FEBRUARY 14, 2002

$103,600 speeding ticket!

How fast do you need to be going to receive a $103,600 speeding ticket?

HOW fast do you need to be going to receive a $103,600 speeding ticket? In Finland, it depends on how much you earn. Nokia senior executive Anssi Vanjoki was busted on his Harley Davidson doing 47mph in a 31mph zone by local officials, and was assessed the six digit fine.

Vanjoki is challenging the fine, however, because it was based on his 1999 income, which was significantly higher than his current income due to the surge in the tech sector during the late nineties. The Nokia exec sold a large amount of Nokia options in '99, inflating his income, but because the company's stock price has dropped along with the rest of the tech market, it has not been worth it to Vanjoki to sell more options recently. His day in Helsinki district court will come May 15th.

The sliding scale has its supporters and its critics. Many wealthy Finns consider the fines robbery, and few understand how a fine is calculated because of its complexity.

When a driver is caught speeding, the officer uses his Nokia phone to enter some information, like the offender's social security number and the severity of the offense, and the officer quickly receives back the amount of the fine to be given.

The staggering equation for the fine begins with the offender's monthly income, which is discounted by the equivalent of about $235, and divided by 60 to calculate the daily disposable income of the offender. A small amount is subtracted for dependents, like children or a spouse, and added for other assets like real estate, to come up with the "day fine". Depending on the severity of the offense, determined by the officer, the "day fine" is multiplied by a number ranging from 1 to 20, and the result is the fine the offender must pay.

Vanjoki's fine is believed to be the largest ever assessed in Finland, topping Internet mogul Jaakko Rytsola's $71,000 ticket. It would be interesting to see what sort of fine Finns Mika Hakkinen or Kimi Raikkonen could manage.