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Farmer Gets Life Sentence for Evading Highway Tolls

By Jason Beahm on January 19, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Man, and you thought fines were unreasonable in the U.S.? A court in China has announced that it is going to retry a farmer sentenced to life in prison for evading highway tolls. The case came under second review after public outcry over his harsh sentence.

According to the court, Shi Jianfeng committed fraud by avoiding highway tolls. Jianfeng apparently mounted fake military plates on his cars so he could bypass the tolls over 2,300 times, the Associated Press reports. Shi was convicted of driving through the tolls for eight months while running a business transporting gravel. The alleged violations added up to $560,000. That's a lot of tolls. He was fined an additional $302,000 for the violations.

However, Chinese citizens became upset about the verdict, pointing out that by contrast, rapists and murderers often received shorter sentences. That generally is a pretty strong moral and ethical argument. The public also took the event as an opportunity to complain that the tolls were too high in the first place. It certainly sounds like they are expensive. I'm no math major, but I divided $560,000 by 2,300 and came up with $243 in toll fees per trip.

The severity of the sentence in the case was due to the fact that he faked military items, including uniforms, Qu Xinjiu, a law professor at China University of Political Sciences and Law, told the Global Times.

By contrast here are some of the fare evasion penalties in the U.S:

  • New York: $25
  • California: $47.50
  • New Jersey: $50

Suddenly they seem so cheap and reasonable, don't they?

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