Infringements

Infringements

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Summary of options for different types of fines and infringements

Important changes from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017, the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) will be changed as part of Victoria’s fines reform process, including new ‘social justice initiatives’ that will affect people experiencing vulnerability. Please be aware of these reforms in relation to any infringements and fines assistance that you are providing to your clients.

Justice Connect Homeless Law pro bono lawyers should read our further materials about the changes here (password needed), before doing any fines work after 1 July 2017. Please speak to your supervising lawyer, team leader or Homeless Law staff for more information.

Infringements and penalty reminder notices

If infringement is at notice or penalty reminder notice stage, your client has the following options:

  1. apply to the enforcement agency for internal review or withdrawal of the fines;
  2. elect to have the matter referred to open court;
  3. apply to the agency for time to pay or payment by instalments;
  4. if your client was not the driver, nominate another driver (note the timeframes that apply in relation to this option);
  5. if your client only became aware of the fine within the last 14 days, apply for cancellation (although note that the infringement may be re-issued);
  6. pay in full.

    Enforcement orders

    If the infringement is at enforcement order stage, your client has the following options:

    1. apply for revocation of the enforcement orders if there are sufficient grounds (remember that fines for excessive speeding or drink driving are not eligible for revocation), including if your client:
    2. apply for an extension of time, instalment order or fee waiver; or
    3. pay in full.

      Infringement warrants

      If your client presents with an infringement warrant:

      1. Advise your client that: 
      2. Subject to your client's instructions, contact the sheriff and request that execution of the warrant be delayed until your client takes action to apply for revocation of the enforcement order or apply for an extension of time, instalment order or fee waiver;
      3. Apply for revocation of the enforcement orders if there are sufficient grounds (remember that fines for excessive speeding or DUI are not eligible for revocation), including if your client:
      4. Apply for an extension of time, instalment order or fee waiver; or
      5. Pay in full.

        Seven day notices

        If your client has received a seven day notice (i.e. they have been served personally with a document called a seven day notice by the Sheriff), the same options are relevant as for enforcement orders and infringement warrants but it is urgent.  Once seven days have passed since the client was served with the notice, the client can be arrested (or the other enforcement steps discussed above can be taken).  You should contact the Sheriff to request a hold on enforcement and take immediate steps to act on the clients instructions (for example by lodging a special circumstances application).

        Driving offences where the client wasn’t the driver

        If the client has infringements for driving offences and instructs that they can establish that they were not driving the car at the time of the offence, strict timeframes apply to nominate another driver (for some offences this is 28 days).  The client must be advised of these timeframe and steps must be taken within the relevant timeframes.  

        If an enforcement order has been made your client cannot nominate another driver, but they may still be able to apply for the enforcement order to be revoked under the Infringements Act on the basis that they were not the driver.  More information about this process can be found here

         

        Excessive speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

        Infringements for these offences are not eligible for revocation (including on the basis of special circumstances).  Another option to advise the client of is applying for a payment order and waiver of the prescribed fees under section 76 of the Infringements Act (sometimes this can reduce the amount owing by up to half).  

        Open court fines

        In relation to fines imposed by the Court under the Sentencing Act (i.e. open court fines), your client has the following options:

        1. Apply to registrar at the Magistrates' Court for an extension of time, an instalment plan or a variation of instalment order;
        2. Apply for conversion of the fine to an community work order (conversion order);
        3. Apply to the Magistrate for variation or cancellation of the order;
        4. If the fines were imposed ex parte and the client has a valid reason for non-appearance, then apply for a re-hearing;
        5. Appeal the decision to the County Court;
        6. Appeal the decision to the Supreme Court; or
        7. Pay in full.

        Note that it is not possible to apply for revocation of fines imposed by a court as a sentencing disposition under the Sentencing Act.

        Warrants to imprison

        When your client presents with warrants to imprison for default of a payment or instalment order made by the Court, it means that your client can be sent directly to prison without further hearing.  There are two main ways that a person can become subject to an imprisonment in lieu order:

        • A Magistrate has sentenced your client under section 160 of the Infringements Act after your client was arrested pursuant to the execution of an infringement warrant and brought to appear before the Magistrates' Court;
        • A Magistrate has sentenced your client in an open court hearing under the Sentencing Act (typically section 62(1)).

        When your client presents with a warrant to imprison, advise the client that these matters are serious, there are limited legal options and there is a risk that they could be imprisoned without being brought back before the court.  You should determine how the warrant was made and then immediately advise your client of his or her options.