Updated: Sep 2
Photo Courtesy: Avarie Woodard collected from Unsplash
We often find ourselves in a situation where we are subjected to a fine. Generally, getting a fine creates uncertainty and panic in most of us. I often get the question that what shall you do if I get an infringement notice? In this article, I will discuss the options you have you have if you receive a fine and the consequence of failure to pay one. This is to help you to make the right decision on time.
An infringement notice or fine is a penalty for breaking the law. You might have to pay money as a fine if the authorities have reason to believe that you have broken a law. The infringement notice will tell you –
what your offence was,
how much you have to pay as fine, and
when do you have to pay the fine?
It is sensible not to ignore a fine. If you ignore a fine, it does not go away. It will only get bigger with time. Generally, you will have 21 days from the date of issuance of the fine to take action. You should check the due date for the payment as soon as you receive the infringement notice. If you do not take any action before the due date, you will have to pay more money as a non-compliance fee or go to court.
1. What are the reasons for getting a fine?
Fines are usually issued due to the following reasons :
driving offences like speeding, breaking traffic rules;
driving without an e-tag on certain roads;
not having the right ticket on public transport.
failure to observe COVID 19 restrictions
Police can issue on-the-spot fines to people aged over 18 years for common offences like:
being drunk in public,
drunk and disorderly behaviour in public,
possession of a weapon (e.g. a knife or a gun),
using indecent language in public,
offensive behaviour in public,
consuming or supplying liquor on unlicensed premises,
failure to leave licensed premises when requested,
trying to enter or hanging around a licensed place where they have been barred by a barring order.
Failure to follow public health and safety directions.
2. What are your options for dealing with fines?
You have the following options for dealing with fines:
to pay the fine in full by following the instructions provided on the infringement notice,
to ask the agency or the authorities for a payment plan if you think that you will need more time to pay,
to ask the agency or the authorities to review your fine if you do not agree with their decision,
to apply for a work and development permit,
to apply for the family violence scheme,
to choose to go to the Magistrates’ Court to challenge the fine,
If you are fined for a driving offence and you were not the driver at the time of the offence, you can get the fine transferred to the person who was driving at that time. You will need to do this within 28 days of receiving the fine. You will not have the option to do this after a warrant is issued. You need to take this step immediately to avoid extra costs.
3. What happens if you fail to pay your fines?
If you fail to pay the fine within the prescribed time, you may have to pay more. Alternatively, you can go to court to challenge the fine. Following are the steps that follow if you do not pay your fine-
i) Reminder notices-
If you do not pay the fine by the due date, you will get a penalty reminder notice. The agency will charge you extra costs for each reminder notice. The new amount will be on the notice with a revised due date. You must pay the fine and the extra costs by the due date on the notice.
At this stage, you can still either request for a payment plan or ask for a review, or go to the Magistrates’ Court to challenge the fine. This must be done before the fine will be sent to Fines Victoria.
If you fail to pay the penalty reminder notice on time, the agency will register your fine with Fines Victoria. If Fines Victoria considers that the fine should be enforced, they will serve you with a notice of final demand. Fines Victoria will charge you extra costs for the notice. You will usually have 21 days to pay the entire amount.
If you fail to pay at this stage, Fines Victoria will act to enforce the fine. Fines Victoria may take the following measures:
It may direct you to produce information; or
It may apply for a summons for oral examination in which you will have to explain your financial circumstances for not paying the fine;
It may organise to attach your wages or bank account ;
It may direct VicRoads to suspend your driver licence or vehicle registration; or
It may put a charge over any land you own.
iii) Enforcement warrants-
If you still fail to pay the fine, Fines Victoria will apply to the court for an enforcement warrant. This warrant will stay in place until you pay the fine. The warrant will allow the sheriff to take action against you to recover the debt.
However, the sheriff will not be able to take any action against you until they have served a seven-day notice on you. That will be your final warning. After those seven days, the sheriff can come to your home to get the money or take property from you to pay off the fine. The court will be charging you extra costs again for processes.
If you do not have enough money or property to cover the debt, the sheriff can arrest you. At this stage, you may be released on a community work permit or you may be bailed to appear in the Magistrates’ Court. If you have to go to the Magistrates’ Court, the magistrate can send you to jail. However, the Magistrate will do that as the last resort.
4. How do you deal with court fines?
A court fine is a fine that is ordered by a court after a person is found guilty by the court of a criminal offence. If the fine is not paid to court on the same day the court order has been made, the magistrate may choose to refer court fines to Fines Victoria for collection and enforcement.
Once these fines are registered against you, you must pay to Fines Victoria, not to the court. Fines Victoria will send a ‘Court fine collection statement’ to you with the details of the fine. The statement will tell you the amount and the date when the fine is due. If the court has made an instalment order, Fines Victoria will enforce the fine according to that court order.
If the fine is not paid before the due date, Fines Victoria will serve you a notice of final demand. That will give you 21 days to pay the fine. If the fine is still not paid, Fines Victoria will begin enforcement action against you in the same way it enforces unpaid infringements.
If you have received an infringement notice and need more information about what you should do about it or if you want to challenge an infringement notice in court and want to find the best lawyer who can help you with that process, please contact us at www.lawcircuit.com.au or call us on 0418631798 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are here to make your legal journey easier. We will connect with the best legal services that you will need to solve your problem.