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Don’t You Dare Speed Through Switzerland in a Ferrari Testarossa

There and elsewhere, traffic fines are higher if you’re rich. And that’s fair.


Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

A traffic fine that’s meaningless to a multi-millionaire can be crippling to someone living on the edge. Along with processing fees and penalties for late payment, a single fine can drive families into bankruptcy. The National Center for Victims of Crime estimated in 2011 that Americans owed more than $50 billion to the criminal justice system. The Washington Post estimated in 2018 that more than 7 million Americans may have lost their driver’s licenses because of unpaid court or administrative debt. 

The solution is obvious: Calibrate fines to violators’ ability to pay. That’s the conclusion of an article by Jean-Pierre Dubé, a marketing professor  at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, in the spring issue of the Chicago Booth Review.