Median income in Trinbago is somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000. The lower number comes from Guardian (2015) article quoting Dr. Roger Hosein. The higher number comes from various online sources of dubious quality in terms of citations but claiming a more recent date. When stated, most people are shocked by this number as being unbelievably low. Let’s assume this number is accurate.
How fair is it to charge someone more than a months salary for a driving infraction? Heliconia supports a more progressive regime. The Prime Minister makes more than $50,000 TTD/month, a regular parliamentarian makes $33,000 TTD/month. While these people can easily pay these fines, it seems onerous to charge someone more than double their salary for something that all of us have done/still do occasionally. And this is important, while it may be wrong, culturally, many of us speed and know people who speed. As such, getting a ticket is not fair comeuppance for a heinous act but bad luck for behaviour that we frown upon but regularly engage in. If that is true, then the fines should visit reasonable but not onerous pain.
How would the PM feel if he was fined $50,000 for speeding - one month’s salary? That clearly feels excessive. But that’s exactly what is happening to more than half our working population. The charge for speeding is $7,000. Imagine the utter financial ruin that befalls the unlucky person who can barely afford a car, insurance, gas, and then is unlucky enough to get a speeding ticket that is above one month’s salary. This fine is the kind of thing that can put a family close to the edge onto the breadline.
This concept is known as a ‘day-fine’. This is meant to equate the fine for the infraction to a certain number of days of the offender’s income. As such, instead of quoting the fine as a dollar amount, the fine is quoted as certain number of days. Several countries already employ fines in this way: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Croatia, Germany, and Switzerland. We can work with these countries and their international/developmental aid divisions to get support on setting up this framework with our nuisance fines.
Heliconia believes this will be in keeping with the social goals of the current government.