The cabinet has called for the scrapping of suspended fines in favour of short prison terms as part of a reform of the criminal code.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said the aim was to re-establish confidence in the penal system and to take into account widespread demands for fair justice and punishment.
“Most people did not understand the system of suspended fines,” she told a news conference on Wednesday.
Introduced in 2007 to replace prison sentences of up to six months, suspended fines soon came in for public criticism particularly in cases of speeding drivers.
The bill, to be discussed by parliament, foresees the use of electronic bracelets or community work for offenders.
Michael Leupold, head of the Federal Justice Office, said the more frequent usage of these two options could help prevent further overcrowding of prisons.
The reform also seeks to re-introduce the right for courts to order the expulsion of criminal foreigners once they have served their jail terms.
The current system leaves the decision to expel certain categories of non-Swiss criminals to police authorities.
In 2010, Swiss voters approved a rightwing initiative for the automatic expulsion of any foreigner convicted of a crime, regardless of the misdeed. However, implementation of the initiative is still pending amid disagreement between the rightwingers and the government.