Fines in Tasmania
Fines are monetary penalties levied against a person for breaking the law. A fine may be known as an infringement notice, penalty notice, an “on the spot” fine, ticket or Police Infringement Notice (PINS). The police and courts issue fines as a penalty for infringements and more serious offences. Additionally, local councils and other entities with government authority (such as state transit officers) can issue fines for breach of local ordinances or regulations. This article further explains fines in Tasmania.
Who can impose fines in Tasmania?
Only statutory bodies (that is, bodies created through legislation) have the authority to issue fines in Tasmania. Statutory fines are often in the form of penalty units.
When someone receives an infringement notice from the Tasmanian State Government, they must do one of the following within twenty-eight days of the issue date:
- Pay the fine;
- Apply to the Monetary Penalties Enforcement Service (MPES) to vary the payment conditions;
- Apply to the issuing authority for the fine to be withdrawn; or
- File a notice requesting a court hearing.
If the recipient does nothing, they are effectively convicted of the offence, as if they had paid the fine. With this type of deemed conviction, the person can apply for the conviction to be set aside as long as they have not already paid the infringement notice or applied to pay in instalments. To apply to set aside a deemed conviction, the person must provide the court with a copy of the infringement notice or enforcement order and a statutory declaration outlining the request and the reason for the delay in electing a court hearing.
An enforcement order can be issued for an unpaid infringement notice or court fine when the recipient has not paid or arranged for varied payments. Someone can also be served with an enforcement order if they were paying by agreed instalments but missed an instalment.
The recipient can apply to suspend the enforcement order within fourteen days of becoming aware of the order, or within six months of the service, whichever is earliest. This application should outline fully the reasons to suspend the enforcement order. Upon approval, the recipient must, within twenty-eight days, either pay the original penalty or apply to pay the balance by instalments. Alternatively, within the time period, the person can apply to the issuing authority asking them to withdraw the infringement notice or apply to the court to set aside or vary the order.
An individual who does not comply with an enforcement order is subject to enforcement sanctions. Each enforcement sanction attracts an additional charge on top of the original fine and enforcement order fee. The MPES can issue the following enforcement sanctions:
- Suspension of driver’s licence or eligibility to hold a licence;
- Suspension of registration for any vehicles;
- Publication of name, address, licence number and penalty details on the MPES website.
An enforcement warrant can also be issued to:
- impose a lien on any land the person partly or solely owns;
- seize or sell their property; or
- redirect funds from an employer, financial institution, or other entity holding their money.
The MPES can apply any number of sanctions at once, in any order. If property is sold, the person is liable for the costs incurred in the process.
Payment in full at any point halts enforcement action. The MPES may agree to cancel a licence or registration suspension if it is satisfied that the person will make the agreed-upon payments. This arrangement is only likely if the person has not previously defaulted on a repayment plan. Any other enforcement sanction will continue until payment is made in full.
A person who does not pay a fine even after an enforcement sanction is imposed is liable to be issued a warrant of commitment for imprisonment.
Private companies do not have the legal power to issue a statutory fine. However, a company may issue a private fine if a customer breaks an agreement. For instance, a store can charge fees for overdue videos, and a library can levy fines for overdue books. These fines are unlikely to be enforced beyond blocking the customer from further access to borrowing.
Private car parking companies will sometimes issue notices that are deliberately designed to look like legitimate infringement notices issued by government agencies. Legally, a private company can only demand “liquidated damages”. In most cases, these demands are legally unenforceable because the company must prove that it suffered damage or loss in the specified amount. If a private company wants to enforce a fine, it must file a Statement of Claim in the Magistrates Court. The MPES will not enforce these private notices, but the debtor will likely receive threatening communication from the private company and may also be threatened with legal action or debt collection.
Go To Court lawyers can answer any questions you have about the enforcement of fines in Tasmania. Please call 1300 636 846 or email for further information on this or any other legal matter.