If you've ever gotten a speeding ticket, you know how expensive they can be. Going just a few miles over the limit can easily lighten your wallet by a few hundred bucks.
But fines like that pale in comparison to the one that Reima Kuisla was asked to pay in his home country of Finland. According to the New York Times, a speeding ticket that Kuisla received in 2013 totaled 54,024 €, or roughly $58,000.
How fast was the man going? He was clocked at 64 mph in a 50 mph zone. For those who may not have a calculator handy, that works out to be $4,143 for every mile over the speed limit.
How is that possible -- or even fair? You can debate the second part of that question in the comments, but the first has to do with the European traditions of progressive taxation and progressive punishment.
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CRIME, PUNISHMENT, AND TAXES
Progressive taxation isn't unknown in the U.S. Capital gains, for example, can be taxed at a higher rate if you earn a higher income.
The idea of progressive punishment, however, is moderately rare here. The notion that those who earn more should pay more in fines is somewhat foreign to American sensibilities. We tend to believe that parking tickets, speeding tickets, and late fees should reflect the nature of the offense, not the size of the offender's investment portfolio.
In Finland, however, it's a different story. As the Times reports, fines like the one that Kuisla received for speeding near an airport:
"[A]re calculated based on half an offender’s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month. Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense."
Kuisla is a successful businessman, and his fine was based on his reported income for 2013, which totaled 6,559,742 €, or nearly $7.2 million. He was fined around 0.8 percent of that sum. For someone earning a modest 50,000 €, that would work out to a fee of 400 €, or $439 -- much more in line with the sorts of fees that we see here in America.
(It should be noted that Finland views speeding as a serious crime, so penalties are prone to be somewhat higher than in the U.S.)
As you might expect, Kuisla wasn't happy about the fine, and he took to social media to complain. However, he didn't find universal sympathy for his grievances. Many in Finland appear to back the traditional system, believing that those who can pay more should pay more.
Though his fine was ultimately slashed to 5,346 €, Kuisla continues to make threats about leaving the country.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The Car Connection thanks our tipster, who prefers to remain an International Man of Mystery.]