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A fine is supposed to be a price. If the only purpose was deterrence then why isn't every offense a capital one and every fine in the amount of "everything you've got"?

Taxes are something else entirely. Income taxes aren't intended to put a price on working so that people won't do it unless it's worth the cost, they're intended to raise government revenue.

A fine is supposed to be a deterrent so it needs to be high enough to deter.

It's supposed to be a price.

Suppose there are fines for both texting while driving and blocking traffic. Now someone is driving in a place where they can't stop without blocking traffic, when they think of a piece of information that they need someone else to know as an urgent matter of life and death.

If they don't send the information right away their kid is going to die. No fine is going to deter them from that. To account for the probability of getting caught, the deterrence-level penalty would have to be something like death for you and your whole family.

I assume nobody is going suggest that the penalty for blocking traffic should be that the government will snuff out your bloodline. Because that's disproportionate, because the fine is supposed to be a price -- and in that case it's one worth paying, because the alternative is worse, so that's what we should want to happen. It's not a problem that we failed to deter someone from blocking traffic for a minute in order to save their child. "Fixing" things so that we actually deter them from that (and then their child dies) is not an improvement.

And the same is true for less drastic events that are still worth more than the cost of blocking traffic for a minute. Which is why a fine is a price, proportional to the harm.

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