Speeding driver in Georgia received a $1.4 million ticket — and was told it wasn't a typo

Originally published at: Speeding driver in Georgia received a $1.4 million ticket — and was told it wasn't a typo | Boing Boing

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Oh really? Then just why IS this driver’s “placeholder” such an absurdly large amount of money?

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Disappointing end to this story. I was hoping somebody was trying to make a fine actually be noticeable to someone wealthy.


That your license wouldn’t be immediately suspended for exceeding the speed limit by that much is ludicrous.


A friend of mine from Virginia recently showed me his most recent medical bill from Humana, his insurer. The amount was slightly over a trillion dollars USD. When he called the billing office, they verified the amount. When he pointed out that the initial charge was, according to them, the year 1900, the idiot on the other end of the phone held firm. Obviously it was escalated and an apology (and correction) was eventually issued.
Edited to correct a typo.


I thought that was a placeholder. :thinking:


This seems either foolish; or like some procedural chicanery is at play:

It’s perfectly reasonable for certain traffic offenses to merit a court appearance rather than just a fine; but if that’s actually the case then just say so; don’t try to use a mechanism that’s only for issuing fines to sneak in a different objective by setting the fine to eleventy-billion, conveniently only modifiable in court.


It happens elsewhere…


yeah, i imagine it’s something along the lines of: we here at the police department brought 5 billion dollars to the community last year alone. now please approve this pay raise


Where I live - in Switzerland - that fine would be possible. The highest fine ever was for speeding about 100mph above the speed limit of 75mph. It depends on the speed and wealth and income of the driver. As a driver myself, I find that reasonable.


Or perhaps there is a spreadsheet somewhere that shows $200m in “pending fines” balancing out a suspicious $200m hole somewhere else.


Unless the accounting system is deeply broken I suspect that the value would have been much smaller if it were chosen for book-burnishing purposes; trying to pass a plausible embellishment is much more viable than slipping something that will have anyone who takes even the most cursory high level look wondering about slipped decimal places is hard to hide.

I’m thinking more along the lines of someone playing fast and loose with the distinction between civil and criminal tickets. I’m not sure if it works the same in Georgia; but here if it’s a civil citation you can appear in court to contest the fine or just pay it, at your option. If it’s a criminal citation the court appearance is exciting and mandatory. Setting an arbitrarily high value sounds like a backdoor way to effectively compel an appearance if you don’t have the appropriate authority to just overtly do so.


That’s the kind of reckless infraction that shouldn’t be something that can be settled with a fine. It’s not like anyone who gets killed by this driver is going to be made whole by the state bringing in a little extra revenue.


However, if the fines would be regularly high enough (and, as some countries have implemented, proportional to the wealth of the speeding person), less people would speed and less get killed.

Such policies DO work. And Germany should do that, as well. Some policies here brought changes already, but since still about 11% of accidents where people come to harm involve speeding, there’s room for improvement here.

Recently retired traffic court clerk here -

In our jurisdiction, cites that require an appearance are marked “CM,” which means “Court Mandatory.” The smart ones pick up the phone and call to ask. However, most of the public just think, “Oh, I got a ticket. I’ll deal with it later.” Then they find out what the CM meant as a warrant is being served.

I think designating the fine at $1.4 million is a brilliant way to get their attention and get them to take it seriously. I like that approach.


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