Has the time come to apply an income test for fines? I think so.
A recent review of fines and suspensions shows several drivers (I am not listing their names, as for purposes of this discussion they are irrelevant). For the same infraction, Drivers A, B and C were each fined $100. Driver A had purse winnings of $12.8 million in 2009; Driver B had purse earnings of $3 million in 2009; Driver C had purse earnings of $452,000. Looking only at the 5% of the purse the driver earns, Driver A earned $640,000; Driver B earned $150,000; Driver C earned $22,600.
If fines are supposed to be a penalty to deter someone from repeating the same infraction, do you think a $100 fine for Driver A is going to deter him from committing the same offense? Hint, he committed the same offense twelve days later and in both cases, he paid his fine and waived his right to appeal before the fines were even published in the report. To him, the fine was a cost of doing business. The fine may have meant something to Driver B but for sure, it hurt Driver C. If this fine was going to deter someone from violating the same rule again, it was Driver C.
What if the fines were indexed like income taxes to the earnings a driver made the previous year or quarter? Let's say the brackets were set up so Driver A was fined $1,000; Driver B fined $500; Driver C $100 for the same infraction. If this was the case, all three drivers may think twice before committing an infraction; it would no longer be a cost of doing business. Indexing should apply to trainer fines as well.
Outrageous you say? I say not. As long as fines are miniscule when compared to a driver's earnings, rules will be disregarded. Indexing fines will force both drivers and trainers to take the rules seriously before the first infraction.
It is worth a look.
In a related subject, Pull the Pocket talks about how Kentucky is cracking down on frivolous appeals of suspensions. Ontario just increased a penalty on driver Doug McNair and added another $1,500 fine for a frivolous appeal. If more states and provinces took similar actions more frequently maybe justice wouldn't be delayed like it is now.