I’m fined how are you?

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Many of us received at least one infringement notice in the last 12 months. Last year alone 5.32 million infringements were issued in Victoria. Just over 3 million were in relation to traffic violations. Infringements are the second most common legal issue we help people with at St Kilda Legal Service. The most important advice we could give to anyone is never to ignore your fines, they will never go away unless you deal with them.

An infringement or fine is a penalty for breaking the law. A notice to pay a fine is called an infringement notice. Fines can be issued on the spot, attached to your car or mailed to you. After your anger at receiving the notice subsides- read the notice very carefully. Make a note of the “issuing authority” (the organisation who issued the notice) and the due date for the fine. If you do not understand the information on the notice you should contact the organisation that gave you the notice or seek legal assistance as soon as possible.

The amount you’re fined depends on which law was allegedly broken and the number of penalty units attached to it. As of the 1st of July 2016 one penalty unit is worth $155.46. For example, if you’re fined for going over the speed limit by less than 35km/hour your maximum fine could be 10 penalty units equalling $1,554.60.

When you first receive a fine you have several options for dealing with it. You can pay for the fine, ask for additional time to pay the fine or apply for a payment plan. You can request an internal review or elect to go to court to have the matter formally determined by a Magistrate. You could also nominate another driver.

If you apply for an internal review you must prove that there was a mistake in the decision to give you the fine or that you have special or exceptional circumstances which justify why you broke the law for which you received the fine.

To make an application for special circumstances you must have a mental health condition or addiction or are homeless. You must then explain how this condition or circumstance caused you to break the law to receive the infringement and provide evidence to support your claim.

Exceptional circumstances are not defined under the law and could include a range of situations including family violence. You must show that because of this issue you should be excused your obligation to pay the fine.

If you do not pay the fine or make an application for internal review by the due date you will be issued with a Penalty Reminder Notice, and $24.50 will be added to the original fine amount.

At this stage to apply for internal review, special circumstances or exceptional circumstances you must complete an internal review form and send your form to the Civic Compliance office.

If you do not pay the fine or make an application for internal review by the due date of the Penalty Reminder Notice you will be issued with an Enforcement Order and $105.10 is added to the original fine amount.

If an Enforcement Order is made against you, you will get a notice giving you a further 28 days to pay or take other action.

If you fail to take action by the due date of the Enforcement Order a warning of an Infringement Warrant pending will be sent to you and $165.90 is added to the original fine amount.

If you do not take action an Infringement Warrant may be issued by the Infringements Court.

After you receive the Enforcement Order but before the Warrant is issued you can apply for internal review, special circumstances or exceptional circumstances by completing a revocation form and sending it to the Infringements Court.

If you continue to do nothing a Seven Day Notice will be issued and served on you, this is your final warning. You can do one of three things: pay the outstanding amount in full, apply for a payment order (to pay the amount in instalments) or apply for revocation. An application for revocation is an application to cancel the enforcement order, referring the matter back to the Infringements Court to consider special circumstances or exceptional circumstances.

At the end of the of the seven days the Sherriff can seize and sell your assets, suspend your driver licence and/or registration, put a wheel clamp on your car and possibly arrest you.

If you live within the City of Port Phillip, Stonnington or Bayside Councils we may be able to assist you. Call St Kilda Legal Service on 9534 0777 to make an appointment for our night service which operates from 7:00pm on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday.

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