Businessman In Finland Faces $130K Speeding Fine Due To The Progressive Penalty System, Sparks Massive Discussion Online
The old legend about Robin Hood says that a ‘noble robber’ took money and goods from the rich, and then distributed them to the poor. The state machine in many modern countries pretends to act pretty much the same way. We usually call it a ‘progressive tax system’, although the question is not only related to taxes, but also, for example, traffic tickets.
It is believed that the world record for the heftiest speeding ticket was set in 2010 when a Swedish driver accelerated his sports car to 290 mph and had to fork out $1M and the car was confiscated by the police. A recent similar case in Finland, of course, did not reach the record, but became the reason for a new heated debate online.
Businessman from Finland got recently caught speeding around 2o mph over limit
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Anders Wiklöf, a 76 Y.O. businessman from the Åland Islands in Finland, was stopped by traffic police a few days ago while driving around 50 mph as the limit was no more than 30 mph. The driver admitted that the road sign limiting the maximum speed from 43 to 30 mph appeared quite unexpectedly, so he simply did not have time to slow down. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident. But the remarkable thing, as you probably understand, was not that at all.
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Finland has a traffic ticket system based particularly on the offender’s daily disposable income
For many years, Finland has had a specific and rather complex system of traffic fines, based not only on the severity of the incident and the presence of relapses in the offender, but also on the level of their daily disposable income, generally considered to be half their daily net income. Any police officer has access to the centralized tax service database, so that the system literally in a few seconds issues its decision on the size of the fine.
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It just so happens that Mr. Wiklöf is the founder and chairman of a €350m-a-year (~ $376) holding company. The man is one of the richest people in the region, and, for example, the Wiklöf Holding Arena, the main sports facility of Maarianhamina, the capital of Åland, bears his name. As you may understand, the offender is quite a rich person, so the amount of the fine was already assumed to be rather hefty.
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This was the third time the offender has been caught speeding so he has to fork out €121K now
An aggravating circumstance here was that in ten years, this was the third time that Wiklöf had exceeded the speed limit. In 2013, he received a fine of €63,680 (~ $68.5K), and five years later the speed-loving businessman had to fork out €95K (~ $102K). As a result, the amount of the new fine was €121K (~ $130K), and this is definitely one of the top ten largest traffic tickets world history has ever known.
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On the other hand, the violator became poorer by an amount that is equal to about half of his two-week income. In addition, Wiklöf’s driving license was suspended for 10 days. In an interview with the local newspaper Nya Åland, the millionaire admitted that he regrets what happened. “I had just started slowing down, but I guess that didn’t happen fast enough. It’s how it goes,” he said. Well, let’s hope that Mr. Wiklöf tries not to speed in the future…
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The previous ‘national record’ in Finland was set in 2002 and amounted to no less than €116K
By the way, the previous ‘national record’ for the ticket amount was set more than twenty years ago. In 2002 Anssi Vanjoki, a top Nokia executive, faced a €116K ticket (~ $124.8K) after being caught driving his Harley-Davidson 46 mph in a 30 mph speed limit zone. Just in that year, when another Finn, Markus Grönholm, became world rally champion, and Mika Hakkinen was the reigning ‘king’ of Formula 1. Yes, Finland has given the world some really outstanding racers…
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People in the comments are of split opinions whether this system is fair or it provides some kind of indulgence for rich people
And seriously, this news caused quite a heated discussion on Twitter – not so much about speed limits, but about the fairness of the Finnish system for calculating traffic tickets. Some of the commenters speak out in support of the existing rules, while others believe that this is nothing more than just ‘punishing people for being successful’. “Fines are basically fees to break the law. If it’s proportional to income, then everyone has the same financial incentive to follow it,” some of the folks in the comments tweeted. And you know, it really begs lots of questions… What do you, our dear readers, think about it?