Los Angeles, California, the second most populous city in United States, passed a new ordinance today that will increase traffic fines for well-to-do drivers, while decreasing the the fines for low-income traffic violators. The new law, which was passed on a 14-1 vote during the city council meeting this morning, is relatively new to the United States, but similar laws have been enforced in European nations such as Finland for some time.
The law aims to change the current fines that are in place, which are the same amount for all traffic violators, to ones that are proportional, and attached to the offender’s income. Instead of exact dollar amounts, traffic fines within the boundaries of the city of Los Angeles will now be expressed as a percentage of the person’s yearly income.
For example, on a red light violation which normally carries a fine of $300 for everyone, it will be 0.6% of the person’s income, which translates to around the same amount of $300 for a person who earned $50,000 on his latest IRS form 1040. However, on the same traffic violation, it will be a whopping $18,000 for someone who earns $3 million.
Low income drivers will clearly benefit from this new law, as a person who earns $18,000/year will now only have to fork out $108.00, while a person with an income of $12,000/year will only pay $72.00, and so on.
“Our main focal point is really the low income residents, to whom $300 could mean the difference between whether or not they are able to put food on the table for a week. Meanwhile, the same amount is basically peanuts to those earning, say $300K a year or more,” said Los Angeles Councilor Rick Manzanito.
“We also found in a study conducted between January through October of last year, that a majority of high income violators tend to just pay-off the fine immediately, rather than take the traffic courses offered as an alternative to paying ,” Mazanito added.
The study also revealed that well-to-do traffic violators, as a group earning more than $300,000/year, has more repeat offenders during a 12-month period compared to groups earning $100,000/year or less.
“This tells us that the current system is not serving as a deterrent to well-to-do drivers from violating traffic laws,” Manzanito said.
In a telephone interview, Don Mayerk, spokesperson for the LA-Hollywood Actor’s Guild (LAHAG) said that it was ‘the most absurd’ law he has ever heard about.
“Many of our members earn upwards of $10 million a year, so that means a fine of at least $60,000 for a red light violation!? This is f****ing stupid!”, Mayerk said screaming before abruptly hanging up the phone.
However, low-income Los Angelinos without a doubt, favor the new law.
Abril Uno reporter Akoy Ciraulo caught up with Tony Montana, a convicted felon with only less than $18,ooo reported as income on his latest tax record. Montana said that it is “good for Los Angeles as it provides an even playing ground for rich and the poor”.
Montana also said that it was “good for business”, but would not elaborate any further when asked.
On his way to a luncheon today, Police Chief William Earps was heard saying that it would mean a lot of revenue for the city. He said it is one law that is “long overdue” and that high income drivers have been “getting away with it for the longest time”.
“I’d like to see Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg drive through Los Angeles,” Earps said. “My Windows system crashes everyday and I hate Facebook.” he added as he was entering his car with a smirk on his face.