OPINION - Means Tested Ticket Penalties

SoapboxVictoria's CFAX 1070 radio personality Ryan Price speaks with Saanich councillor Teale Phelps-Bondaroff to discuss means tested ticket penalties - the practice of basing the amount of a driver's penalties to their personal income.

Means tested penalties are also known as Day Fines.


Means Tested Ticket Penalties

I've been strongly in favour of means-tested penalities for traffic tickets and other civil fines for years. For the well-off, a couple of hundred bucks is pocket change; for other, it's the difference between feeding your family or not this week. Set the penalities at a means-tested percentage so that it stings any offender in proportion to the seriousness of the offence. 

Ways and means

Undoubtedly, some drivers and/or vehicle owners are much more inconvenienced by fines than others. And so from that perspective, the financial penalties of traffic tickets (or any other kind of ticket) are significant.

The Point Penalty system was deliberately devised both to inflict financial inconvenience on bad drivers (with bigger points and dollars for the most egregious behaviour), and to ultimately remove drivers who repeatedly offend from the highway by suspending their Driver License for a finite period. If it's your first license in BC and you haven't undergone the GLP process, (such as someone from a jurisdiction that doesn't have a reciprocal agreement) then you only hold a 2-year Probationary license at the Class 5 level after passing, to ensure that you're unable to renew your license if your driving history here is unsatisfactory - no matter who you are or how much money you have in the bank.

So I have no problem with the concept of 'Means Tested' penalties, vis a vis the financial cost. I just want to be certain that that those who repeatedly get tickets also get removed from behind the wheel. And there's no data on that, from what I know.

Of concern these days, in my opinion, is that the cops seem ever less interested in how road users - pedestrians, cyclists, drivers - react with each other, particularly at intersections. They're just never there, apparently. I've been driving for more than fifty years in this province, and the number of radar tickets just vastly exceeds all the other driving penalties. And now with 'RSBC' assuming operation of red light cameras (25% of which have speed measurement activated) if an N driver in a Lamborghini gets caught doing 180 kmh in a 60 zone, it's OK so long as his rich daddy who owns the car can afford to pay. Seriously! No identification of the actual driver, no penalty points on their license.

That's not how this system is supposed to work.

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