Options if you get an infringement notice

There are several options available if you get an infringement notice. Remember time limits apply to the options available and if you ignore an infringement notice you will get additional fees and possibly an infringement warrant. Advice is available from your local community legal centre.

Brief summary of options

If you receive an infringement notice, you have several choices about what to do. There are a number of stages in the infringements system, and your options change according to the stage the matter has reached. Before you decide what to do, it is worth looking at all the available options to see which one best fits your particular situation.

Whatever you choose to do, be aware of the time limits involved: if you wait too long, it may be too late for you to take the option that would be best for you.

If you are unsure what to do, you can ask for help from a financial counselling service (see Financial counselling services), or from a community legal centre, Victoria Legal Aid or other source of legal advice (see Legal services that can help). There may be a waiting list for assistance, so it is best to contact the support agency as soon as possible if you need help.

The options available to you at various stages of the infringements system process are to:

  • do nothing (not recommended);
  • pay the penalty;
  • ask for the notice to be cancelled or withdrawn;
  • ask for a review of the decision to issue the notice;
  • nominate another driver (for motor vehicle offences);
  • ask for more time to pay;
  • arrange to pay by instalments;
  • take the matter to the Magistrates’ Court;
  • apply to have the enforcement order “revoked” or cancelled;
  • do community work instead of paying the penalty; or
  • go to prison.

Some of these options are only available at certain stages of the infringements system process or in relation to certain types of fine, and some have different results depending on when they are put into effect. For further information, see “The Infringement procedure” options and results table.

Deciding which option to take

Before you make up your mind about which option is best for your situation, it is important to be clear about exactly how much you owe in penalties. You may also have other infringement notices outstanding that you are not aware of, for example if you have moved address and not received infringement notices.

If you are not sure how much you owe, you can obtain this information from fines.vic.gov.au or the Infringements Court. If you are requesting this information from either the Infringements Court or Civic Compliance Victoria, you may be asked to supply the following information:

  • your full name (including middle name), and any previous names you have been known by;
  • your date of birth.
  • your current address and any contact phone numbers, and any previous addresses where you might have received infringement notices.

Be careful about providing your current address to officials working at the Infringements Court or Civic Compliance, as this information could be passed on to the sheriff who may then take action against you to execute any outstanding infringement warrants (seeWhat happens if I take no action“ for more information). If you are not comfortable providing your current address to the Infringements Court or Civic Compliance Victoria, you can offer to provide the following additional information and documentation to help them search for your outstanding fines:

  • your driver’s licence number, if you may have any parking or traffic infringements;
  • a photocopy of identification documents; and
  • where possible, details of where, when and what types of fines or infringement notices you may have incurred, including any “˜obligation number’ (this will be written on any infringement notice you receive).

If someone else (e.g. a financial counsellor or community legal service worker) is obtaining the information for you, you will also need to sign a form authorising that person to obtain it on your behalf.

If any fines are less than 56 days old, they will not have been lodged with the Infringements Court yet, in which case you will need to write to the relevant enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Transport (for most public transport fines), Victoria Police and/or local councils, for details of unpaid fines that are still at agency level. The relevant enforcement agency will be identified on any infringement notices or penalty reminder notices that you have.

Your options: a step-by-step summary

The following table summarises the process as set out in “What happens after the notice is issued?”, and your options for dealing with your outstanding fines at each stage of the process. Each of the options is described in more detail below.

The infringements procedure

STAGE TIME LIMIT OPTIONS AND RESULTS
1 Infringement notice
(penalty set by legislation)
 As specified on notice (usually 28 days but may be longer)
  • Pay penalty:
    • payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • payment not completed ““ go to stage 2
  • Ask agency to waive the fine:
    • application granted ““ no further action
    • application rejected ““ pay the penalty within prescribed time or go to stage 2
  • Apply for internal review on basis of “˜special circumstances’:
    • application granted ““ no further action
    • application rejected ““ fine will be referred to open court (refer to section on “Going to Court” in main text)
  • Apply for internal review on basis of “˜exceptional circumstances’:
    • application granted ““ no further action
    • application rejected ““ pay the penalty within prescribed time or go to stage 2
  • Ask for more time to pay or payment by instalments:
    • application granted and payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • application rejected or payment not completed ““ go to stage 2
  • Take the matter to the Magistrates’ Court (refer to section on “Going to Court” in main text).
  • Do nothing ““ go to stage 2
  • Nominate other driver (motor vehicle offences):
    • If nomination is accepted the agency will pursue the nominated driver
    • If agency refuses nomination, it may recommence action against you within six months of refusing the nomination ““ go to stage 3

Note: some specific offences (e.g. excessive speeding 25km/h or greater) must be nominated within 28 days of receiving infringement.

2 Penalty Reminder notice
(penalty; extra costs)
 28 days
  • Pay penalty and costs:
    • payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • payment not completed ““ go to stage 3
  • Ask agency to waive the fine:
    • application granted ““ no further action
    • application rejected ““ either pay the penalty within prescribed time or go to stage 3.

