Monday, March 16, 2015



The Attorney General's findings are correct in this regard: the cost of traffic fines do not significantly hurt the middle and upper classes but can be devastating to the poor.

Think about it:  The point of assessing penalties is to sting us enough to make us wary of breaking traffic rules.

Imagine a city that imposed lashes across the back as penalties---the number dependent on the offense.  Say running a red light would earn one public lash-- EVERYBODY the same-- rich or poor.  That would approximate justice for all.

But suppose the poor were given 10 lashes and the rich only one? Outrageous?  Of course! But THAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION---dollar wise---and it is part of the reason for rioting in Ferguson, Missouri.

So I have a modest suggestion: LET US ASSESS TRAFFIC FINES BASED ON A PERSON'S WEALTH.  If you think this can't be done---think again.  It is already being done in Europe.  Read about it  here.. Traffic fines in some countries can be in the millions for the super rich.

If you think it's too difficult to determine a persons' wealth---think again:  I received a letter this morning from the government which --almost to the dollar--listed my modest assets.

UPDATE:  JOHN OLIVER has taken up the cause---spectacularly--ya gotta watch this:


Sundeep said...


Another great post. I often talk to my friends about how unjust things are like this.

For example people who get assessed the massive credit card interest charges are those who can't afford to pay them off each month. Whereas those who can have super low rates and get offered great incentives merely open another card. I've been on both sides of that one.

Other instances are rich celebrities who can afford eating at the fanciest of restaurants but who routinely get meals for free due to the publicity it brings the establishment. Such is life.

Apologies for the long comment, but having just now finished reading your entire blog from he beginning I must steal a few more moments to thank you for an incredible I sipping not just into your life, but the lifestyle of a whole society. Thank you'

Joyce said...

Why do you start your statement with "Blacks, Latinos" .. then and only then add poor. Perhaps you should have simply said POOR. Poor is not, or should not it be a race issue. I do not intend to go into why some groups have more poor than others, that is for another place. The problem I have with your blog is simply that it should be about two groups..the have's and the have nots. Having said that, I'll add that NO ONE would get traffic fines if they simply followed the law. However, when they do not, the law should be applied equally. How equally is determined is where your blog comes in.

Randy said...

Thank you Sundeep and Joyce--for such thoughtful comments. Yes,I could better have begun with the poor. I hope some smart attorney will make a federal case pointing out the injustice of equal dollar fines on rich and poor. I was pleased to discover that the Europeans are ahead of us on this.

Jim said...

I disagree that it's possible to drive in full compliance and never get a traffic fine. Nobody -- and I do mean no. body -- can drive in perfect compliance at all times. If the man is out to get you, he won't have to follow you very far to find you in violation of one rule or another. He can even ticket you for a burned-out taillight which isn't burned out. The burden will be on *you* to take time off work to try and prove (in court) otherwise. Unlike you, both officers will get paid for *their* time to appear in court. If two cops say you did something (whatever it might be) and you're alone? You did it whether *you* think so or not. If you've never been on the receiving end of this, you're confessing your white privilege and I don't even know what color you are . . . how's that for some profiling?
It's been a while, but the last time I paid a traffic fine, I could tell by the cars in the parking lot they were all relatively poor -- just like me. Of course, now you can pay your fines online and minimize the humiliation -- for a $2.25 service fee -- as I'm doing every month for a friend of mine:

Al Christensen said...

In too many places, traffic fines aren't about safety. They're about generating revenue. For example, instead of a cop positioning himself in plain sight at the beginning of a lower speed zone in order to deter speeding, he'll set up hidden near the end of the lower speed zone so he can write tickets. Or, rather than timing stop lights so that traffic flows rather smoothly, some governing bodies will have them intentionally timed to create frustration and tempt drivers to run red lights. It's a racket.

Ronnie Ryan said...

That is true ! Great Rant RANDY ! If I can help in this problem let me know.

Bon vivant said...

I've said it should be by community service, for decades. Any thinking person can see the inequity as well as the conflict of interest. Williamson County TEXAS practically funds it's entire budget this way.

Weston said...

If the court's believe that the state's true objective is public safety I think your suggestion would not survive an equal protection argument under the fourteenth amendment since the classification rests on grounds wholly irrelevant to the achievement of the State's objective.

Now if you could convince the courts that the state's true objective is in fact to generate income then I think it probably would pass muster under the 14th

Jim said...

The over-riding offset for "community service" is that LEOs have unlimited discretion . . . and knowing which side of their bread gets buttered (and by whom), they would simply let the wealthier citizens go with a warning and, trust me, they KNOW who the "pillars" of their community are.
Opinions will vary -- as they're wont to do -- but I know from personal experience that I get a LOT less (none so far) attention from the policia now that I've moved up from a $1,000 truck to an $11,000 truck. There's just something about matching tires and expensive custom wheels that makes cops go all weak in the knees . . . unless the driver is black or brown of course -- then it just pisses 'em off 'cuz they wonder, "How can that punk SOB afford those nice wheels when I can't?"

squire said...

15mph over the speed limit should be a 30 day jail sentence, 25mph over and they should shoot you on the spot.

Bob in LA said...


JKStiller said...

I am from Europe, to be exactly from Germany. Uups. Yes, the so called mystical last resort for speeding in this world. Which is WRONG! We have sections on our motorways which allow 150 m/ph - often enough only for 10 miles. Consider the traffic (Germany as a key country for East and West) and you know reality. Literally you can run amok at own risk from aprox. 3am to 5am if you are drunk, crazy, dumb, drugged or all together, but even this is about to be regulated. No tolerance. The cities are anyway restrictive since long. 30km/h zone and 5km/h above? Up to 100 bucks and one point. 18 points and licence is gone. Traffic rant as for me is an illness from the past. It got to be eliminated by new ways of thinking. The streets are crowded, the people want safety. Cars are essential and the 1960's gone long. Conclusion: Drive slow, give way and leave the tickets to the rich people.

OwenL said...

I've been fighting tickets in Massachusetts and in California since I was given a drivers license and more often than not I win. I can only count two times that I have lost a ticket in California. I always have to relearn the laws when I get a ticket, but it makes great sense to me to always make them prove that I'm guilty which is rare when you know how to behave and communicate with the officer(s) to begin with. As others have stated before, The whole traffic fine situation in California is a money racket designed to get fools to pay by intimidating or misinforming them on what will happen if they try to fight the ticket in the first place.
Education is king and I suggest that if you get a ticket in any state that you find out their traffic laws and attempt to fight the ticket instead of paying. I'm a member of the NMA (National Motorists Association) and they will pay your ticket for you if you prove to them that you tried to fight the ticket legitimately and lost. Do not be afraid to fight your ticket, you certainly CAN win!