The content on this site is information only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.
Receiving an infringement notice can be a shock, especially if you’re not sure how you’ll pay. Learn more about your rights, responsibilities and options for fines and infringements.
An infringement is the financial penalty for breaking the law. Often, people use the terms fines and infringements to mean the same thing.
An infringement notice is the notice you receive that says:
Infringements are issued for minor breaches of the law. The idea is to issue a penalty (to discourage you from breaking the law again) while keeping the offence out of Court.
Fines (infringements) can apply in many different circumstances, for offences including:
Victoria Police can issue infringement notices, as well as local councils, the Department of Transport Victoria, the Victorian Electoral Commission, and other bodies (also known as enforcement agencies).
You will find out about your fine (infringement) when you receive the infringement notice. The infringement notice can be:
The notice will state:
If you can’t pay the infringement, you need to check your infringement notice for options about what to do.
Most of the time, you have 21 days to pay your infringement, but you need to check your infringement notice to confirm this. If you can’t pay, you must take action before the deadline.
Generally, your options may include:
The infringement notice will include payment options and contact details. Some infringements are payable through Fines Victoria and some directly through the enforcement agency, for example the local council.
If you ignore the infringement notice, you risk not paying by the due date.
If this happens, the authority may take further action against you, which may include:
Every time an infringement moves to the next stage of the process, the amount you’re required to pay increases. At each stage, the infringement becomes more difficult to challenge, and there are fewer options. Don’t ignore an infringement.
You must act before the due date. If you receive an infringement and you’re not sure what to do, contact us as soon as possible for advice.
When an infringement notice is issued but remains unpaid, and you don’t raise any issues or exercise your options, your infringement notice goes through the following stages:
When you receive an infringement notice, how you deal with it will depend on the circumstances leading to the offence. You may be surprised to learn that there are many options about what you can do, depending on the situation.
Your options are to:
Pay the infringement
If you agree that you committed the offence, you can pay the infringement. Make sure you pay before the due date. If you pay on time, that ends the matter, with no further legal action.
If you pay the infringement, you can’t appeal or dispute it. If you think there’s an issue, don’t pay it straight away. To challenge the infringement, you must act before the due date.
However, sometimes infringements are accompanied by other penalties, particularly in traffic matters, for example, demerit points and licence suspension.
Tell the authority you’re not the responsible person
If you weren’t driving the car at the time of the offence, you must nominate another person before the due date. You can do this by following the instructions on the infringement notice.
If you’re successful, the Police will withdraw the infringement notice and issue another notice to the person who was driving the car.
You can ask the authority to review the infringement notice if you believe you shouldn’t have received it. This is also known as an internal review. If the review is successful, the authority may decide to withdraw the notice.
For a red light or speeding offence, you can view an image of the infringement. This can be useful if you believe the light wasn’t red when you entered an intersection, or if you believe someone else committed the offence.
Circumstances in which you may ask for a review include:
Once your infringement notice has been reviewed, you can’t ask for another review for the same incident.
For more information, see Important points to remember
Go to Court
You may decide to go straight to Court if you believe you have reasonable grounds to challenge. For some offences, you must make an application to Court at the infringement and penalty reminder notice stage. It is important to check the infringement for any time limits.
If you challenge an infringement in Court, the infringement is withdrawn, and then you are issued a charge and summons. It means the Magistrates’ Court will hear your matter as a criminal matter. If you are found guilty, or if you plead guilty, a conviction may be recorded against you. Regardless of the outcome at Court, the result will appear on your criminal record.
We recommend that you seek legal advice before challenging any infringement in Court.
Apply to change the payment terms
If you can’t pay the full amount of the infringement by the due date, you may be able to get an extension of time to pay or arrange payment by instalments (payment of smaller amounts at regular intervals, commonly called a payment plan).
You can apply for either an extension of time or an instalment plan, and Fines Victoria will work out whether you’re eligible. It will take into account:
For more information, visit Fines Victoria’s website pages about:
There are also other options. If you’re a survivor of family violence, you may be able to apply to have the infringement withdrawn.
Applying to have the infringement withdrawn due to family violence is different from applying under special circumstances. If you apply for reasons of family violence, you must show that:
There is a Work and Development Permit for other people experiencing financial hardship, homelessness, mental health problems and addiction. The scheme allows some applicants to work off their infringements.
