Varying fines for like traffic offences

Kiirusemõõtmine. PHOTO: Peeter Kümmel / Sakala

As revealed by analysis of traffic fines imposed, punishments may greatly vary in Estonia, regionally.

For instance: in Western Prefecture, unused safety equipment brings a fine half the size of that elsewhere in Estonia. Also, Western and Eastern Prefectures are a lot more lenient while fining speeders.

And even though one would expect the heftiest drunk driving fines in the wealthier North-Estonia, the «poorer» South has pulled ahead of most of the pack.

Such would be a short summary of analysis by Postimees regarding traffic-related punishments dealt by police in 2012 and first seven months of 2013.

In the opinion of Police and Border Guard Board, such regional variance in punishment policy is something entirely normal. «The differing average fines, between prefectures, serve to show that the policemen have no definite prescribed fine amounts for definite offences,» said Riho Tänak, head of traffic monitoring service. 

According to him, the varying punishment practice provides for consideration of regional differences while imposing fines, as well as of the more critical problems of moment. «Up to now, prefectures have had such options and we are not planning any changes regarding that. Even in the tiny Estonia, there are peculiarities in traffic condition and traffic behaviour. Therefore, we also tolerate the dozens-of-percents differences in average fines.»

Postimees felt spurred to investigate sizes of fines by recent article by sworn advocate Leon Glikman who compared Estonia to a «finestate». The analysis shows, however, that over the years the overall amount of fines has actually decreased multiple times.

That also being the argument pressed by police. «Over the years, number of punishments imposed in traffic supervision has decreased so drastically that there can be no talk of a finestate, in our opinion,» said Mr Tänak.

According to him, traffic supervision scope has indeed increased over the past year; even so, the police impose fewer fines – by a third.

«We have substantially cut formalising warnings in written form, as with minor offences a conversation is as effective. The time saved will be used to deal with the more dangerous offences,» added Mr Tänak.