses of running prisons. It has also helped generate revenue for the government that can be used for other things. (Source: University of Chicago)

Expensive Speeding Tickets

As mentioned above, day-fines are implemented in most European countries. There have been numerous reports of excessive speeding tickets paid by individuals. Below is a shortlist of individuals who spent a lot of money on speeding tickets. 

  • Ronald Klos, a British businessman, paid a $4,643 ticket in 2007 when he was caught by a camera going 156 mph and talking on his mobile phone.
  • Reima Kuisla, a Finnish millionaire, was fined $58,000 for doing 65 mph on a 50 mph road.
  • Ex-Nokia Phone Director Annsi Vanjoki paid $103,000 for riding his Harley-Davidson at 47 mph on a 31 mph road.
  • 27-year-old Jussi Salonoja, one of the richest men in Finland, was fined $217,000 in 2004. He was caught doing 50 mph on a 25 mph road.

(Source: Thrillist)

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