Get help from FineFixer
FineFixer is an interactive website which helps you work out your options. Use your infringement notice to answer the questions, and FineFixer will work out the best approach.
If your infringement notice moves through different stages because it’s unpaid and you haven’t exercised an option, it’s important to know that your options change at every step.
|Infringement Notice||Penalty Reminder Notice||Notice of Final Demand||Enforcement Warrant||7 Day Notice||7 Day Notice expires|
|Pay the infringement||Pay the infringement plus extra fees|
|Extension of time to pay||-||-||-||-|
|Nominate the responsible person to pay the infringement||-||-||-||-|
|Take the matter to Court||-||-||-||-|
|Ask for an internal review||Ask for an enforcement review||-|
|Make a payment arrangement||-|
|Apply for a Work and Development Permit||-|
|Apply under the Family Violence Scheme||-|
|-||-||-||-||-||Property seized or sold, community work or imprisonment|
Jakub lost his job a few months ago, and soon afterwards, was evicted from his rental home because he ran out of money to pay the rent. Since then, he has slept in his car, or occasionally on a couch at his friend Bob’s house. Jakub’s mental health has worsened over this time. He recently visited a medical clinic and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. A caseworker from the Salvation Army was helping him find a place to live, as well as a new job.
One night, Jakub drove through an intersection on a red light. There was a Police car behind him. The Police stopped him and gave him an infringement notice for speeding and driving through a red light. At this time, Jakub hadn’t eaten for two days, because he had no money.
Jakub was worried that he would lose his licence and that his car would be deregistered because he couldn’t pay the infringement. Jakub’s anxiety and depression increased because of this.
Bob was worried. He made an appointment for Jakub at Barwon Community Legal Service (BCLS).
The BCLS solicitor explained to Jakub that he may qualify for special circumstances because:
The BCLS lawyer helped Jakub arrange:
Victoria Police accepted Jakub’s application for special circumstances and withdrew the infringement notice. Jakub was instead given a warning not to drive his car if he felt drowsy or unable to drive properly.
If you have a genuine reason to challenge it, do not pay the infringement. Instead, contact the authority before the due date and discuss your options, which may include:
For more information, see If I receive an infringement notice, what are my options?
If someone else was driving your car and committed a traffic offence, usually the infringement notice is sent to you as the owner of the vehicle. You can fill in a form declaring that another person was the driver. If this is successful, the enforcement agency may withdraw the notice and issue a new notice to the other person.
Usually, you can only nominate another person when your infringement is at the stage where an infringement notice or a penalty reminder notice is issued.
Even if a situation is out of your control due to special circumstances, an infringement notice can be issued against you. However, the law recognises that sometimes this penalty is too severe. Your infringement may be withdrawn if you meet the criteria for special circumstances. You must also apply to Fines Victoria to ask that it takes your circumstances into account.
You can apply for special circumstances if you either:
Categories for special circumstances include:
You’ll need some evidence that demonstrates your special circumstance and why it may have caused you to break the law. Depending on your circumstance, this may include reports or letters from:
If you’re experiencing special circumstances, you may be in a vulnerable situation.
For more information, see Important points to remember below.
You should receive an infringement notice either at the time of the offence, in the mail or left on your property (for example, taped to the windscreen of your car). However, sometimes notices are lost or misplaced.
If you’re concerned that you may have an infringement but you don’t have the notice, you can contact Fines Victoria to find out. If you know your infringement notice number, you can log into the Fines Victoria website to view your infringements and to seek more information.
Not all infringements are registered with Fines Victoria, for example, local council fines. If you believe you have outstanding infringements, check with Fines Victoria for updates. You may need to do this more than once.
If a local council or the Department of Transport issued your infringement, you will have to contact those enforcement agencies for more information.
Sometimes, the first you know about the infringement is when you receive a Penalty Reminder Notice. In these circumstances, you have 14 days from the time you first knew about the infringement to apply for an internal review under the category of person unaware.
If you become aware of an infringement for the first time when you receive a Notice of Demand or a warrant, the matter has progressed into the final stages, and you need to act quickly. Depending on the situation, you can apply to the Magistrates’ Court or Fines Victoria. If the matter has reached this point, strict time limits apply. Contact us for urgent legal advice.
You must always keep your address updated with VicRoads. Failure to update your address isn’t a reasonable excuse for missing an infringement notice.
Last modified on April 29th, 2021 at 9:55 am
The content on this site is information only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.