Expatica news

Belgian considers means-based traffic fines

18 August 2004

BRUSSELS – The Belgian Justice Ministry is considering introducing a system under which the size of traffic fines would be directly proportional to alleged perpetrator’s financial means, it was reported Wednesday.

The ministry is said to have reacted positively to a plan by criminologist Christine Denis to scale traffic fines according to people’s incomes.

Denis, from Liège University, argues that a set fine should be decided for everyone depending on the number of days involved and the gravity of the offence.

A judge will then grade the financial implications for each individual depending on their economic means.

“This concept has been working in Finland since 1921,” and has meanwhile progressed to Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, France, Spain and soon Switzerland, Denis told La Libre Belgique.

According to Denis, the new system would seek to lessen feelings of injustice and social inequalities.

Proponents of a different regime also argue that the state would benefit as it would cut down on unnecessary jail terms that are disproportionate to the fine.

Denis said she would like to introduce some fairness into the system as currently an unemployed person is penalised proportionately much more than someone with a good job for the same offence.

But the system also has its disadvantages as it could prove to be an administrative burden for the judicial system.

It could be introduced in gradual steps to ensure it applied to all types of fines, said Denis.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news