Authorities around the world have long puzzled how to effectively deter those who would endanger innocent lives by driving recklessly on public roads. Car confiscation laws are now in place in many jurisdictions within America, Canada, Australia, Holland, Israel, South Africa and Poland, and in Iran you can have your car confiscated if it is carrying a pet or an inadequately covered female or playing loud music – indeed, in Iran, you can even be imprisoned and flogged for driving offenses. Maybe that would be preferable for some, compared to what happened to this guy.
Whilst those of us fortunate enough to live in civilized countries may consider such punishments overly harsh, at least they punish the perpetrator. Many punishments in countries we consider civilized are now targeting the owner of the car rather than the perpetrator.
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In Perth, Australia, we recently saw a US$200,000 Lamborghini impounded although it was being driven by a mechanic who had just serviced the vehicle – the Doctor who owned the car had no knowledge of what was being done with his vehicle but he still paid the price, losing the use of his vehicle for some period of time before it was returned.
Similarly, when F1 driver Lewis Hamilton was leaving the Albert Park circuit after practice for the first race of the 2010 season, he did a burn-out in his AMG Mercedes courtesy car and got that impounded. In most countries in the world, he'd have been cheered by the constabulary, but in the Australian State of Victoria, where the powers-that-be have declared war on "hoons", the wallopers were forced to book him.
Some jurisdictions give the cars back after impounding them for a period of time, though in Holland, the car can be confiscated permanently and that's just what happened a few weeks back when a 20-year old who had borrowed his dad's car, was booked for doing double the speed limit – 160 kmh in an 80 kmh zone.
That was just far enough over the limit to permanently lose the vehicle he was driving, and win him the world record for the most expensive speeding ticket in history, even if it was effectively being paid by his father – he was driving pop's Bugatti Veyron worth EUR1.8 million!
As far as we can determine, the car is gone for good, and dad is no doubt having a few stern words with junior, despite dad's long term association with motorsport.
The owner of the Veyron, with whom we thoroughly sympathize, is none other than technology entrepreneur Michel Perridon, the founder and CEO of Trust International, manufacturers of some of Europe's best selling computer peripherals.
Michel is a long time sponsor of motorsport and only last year Trust International was sponsoring the Red Bull Formula One team. That's F1 ace Mark Webber, Red Bull F1 Team Leader Christian Horner and wunderkind Sebastien Vettel holding a Trust International Red Bull computer mouse in the photo.
Truly, we do feel sorry for Michel – he wasn't even driving the car, yet if there's an upside, and we think there might be, it's that we think he can legitimately claim the record for himself - after all, he paid the fine. Whatsmore, he isn't going to lose the record soon. If we adjust the world's-most-expensive-speeding-ticket going forward to take inflation into account, it's gonna be a loooong time before he relinquishes the title.
The previously most expensive speeding ticket on record was handed out earlier this year in Switzerland where speeding fines are calculated on your net worth, as opposed to flat penalties which do not seriously deter the mega-wealthy.
The record holder was a diplomat from the republic of Guinea-Bissau caught driving a Ferrari Testarossa at 137 kmh (85 mph) through a village in Eastern Switzerland. The penalty was calculated as a percentage of the motorist’s wealth – assessed to be 24 million Swiss francs by the court – and the seriousness of the offense, his record and… the speeding ticket totalled nearly US$290,000 – a King's ransom for most, but a trifle in comparison to Perridon's fine – and he wasn't driving the car. In this case the perpetrator claimed diplomatic immunity for his offense, it only succeeded in saving him from being named, not from being fined.
The previous world record ticket was set in 2002, held by Jussi Salonoja, the then 27-year-old heir to a northern European meatpacking empire. In Finland, the fines for speeding offenses are levied against the annual income of the driver. Salonoja earned US$11.5 million in 2002, which resulted in a fine of around US$200,000.
So our suggestion is that Michel is now the rightful record holder, and despite the gravity of the offense, it wasn't his fault, so there's a degree of latitude that should be afforded him in how he wears his crown.
Trust appears to have dropped its Red Bull F1 sponsorship for 2010 (before this incident), but in winning the title of “the world's most expensive speeding ticket” perhaps Trust could issue a commemorative mouse so the unfortunate Perridon might be able to recoup his losses. And perhaps it should carry the inscription, "the road is not a racetrack."
And so far as the prosecution of innocent parties, let's make sure that the person who commits the crime serves the time. It was not the Lamborghini-owning Perth Doctor or Michel Perridon who should be paying the price, but the people behind the wheel.
More than a million lives are lost each year on public roads across the globe - in the words of Adam Smith, "mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."