In December 2017, Civic Compliance was replaced by Fines Victoria as part of the Fines Reform Act. Victorians wanting to pay or deal with infringements (also known as ‘on the spot fines’) must now do so through Fines Victoria. Fines can be paid online, by phone, mail or by BPAY.
If a person receives a fine and has a valid reason why the fine should be withdrawn, they may seek an internal review of the infringement through Fines Victoria. However, there are some types of infringements that cannot be reviewed internally and which can only be challenged in court.
It is also possible to nominate another person as being responsible for the offence if you were not in possession or control of the vehicle at the time, by filling in this form.
Internal review by Fines Victoria
Most Infringement Notices and Penalty Reminder Notices can be reviewed by Fines Victoria. A review means that the infringement is sent back to the authority that issued it, along with any evidence you have submitted, to be reassessed. A person can request a review of an infringement by entering the details online on the Fines Victoria website, or by writing to Fines Victoria.
You can seek a review of an infringement based on any of the following
- The infringement was issued in error;
- The infringement should have been issued to someone else;
- There are exceptional circumstances which mean that you should not have to pay the fine;
- There are special circumstances;
- You did not know about the fine (this cannot be argued if the fine was personally given to you)
If you are going to seek review of an infringement, you must advise Fines Victoria of this before the date that payment is due. Fines Victoria will make a decision within 90 days and will notify you of its decision in writing. It may decide to cancel the fine, change the fine to a warning, or take no action. Each infringement is allowed one internal review.
Electing to have an infringement dealt with by a court
Infringements that CANNOT be reviewed internally are fines for:
- Excessive speed – this is any speeding infringement where the person is caught 25 kilometres or more over the speed limit;
- Drink driving; or
- Drug driving.
A person who receives an infringement for one of these offences and wants to challenge it must elect to have the matter heard by a court. The decision to take an infringement to court may have merit if you are disputing that you are responsible for the offence or that the infringement notice should ever have been issued. However, it is important to note that if the court finds you guilty of the offence, the penalty you receive is likely to be the same if not greater than the penalty given in the original infringement notice. This is because while magistrates can go OVER the penalties on the infringement notice, they have no discretion to go under.
Once an Infringement becomes a ‘Final Demand’, the process for obtaining review is a little different. Instead of the request for review going to the authority that issued it, it goes to the director of Fines. While under the old system, a person in this situation had the option of applying for Revocation, this process does not exist under the new system. A person subject to a Final Demand can now request an Enforcement Review from the Director of Fines. If the Director grants the request, the Notice of Final Demand is canceled, and the infringement is referred back to the originating agency for review. If the Director of Fines decides not to grant the request, there is no longer a process for review and the offender must pay the fine.
What if I don’t pay?
If the offender does not pay the fine, an enforcement warrant will issue. The Sheriff’s office will request the fine be paid and if this does not happen, a 7 day Notice will be issued. This is your last chance to pay the fine and have no further action taken. After this, you can no longer apply for a payment extension, or ask for a payment arrangement, or request a review. This is, effectively, the end of the road.
The earlier an infringement is addressed, the more choices are available. Take the time to look closely at your infringement notice. If there was another driver at the time, nominate them. Otherwise consider organising a payment plan, or seek legal advice about requesting an internal review, before the fine grows, the available options diminish, and the sheriff arrives.
By Kerry Schroeder, Solicitor