Note: You cannot make a second request for waiver if a request was already rejected at stage 1.

    • Apply for internal review on basis of “˜special circumstances’:
      • application granted ““ no further action
      • application rejected ““ fine will be referred to open court (refer to section on “Going to Court”)

Note: You cannot make a second request for internal review if a request was already rejected at stage 1.

  • Ask for more time to pay or payment by instalments:
    • application granted and payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • application rejected or payment not completed ““ go to stage 3
  • Do nothing ““ go to stage 3
  • Nominate other driver:
    • agency has 12 months to act against other driver
    • if agency cancels nomination, it may recommence action within six months of cancellation ““ go to stage 3
  • Take the matter to the Magistrates’ Court
3 Registration with Infringements Court ““ notice of enforcement order
(penalty and costs; further costs added)
 28 days
  • Pay penalty and all added costs:
    • payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • payment not completed ““ go to stage 4
  • Ask Infringements Court for extension of time to pay, variation of costs and/or payment by instalments:
    • application granted and payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • application rejected or payment not completed ““ go to stage 4
  • Do nothing ““ go to stage 4
  • Apply to Infringements Court for revocation of enforcement order
    • revocation granted and infringement notice withdrawn by agency ““ no further action
    • revocation granted but notice not withdrawn ““ matter referred to Magistrates’ Court (see “Going to court” in main text)
    • revocation not granted ““ appeal decision, lodge new application (2 max without leave of court), or go to stage 4
  • Apply to Infringements Court for revocation of enforcement order on basis of special circumstances (see “Revocation applications where you have “˜special circumstances” below):
    • revocation granted and infringement notice withdrawn by agency ““ no further action
    • revocation granted but notice not withdrawn ““ matter referred to Magistrates’ Court (see “Going to court ““ Application for Revocation ““ special circumstances application” in main text)
    • revocation not granted ““ appeal decision, lodge new application (2 max without leave of court), or go to stage 4
4 Infringement warrant ““ notice of seizure of assets
(penalty and costs; further costs added)
 7 days
  • Pay penalty and all added costs:
    • payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • payment not completed ““ go to stage 5
  • Ask Infringements Court for extension of time to pay, variation of costs and/or payment by instalments:
    • application granted and payment completed on time ““ no further action
    • application rejected or payment not completed ““ go to stage 5
  • Do nothing ““ go to stage 5
  • Apply to Infringements Court within 7 days for revocation of enforcement order:
    • revocation granted and infringement notice withdrawn by agency ““ no further action
    • revocation granted but notice not withdrawn ““ matter referred to Magistrates’ Court (see “Going to court ““ Application for Revocation ““ special circumstances application” in main text)
    • revocation not granted ““ appeal decision, lodge new application (2 max without leave of court), or go to stage 5
5 Execution of warrant ““ infringement action(including seizure and sale of assets, licence suspension and cancellation, wheel clamping)  Immediate
  • Pay penalty and all added costs before seizure:
    • payment completed ““ no further action
  • Allow goods to be seized and sold by auction:
    • proceeds from sale enough to settle debt ““ no further action
    • no assets or proceeds from sale not enough to settle debt ““ go to stage 6
  • Other enforcement measures including:
    • detention, immobilisation and sale of motor vehicles
    • suspension of drivers’ licence and registration of motor vehicle or trailer
    • attachment of earning and debt orders
    • charges over and sale of real property
6 Arrest  Immediate or after asset sale
  • If eligible, agree to conditions of CWP (intensively supervised community work):
    • complete CWP to settle debt
    • breach conditions of CWP ““ go to Magistrates’ Court (see “Going to court”, main text)
  • If ineligible for, or not willing to accept CWP, appear in Magistrates’ Court
    • sentenced in Magistrates’ Court under section 160 of the Infringements Act (refer to “Going to Court ““ Infringement Warrant Enforcement Hearings”).

NOTE

Some types of motor vehicle infringements (for excessive speed and drink-driving offences) are classified as licence loss infringements. These carry more severe penalties, have stricter time limits than other infringements, and there are fewer options available to deal with the infringements, so it is particularly important to act quickly if you receive one of these notices. For details of procedures and time limits for traffic offences, see “Infringement notices“ in Driving offences.

NOTE

Young people (under 18 years) are dealt with differently under the infringements system. Agencies issuing infringement notices are able to accept payment from young people and a young person can also apply for a payment plan or a review of the decision by the enforcement agency. However, if an infringement is not paid by a young person, the relevant agency’s only options are to take no further action or elect to enforce the infringement penalty by filing a charge and issuing a summons for the young person to appear in the Children’s Court. Infringement notices issued to young persons cannot be registered with the Infringements Court and so the enforcement powers under an infringement warrant are not available. For court procedures and sentencing options applicable to young people, see The Children’s Court.