“I Really Regret the Matter,” Says Driver Fined $129K for Speeding

A (long outdated) Åland Islands plate (image: Pjt56 via Wikipedia, CC 3.0 cropped)

How fast do you need to be driving to get fined 121,000 euros ($129,544)?

In this case the answer turns out to be just 20 mph over the limit, or more accurately 32 kph over the limit, because this happened in Finland. Anders Wiklöf was reportedly driving 82 in a 50-kph zone (51 mph/31 mph) on Saturday when he was stopped by police somewhere on the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland in the Baltic Sea.

They are pretty darn close to Sweden, which is why the original report in Nya Åland is in Swedish:

Kommerserådet Anders Wiklöf har åkt fast för fortkörning på Järsövägen in mot Mariehamn på lördagen. Hans böter belöper sig denna gång på 121 000 euro.
– Jag beklagar verkligen saken och hoppas att pengarna i alla fall används till vården genom statskassan, säger han till Nyan.

Often a local report provides much better details than the wire services, but here that’s not really the case. We do learn that Wiklöf was speeding on “Järsövägen,” which I hoped was a really tiny island but turns out to be a highway. It has speed traps in addition to umlauts, and Wiklöf got caught in one of the former on Saturday. “I had just started to slow down,” he told Nya Åland, “but I guess it wasn’t [slowing down] fast enough and that’s how it went.” That wouldn’t be news if you said it, but it might become news if you had been fined 121,000 euros/$129k for a measly 32-kph violation.

While that would come out to 3,781.25 euros per kph, that’s not how they do it in Finland. There, speeding fines are apparently scaled based on income. According to this report—from the World Economic Forum, no less—Finland uses a “day fine” system “that is calculated on the basis of an offender’s daily disposable income—generally their daily salary divided by two. The more a driver is over the speed limit, the greater the number of day fines they will receive.” I don’t think this gives us quite enough information to calculate how much Anders Wiklöf makes in a day, but it’s probably a lot: the Washington Post describes him as “chairman of a holding company that includes businesses in the logistics, helicopter services, real estate, trade and tourism sectors.” So he can likely afford to fork over 121,000 euros for this, and probably could also afford the 63,680 euros he paid for speeding a few years ago and the 95,000 euros he paid for the same reason in 2013.

Those are big numbers even for a chairman of a holding company that includes businesses in the logistics, helicopter services, real estate, trade and tourism sectors, and Wiklöf at least suggested that these fines do sting a bit. “I really regret the matter,” he said, though in print you can’t see whether someone is rolling their eyes or not. I’m guessing he was, because he also took the opportunity to express the “hope” that this fine would be “earmarked” for the purpose of paying healthcare costs. “I have heard that they are going to save [cut?] one and a half billion [euros, presumably] on healthcare in Finland, so I hope that the money can fill a gap there.” It won’t fill that gap unless he gets caught speeding another 12,395 times this year, but every little bit helps. Certainly it would make more sense to fund healthcare that way as opposed to, let’s say, increasing taxes a little on holding-company chairmen, so let’s go with that.

According to the World Economic Forum, other countries also impose “progressive punishment” of this kind for speeding offenses. This resulted in what it said (in 2018) was the world-record speeding fine, imposed on a Swedish motorist caught in Switzerland driving 290 kph (180 mph): 1,080,000 Swiss francs, which comes out to $1,091,340.