We can propose fines proportional to the income level, what populism and demagoguery, against justice and deterrence?

a few days Ago proporcionábamos a few strokes of the proposals of the four political parties with greater representation in the Congress for the upcoming elections in the area of road safety. And I talked to some consensus, at least in regard to the maintenance of infrastructure, over the construction of new roads. But there was definitely a controversial topic, that by the time limitations of the debate was not dealt with in depth, that is generating, and insurance will generate an intense debate from different forums. we Can propose in its program that the fines, of course, also the traffic, equivalent to the level of income, and therefore income, of the offender, a measure which from PP and Citizens is rejected, and that from the PSOE recognizes that it might be interesting to study. The same model for which we have already seen how in Finland a few millionaires were receiving fines of the greater of 100,000 euros for excess of speed.

What the program says we Can?

In the point 29 of the 50 measures of the program presented by the agreement of United we Can (the famous program, popularly known as the “Ikea catalog”), that together we Can, United Left, and the confluences, reads as follows.

29. Fines and administrative sanctions proportional to the income of the people.
It will create a system of fines and administrative sanctions proportional to the income of the convicted person. Will be added to criteria of correction to the processes disciplinary that incorporate the accountability of the person offending, the fairness and proportionality of the sanction as a function of the level of income and a calculation system of agile and limited, starting from basic types and to set thresholds.


And what does that mean?

For the same offence, a driver with a few very high-income would pay more than an offender with a very low income.

Means that all fines and administrative penalties shall be variable, passing by a correction factor that will increase in a manner directly proportional to the level of income of the punished. In this measure, which presents the mode of election promise States we Can not yet specify to what extent it will increase the sanction, which will be the basic types, or what thresholds are contemplated. Jacinto Morano, the representative of the debate that we were able to attend last week, pointed out that before submission of this measure would need to be a technical study that should be defined for these aspects.

In this way, an offender with a very low income would receive a penalty in the minimum prescribed for the offence committed. While one offender that enjoyment of a few very high-income, and commits the same infraction, you will receive a financial sanction is much higher.

we Insist that this measure would affect fines and administrative sanctions, including fines for traffic violations.


why is it necessary to this extent to we Can?

At the point 258 in the program of United we Can is addressed in more depth this topic, or at least explains the reasons that have led to the introduction of the measure in its election programme, and why in your opinion is a fair measure and a deterrent.

258. Fines and administrative sanctions proportional to the income of the people.
We will create a system of payment of administrative sanctions and fines economic proportionate to the income of the convicted person, to modify the current system by one that is more just, proportional and functional. To do this, we will rely on the following principles:
• Accountability of the person offending.
• Fulfillment of the deterrent function. For the fines to meet this function, people with less income should be able to afford to pay, but their impact should be equivalent to that of people with higher incomes.
• Obligation to be equitable. The fines proportional are inherently more fair, because the amounts are not too low for certain sanctioned nor so high as to exceed the capacity of others.
• Establishment of a calculation system of agile and limited on the basis of a basic type and setting different thresholds, similar to those that are fixed for the payment of personal income TAX in function of the income of the punished.


To please: a question of justice, but especially of deterrence

The subject of economic sanctions proportional is not the tonic dominant, but relatively common in the judicial model of some countries, the most well-known scandinavian, as Finland, where it began in 1921. The reason for imposing economic sanctions proportionate in countries such as Finland is not other than that of deterring the offender. You will be with me in that, at the level proportional to, a fine for an excess speed of 100€ will not be reprimanded so hard for the offender with an income of £ 100,000 a year, even par offender with an income around the minimum wage (9.172€ per year in 14 pays).

so that with this correction factor to the economic sanctions proportionate are intended to be equitable, and thus fair, but also dissuasive. If the financial sanction does not affect both an offender with a few very high-income, as an offender with a very low income, their ability of deterrence will not, of course, the same.

A priori, this system would not lead to a technical complexity that is too high for the calculation of the sanctions, in both would be based on the level of income of the punished. That is to say, the fine would be fixed in function of an amount based on the last income tax return filed with Hacienda.


against: populism, demagogy and unconstitutionality

The criticism hard, and in my judgment it is ill-chosen, as the best criticism is that in that take into account the pros and cons of the proposed measure, read these days, in an editorial of The World under the headline “we Can takes its demagogy to the traffic tickets”. A criticism in which it appeals to the second chapter, article 14 of the Spanish Constitution, which reads that “spaniards are equal before the law, without that it can prevail any discrimination for reasons of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion or any other condition or personal or social circumstance”, appealing to her to recognize the unconstitutionality of the measure.

In any case, this criticism is reinforced, and at once falls by its own weight, if we compare the extent of the fines progressive, with the progressivity of the tax. Regardless of whether you have taxes that we consider to be more righteous, or unrighteous, elevated, or uncomfortable, humanity has learned since the time of the Roman Republic that it is necessary to pay taxes to maintain a society, and that these be calculated in function of the properties and the richness of the subject who has to pay for it. The same principle of justice could be applied to the fines progressive, with the added factor that the penalties seek to deter the offender.

The problem is that an administrative sanction should not be treated the same, or even much less, than a tribute. Note that a measure of this kind could get to the point in which we meet with sanctions clearly disproportionate, involving fines are very high for violations, very minor, that objectively do not have serious consequences for road safety, as a slight excess of speed. Notice that in Finland we already saw a fine 111.888€ to a driver for traveling at 82 km/h in an area limited to 60 km/h.

radares-plan-2015-01-1440px-1Another reason to be against this measure is found in the fact that for years already have in place dissuasive measures that were calls to prevent the drivers to commit offences, and that affect us all equally, regardless of our income. This measure is none other than the driving license points, and applies only in the more serious penalties. In its day, the points driving license also generated controversy, but today it has normalized the idea that a serious violation, like a speeding important, or driving in a drunken state, could cost us points, and losing all of our points, ultimately, we can cost you your driving licence. And we insist that this measure affects all equally, regardless of our income.

we must Also bear in mind that judges already have the ability to set a certain amount in criminal penalties, in function of the income of the offender, and other aspects. Benzema, Real Madrid player, was fined by example with 18,000€ for an excess of speed, by circular 194 km/h by the M-40 Madrid (ABC). So that this measure would only have as objective the extension of sanctions proportionate and above all the establishment of a mathematical formula under which we make those sanctions.

Andsta mathematical formula you already was tested, for example, in England and Wales in 1991. And as eventually dismissed by the low social support who had. To get an example of how far there is to take utmost care to raise these measures, and how what a priori seems fair to you may not be so, it is enough to mention a case in which a street fight between two men ended with a fine of 640 pounds for one of the contenders and of 64 pounds to the other competitor (BBC News).


so that the debate about this measure should not be negative, but rather the opposite. But it should also advocate for a solution like this without such a debate and, above all, without the approval of the society as a whole. And is that, now entering yes in the topic of road safety, and pay no attention to social factors, what is important beyond the deterrent effect of the penalties, is that these are understood in the context of the improvement of road safety and not for your rush collection.

Said, these measures should be understood always as a “patch”, and not as a solution to a problem is much more complex, which requires solutions focused on improving the culture of road safety, or infrastructure, among others. Fines and sanctions have to be understood as a measure to take when all else has failed, when a society has failed in its attempt to improve the coexistence of its citizens.