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December 1, 2009

Tiger Woods gets citation, but will not face criminal charges

This updated report from Bloomberg news provides a criminal-justice update on the Tiger Woods car crash brouhaha:

Tiger Woods will be cited for careless driving in the one-car crash last week outside his home and faces no further charges, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Patrol spokeswoman Kim Montes said at a televised news conference that Woods, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, would be fined $164 and that there was insufficient evidence to get medical records in the case.  He was treated for facial cuts after the crash.

After issuing the citation to Woods, who will also receive four points on his driving record, the investigation will be closed and police will not pursue criminal charges against the golfer or his wife, Elin, police said.

There is no “testimony or other evidence to support additional charges of any kind,” police said in a statement. “We cannot speak to the existence of any blood evidence, nor are there claims of domestic violence by any individual.”

Though so much has and still will be said about this matter, I will focus on the fact that $164 to Tiger Woods is probably the equivalent of less than a penny to the average American. 

Tiger should consider himself lucky that his offense did not take place in the part of the world where his wife comes from, where a day-fine system is often used for punishing traffic offenses.  As noted in this prior post, Norway earlier this year imposed a fine of over $100,000 on a wealthy man for drunk driving.  Given that Tiger makes roughly $10 million each month, even a day-fine of only one day would mean a fine of over $300,000 rather than just a paltry $164. 

December 1, 2009 at 05:24 PM | Permalink


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Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 1, 2009 11:58:25 PM

What criminal charges do you believe he should face for a car accident, Doug, and what in heaven's name besides revenue generation would justify charging him $300K for it? Most auto accidents where no alcohol was involved do not result in criminal charges, much less six-figure fines. Comparing his fine to a DWI in Norway when that wasn't Tiger's offense makes your suggestion pretty dicey. You have posed a false equivalent.

Must EVERYTHING be criminalized and maximally punished? Is there no scope of human activity where accidents may be treated simply as accidents? He was physically injured and publicly humiliated, why isn't that enough for you?

On the bright side, if SC thinks this is such a nightmare perhaps he'll migrate from SL&P and begin trolling the sports blogs to explain why every problem on the face of the planet is the fault of rent-seeking golfers.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 2, 2009 8:11:30 AM

Why do you have a problem with revenue generation, Grits, especially when it is just the equivalent of one day's pay for a citable offense that has cost many days of police resources for the state of Florida (not to mention some property damage)? From a Florida taxpayer perspective, this is anything but a cost-free event, and I think the day-fine approach used in Scandinavia is much more fair than the fixed fine approach used in the US. That was the main point I was trying to make here, though you are right that Tiger's escapade is not quite as serious as DWI.

My broader point, of course, is to stress yet again the value and potential virtues of economic sanctions. As you know well, I do not urge everything to be "criminalized and maximally punished." But, as a big fan of markets, I do urge for all risks/costs to be internalized and usually economic sanctions provide the best way to do this. Do you think a fine of just $164 will keep Tiger or anyone else from careless driving? A much bigger fine just might (though I would be especially interested to see if the huge fines used in Norway for DWI has an impact on drunk driving rates).

Posted by: Doug B. | Dec 2, 2009 9:23:34 AM

Professor Berman: Small problem with revenue raising. It is unlawful, and violates the separation of powers. The Supremacy decided to not fight a ticket for going through a red light. The fine was $25. But, there was a charge for ambulance services, a medical malpractice fund, and to computerize the court. The tab added up to $110. In another county, there were charges for out of county violators for the rental of the police car, the time of the police, and a host of other fees, adding up to $2000. The federal court struck these down.

I am looking for a class action lawyer to retrieve the $10's of millions collected by the above fees on my ticket. If the county wants to raise revenues, let them pass a tax. And the judge can buy his own damn laptop as the rest of us do.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 2, 2009 10:55:25 AM

If his wife pummeled him with a golf club and he didn't report her to the authorities, how about misprison?

Last I heard, a Texas heart surgeon was still on the run from fraud charges for continuing to treat Medicare patients after losing his Medicare priviliges in a felony conviction.

His felony offense was misprison, a "serious crime" authorities said he'd committed by failing to turn in his brother (also a surgeon as I recall) for a crime he'd known about yet failed to reveal.

Or do you have to turn in your brother, but it's OK to shield your wife?

Posted by: John K | Dec 2, 2009 11:26:32 AM

Grits: Woods is in a nightmare, a feminist nightmare. Wife is ultra-violent. Mistress has a big mouth, yelling about all the details.

He and golf in general are not rent seekers. They are the opposite, profit seekers.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 2, 2009 11:53:41 AM

grits: "if SC thinks this is such a nightmare perhaps he'll migrate from SL&P and begin trolling the sports blogs to explain why every problem on the face of the planet is the fault of rent-seeking golfers."

me: actually many of the world's problems are caused by stupid men who play golf ;)

The real crime here is that Tiger Woods gets $120 Million a year to play a stupid game.

Posted by: virginia | Dec 2, 2009 4:47:49 PM

The reason Mr. Woods should not be charged with a crime is that there is no very good reason to believe he committed one.

Next case.

Ginny --

If people are willing to pay all that dough to watch him play, more power to him. At least we don't have a White House Golf Revenue Czar. Yet.

Personally, I find golf simultaneously boring and enraging. It's boring because you just walk around a glorified park all day, and enraging because this little white ball down there keeps sticking its tongue out at you when you fail to hit it just right - or, in some of our cases, at all.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 2, 2009 6:02:03 PM

Bill: "At least we don't have a White House Golf Revenue Czar. Yet."

me: as a special tribute to your constantly citing to the authority of dead white men to support the death penalty, I will note that I do not favor capping the amount of money Woods can get. I just favor a return to the tax rates that existed under President Eisenhower :)

Posted by: virginia | Dec 3, 2009 12:16:26 PM

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