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Millionaire in Finland Fined $59,000 for Speeding

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2015-04-29 Alex Nishimoto
Finland speed limit sign © Provided by MotorTrend Finland speed limit sign

No one likes getting a speeding ticket, but can you imagine if a ticket set you back more than $50,000? That was the case for one man in Finland.

Finnish businessman Reima Kuisla was pulled over in early March for driving 64 mph in a 50 mph zone, which commanded a speeding fine of 54,024 euros (roughly $59,000 at today's exchange rates). You see, fines work a bit differently in Finland. The Scandinavian country calculates speeding infractions, which are seen as more serious offenses, based on income. To arrive at an appropriate fine, authorities take half of a driver's daily net income and multiply it by the number of days it is deemed they should lose, based on the severity of the infraction. The authorities consider how many children the offender has and how much it would cost to cover basic living expenses for them and subtract that from the number. The powers that be determined Kuisla should lose eight days of pay for going 14 mph over the speed limit, and given that he made more than $7 million in 2013, his fine was not insignificant.

The size of the ticket has drawn attention to Finland's fine system, with some saying the practice is actually a form of taxation. But apparently the notion that rich people should pay more because they can goes back a long way in Scandinavia.

"It's an old system," chief superintendent of the Finnish National Police Board Pasi Kemppainen told The New York Times. "It may lead to high fines, but only for people who can afford it."

The "day fine" system traces its roots back to the 1920s, when penalties based on income helped keep prison populations in check. The system even predates Finland's speed limits, which came in the 1970s. What's interesting about the Finnish justice system is that it treats speeding violations as crimes, which is part of the reason the punishment can be so severe. A commission is expected to review Finland's ticketing practices next year, and could decide to move speeding tickets out of the criminal justice system entirely. The New York Times says that if Kuisla were going 3 kmh (just under 2 mph) slower, the fine would've been about $110.

What do you think of the method Finland uses to issue tickets? Is it a great way to deter repeat offenders who would otherwise be able to afford the fines or an unfair taxing of the rich? Tell us in the comments below.

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Source: The New York Times

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