Fines in South Australia can be imposed by a court under the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988, or by Police officers and prescribed officers and employees of councils and many other statutory authorities who have been given the authority to issue an expiation notice.
An expiation notice may be given instead of a summons for you to attend court. Even where an expiation notice can be issued for an offence, the authority can still choose to issue you with a summons.
A notice may be:
- handed to you personally (such as where a police officer detects an offence while on duty)
- posted to you (for example, from a camera-detected offence)
- attached to your vehicle (for parking offences).
Expiation notices are governed by the Expiation of Offences Act 1996.
For all fines in South Australia imposed by a Court, payment is due within 28 days. If you can’t pay it in full within that time you may enter into an arrangement with the Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit (FERU) (after paying a fee) to:
- pay it by instalments
- extend the time to pay
- take a charge over land
- surrender property to the FERU
- pay it by deductions from a bank account, wages or similar.
If you are an undischarged bankrupt or you have previously faced enforcement action, the FERU may refuse to enter into an arrangement with you or may require you to provide security or obtain guarantees.
They also have the power to waive payment of the whole or part of the fine.
If you commit a traffic offence, you may receive a Police expiation notice and have to pay a fine. The notice can either be a handwritten notice from a police officer or a computer generated notice from a speed or red-light camera.
Expiation notices for camera-detected offences are sent to the vehicle’s registered owner. If they were not the driver at the time of the offence, a statutory declaration can be completed nominating the driver. If the offence is disputed, you can elect to have the matter heard in court.
You can pay the notice:
- online at SAPOL e-pay
- at any Service SA customer service centre
- at your local court
- by phone on 1800 659 538.
For fines in South Australia which are issued in the form of an expiation notice, the notice must state the offence it is alleged you have committed and set out an expiation fee (fine). You can choose to pay that amount rather than be prosecuted.
The notice must be in a particular format, must specify the authority to whom you must pay the fine, and must give you 28 days to pay. It must be issued within 6 months of the date of the offence and before the start of any prosecution against you for the offence.
With it, you will receive a notice that you can complete if you choose to take the matter to court. If the notice is defective it may be withdrawn and in some instances may be corrected and re-issued.
You have several options in respect of the notice, but you must act within the 28 days. Your options are:
- expiate the offence by paying the fine
- apply for a review of the notice
- elect to take the matter to court
- enter into a payment arrangement. If you do this you can no longer elect to take the matter to court or apply for a review on the ground the notice is trifling.
If you have done nothing about the fine by the end of the payment period, you will be issued with a reminder notice. It may include further costs for reminding you which are added to your fine. After a further 14 days, the fine will be referred to the FERU.
- pay the amount owed in full
- apply to have the enforcement determination revoked or varied
- apply for review by the Court of the enforcement determination.
If you do nothing in relation to fines in South Australia, the FERU has a wide range of enforcement powers.
- Whether or not the offence is traffic related, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles may be directed not to transact any business with you and to suspend your driver’s licence.
- It can publish the names of registered companies or individuals who have overdue fines.
- Your assets can be seized and sold.
- The fine can be deducted from your wages or bank accounts (garnisheed).
- Your motor vehicle can be clamped or impounded and may be sold.
- If you can’t afford to pay, the fine may be converted to a Community Service Order.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 19 November 2015. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.