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Dealing with infringement notices and penalty reminder notices

Important changes from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017, the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) was changed as part of Victoria's fines reform process, including new ‘social justice initiatives' that affect people experiencing vulnerability. On 31 December 2017, the Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) commenced, creating Fines Victoria. This resulted in significant further changes to the infringements system and substantially shorter timeframes for dealing with infringements and fines.

Please be aware of these reforms in relation to any infringements assistance that you are providing to your clients.

We are in the process of updating Homeless Law in Practice. 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.

Infringement notices and penalty reminder notices

If no action is taken within 28 days of the infringement notice being issued (or longer as stated in the notice), a penalty reminder notice will be issued, which adds on additional costs ($24.48 as at 1 July 2015) to the original penalty.

If no action is taken within 28 days after a penalty reminder notice is issued (or longer as stated in the notice), the enforcement agency may register the infringement with the Infringements Registrar of the Infringement Court. 

An infringement may only be lodged at the Infringements Registrar within six months of the date of the offence.  This time can be extended in certain circumstances, such as where the fine was the subject of a payment plan on which the person subsequently defaulted, or where the decision to issue the infringement notice has been the subject of internal review (section 55). 

The Infringements Registrar will make an enforcement order (unless the enforcement agency specifically requests that an enforcement order is not made).  To see the options your client will have when the infringement reaches enforcement stage click here.

Official warnings

An issuing officer has the discretion to serve a person with a written official warning rather than serve an infringement notice (section 8) if he or she is of the opinion that in all the circumstances, it is appropriate to serve an official warning.  If issuing officers do exercise such discretion, they must be guided by their agency's code of conduct and guidelines.  Even if an official warning is issued, this does not prevent the warning from being withdrawn in order for the agency to issue an infringement notice or commence proceedings with respect to the offence (sections 10 and 11).

Referral to open court

An enforcement agency has the discretion to refer the matter to open court any time before an enforcement order is made (section 17), however, this does not apply to excessive speed, drink-driving or drug-driving fines. 

Requirements for service of an infringement notice

An infringement notice may be served on a person by delivering it personally to the person, posting it to the person's last known address, or affixing it to any vehicle involved in the commission of the offence (section 12).