Outrageous traffic fine in Switzerland serves as cautionary tale

GENEVA, Switzerland — Fining speed demon billionaires is big business in Switzerland, but large traffic fines can be assessed to anyone based on family income. 

The 20Min newspaper reported on 15 January on an old fine assessed to Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli – he of the Alinghi fame.

Even though the incident occurred in December 2016, the news has caused an uproar after it was revealed that Bertarelli had been slapped with a more than a quarter-million-franc fine.

He was allegedly going 28 km above the speed limit in Crans-près-Céligny, when he was stopped by cops back in December 2016.

According to the Swiss newspaper, Bertarelli was penalized CHF10,000 for the offense plus CHF3,000 per day for 100 days.

Swiss authorities, which can asses a fine based on income, had already sanctioned the philanthropist nearly CHF55,000 for a similar incident.

Outrageous as it might be, this is not the first time that such a penalty fee has been assessed in Switzerland.

Back in 2010, a similar fine was assessed to a driver with a resembling pattern of speed, but with a few millions less.

If you think that big fines are reserved for those with larger than thou incomes, think again.

T*. was assessed a fine after failing a breathalyzer test. He was riding his bike through a nearly empty cantonal road off of a vineyard in Satigny. Even though he was a stay-at-home dad and had no income of his own, authorities assessed  him a CHF1,000 fine based on his wife’s salary of CHF140,000.

*Not his real name.

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