Perverse Priorities in Punishments for Vehicular Infractions in the USA

In this post, I am not particularly picking on California as such, because the weird situation I’m about to describe apparently happens in many, or maybe even all states (see the Massachusetts example in the photo below).

On July 20, 2017, the California Department of Motor Vehicles published this on its Facebook timeline:  ‘Don’t litter! The fine is $1,000, & you may be forced to pick up what you threw. Convictions go on your driving record.’ (Our italics, for emphasis.)

An attached photograph on the DMV post shows a picture of somebody dropping trash from the driver’s door window of a white car.

Photo of a road sign in Massachusetts showing fines for littering as $10,000.
Here’s a sign (in Massachusetts) that “up’s the ante” when it comes to disparity between fines for littering and fines for truly dangerous driving infractions. Copyright image.

 In response to the California DMV post, a gentleman called Mike Ridgway wrote: ‘So how much is the fine for “driving while texting”?’

Around mid-day on July 21, the California DMV replied: ‘Mike Ridgway – The base fine for the first offense is $20, and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.’

You will have to make your own mind up about the rationale for having a fine for dropping litter at $1,000 or even $10,000, as opposed to the fine for potentially lethal texting-while-driving being as low as just $20.  But what does this situation tell us about crash-prevention priorities and the value of human life, here in America?

Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

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