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.
A fine is the financial penalty for breaking the law. An infringement is the offence you have committed. 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.
Infringements can be issued 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.
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. Generally your options to deal with your fine depend on the stage that is at. Please see ‘If I receive an infringement, what are my options’ section.
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 (the first stage of the infringements lifecycle), 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 at the infringement and penalty reminder notice stage are:
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. Please see below for the review options available.
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 who issued you the fine, 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.
These are the various grounds of internal review available:
Once your infringement notice has been reviewed, you can’t ask for another review for the same incident.
Internal Reviews are not available for:
For more information, see Important points to remember
Go to Court
We highly recommend that you seek legal advice before challenging any infringement in court.
You may decide to refer your infringement to Court if you believe you have reasonable grounds and a defence to challenge it. You shouldn’t refer your find to Court because you can’t afford to pay it – this is not a defence.
This option is only available at the infringement and penalty reminder notice stage.
If you refer your infringement to Court, the infringement is withdrawn, and you will be issued with a charge and summons. This 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 highly recommend that you seek legal advice before challenging any infringement in Court. You may be able to apply for an internal review of your fine, instead of referring it to court.
Apply for an extension of time to pay or a payment plan
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 through Fines Victoria and they will work out whether you’re eligible. It will take into account:
For more information, visit Fines Victoria’s website pages about:
Family Violence Scheme
If you’re a survivor of family violence, you may be able to apply to have the infringement withdrawn.
The scheme allows people to apply to have their infringement fines withdrawn if family violence substantially contributed to the offence or it is not safe for them to name the responsible person.
Applying to have the infringement withdrawn due to family violence is different from applying under special circumstances. To apply under the scheme, a person must show that:
Certain fines are excluded from the Scheme.
You can also view your options on the Fines Victoria website.
Work and Development Permit (WDP) Scheme
This provides people with a non-financial option to deal with their fine.
The WDP is available for people experiencing acute financial hardship, homelessness, family violence, mental health problems and addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. The scheme allows applicants to work off their infringements by completing activities and treatment through an accredited sponsor
The above options are applicable to fines at the infringement and penalty reminder notice stage. When your fines reach the Notice of Final Demand and Enforcement Warrant Stage, you have fewer options available to challenge your fine. Please note the review at these later stages is called Enforcement Review, not Internal Review. Please refer to the below chart, under Different options for different stages of an Infringement for an overview of the options available.
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, consider the following options:
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 infringement notice or penalty reminder notice stage.
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 to provide supporting evidence from a qualified practitioner that demonstrates your special circumstance and how your condition or circumstance caused you commit the offence. 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 portal on their 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 infringement, 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 Final Demand or a warrant, the matter has progressed into the final stages, and you need to act quickly. 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 July 15th, 2021 at 1:02 pm
The content on this site is information only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.