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May 12, 2009

My kind of drunk driving sentence ... in Norway

I was intrigued and pleased to see this press report, headlined "Big fine follows short drive," discussing a noteworthy drunk driving sentence handed down recently in Norway:

A Norwegian businessman was ordered on Tuesday to pay a fine of 700,000 kroner for driving 400m while drunk, a court said.  Due to the man's wealth, the court in the southern Norwegian county of Aust-Agder handed down a heavier-than-usual sentence, which would normally be equivalent to a month-and-a-half's gross salary for the accused.

"The principle of proportionality implies that we should take into account the entire wealth of the person in cases where the defendant is more well off than most other people," a copy of the verdict obtained by AFP read.

The 49-year-old man is the heir of a rich shipping family.... The man was also ordered to take part in an alcohol rehabilitation programme — failing which he will have to serve 18 days in jail — and he had his driver's licence suspended for two years and three months.

The man was arrested in October 2008 after he was found to have more than nine times the permitted blood-alcohol level an hour after he was stopped by police. The man told the court that he had only driven 300 to 400m, and that, aware of his condition, he was going to meet friends to ask them to take him home.

As regular readers know, I am a fan of alternatives to incarceration and also a fan of tougher sentences for drunk drivers (primarily in the hope of achieving a measure of general deterrence for what seems like a deterable crime).  Thus, making a rich very guy pay over $100,000 even for a short drunk drive sounds about right (I think I the kroner/US dollar exchange rate is about 7:1).  Moreover, not only has this sentence made international news, it also has netted Norway's government a nice chunk of change that it can use on rehabilitation programming or other crime prevention measures.

May 12, 2009 at 03:04 PM | Permalink


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This was the business model of the Inquisition. The lawyer forgot 10th Grade World History. The heretics, the Jews, the Moslems, the industrious Huguenots were burned at the stake, and forfeited their holdings to guess whom. The church.

Only the guillotine and the execution of prelates by the 100's interrupted that neat scam. The judge in the above case and all running dogs of this scheme need to be beheaded. They are land pirates.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 12, 2009 7:24:48 PM

A normal penalty would be just a casino chip for someone as wealthy as this and we really do want people to remember that driving 9 times over the limit is an awfully bad thing to do dont we SC?
The only people in danger of being ripped asunder here were those in the path of the drunk driver.

Posted by: J O | May 13, 2009 11:48:43 AM

You are suggesting a progressive fining system, similar to the progressive income tax. I don't know if the Norwegian constitution has an equal protection clause. If this fine were in the US, would there be a problem? Perhaps fines should be set at a percent of income.

This brings the question of what works, and lawmaking, and judicial invention as unauthorized human experimentation. That subject is too big for a brief comment. Lawyers forget that.

Here is another issue Prof. Berman is not spotting, and it is about him.

He likes lenient punishments for destitute violent criminals. They generate lawyer make work.

He likes astronomical fines for the rich. They generate income for government, a wholly owned subsidiary of the criminal cult enterprise.

It is a coincidence, perhaps.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 13, 2009 4:55:36 PM

I don't know about you, but I think that's fair. It probably impacting him like it would impact the $10 an hour person that have a $500 ticket. Next time he will probably think twice about getting into his vehicle under the influence.

Posted by: Ajlouny | May 28, 2009 10:23:22 PM

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