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What is an infringement notice?

Australian laws allow governments, government agencies and some non-government agencies to issue fines or infringement notices in respect of offences that could otherwise be prosecuted through the courts. The infringement notice system is intended to remove a large number of minor offences from the criminal courts. Just because they are removed from the criminal courts does not mean they are no longer criminal offences. Infringement notices can be  issued on-the-spot or sent to the offender by post. Some private organisations (e.g. Australian Football League, Libraries, Clubs) have a system of fines that are imposed on employees or members. Those are part of a private contract and have nothing to do with criminal offences.


Types of infringement notices

A Traffic Infringement Notice ("TIN") is usually seen as the red "on-the-spot" fine handed to a driver who is pulled over for a traffic offence. Some TINs are issued to owners of motor vehicles by post: e.g. red-light camera fines, speed camera fines, tollway fines. Parking Infringement Notices ("PIN") are in the same category, as are a host of other infringement notices that are issued under a wide variety of legislation (Litter Act, Marine Act, Fisheries Act, EPA Act, etc). Then there are Penalty Notices which are issued in respect of business related offences, such as breach of liquor licence conditions.


Service of Infringement Notices.

A Parking Infringement Notice can be served by leaving it on or in the vehicle, or by posting it to the registered operator (owner) or the nominated responsible person (driver), or by handing it personally to the registered operator or the nominated responsible person.

A Traffic Camera Infringement Notice can be served by posting it to the registered operator or the nominated responsible person, or by handing it personally to the registered operator or the nominated responsible person.

All other Traffic Infringement Notices can be served by handing them personally to the driver or posting them to the person responsible at their last known residential or business address.

The prosecuting agency has 12 months from the date of an offence to serve an infringement notice, although for camera offences it has 12 months from the date of the most recent nomination statement.


Consequences of paying an infringement notice.

There are two types of infringement notices in motor traffic cases. Each have different consequences.

Paying an infringement notice that does not carry any licence loss period will result in no record on your traffic record criminal history. The offence is expiated and can not be alleged against you in any civil or criminal court. If you pay the fine (payment instructions are on the TIN) this will bring an end to the matter. You are admitting guilt and accepting the penalty. Except for camera offences, no further steps can be taken after the infringement penalty is paid. 

An infringement that imposes licence loss (e.g. exceeding speed limit by 25kmh) will result in a conviction and licence loss on the 29th day after the date of the infringement notice regardless whether you have paid the fine or not. To avoid a conviction being recorded and your licence being suspended or cancelled you must object to the notice within 28 days of the date of the notice. You can pay the fine whenever you like, but the licence suspension must start on the 29th day. 

In many cases demerit points will be incurred following payment. Usually you can not unpay the fine if you later regret incurring all those demerit points or losing your licence. If you have a demerit points problem you should be seeking legal advice as soon as possible because some time limits apply in demerit points problems.



How to object to an infringement notice

To take a fine to court you need to lodge a court election (for demerit point offences) or a notice of objection (for licence loss offences).  Full details on how to take your fine to court can be found on our court election page.


Extension of Time for objecting to infringement notices sent by post

Section 89B Road Safety Act - Licence Loss Infringement notices.

If your license has already been suspended or cancelled by an infringement notice that was sent by mail, and you did not become aware of the notice until after the 28 day period had elapsed, then you have missed the deadline to object to the notice or nominate a responsible person. In that case you can apply for an extension of time within which to object to the fine or to nominate - see section 89B Road Safety Act and also see a lawyer. You must make the application promptly - within 14 days of becoming aware of the existence of the notice. If you have been aware of the existence of the notice for more than 14 days you can not get an extension of time to object to the fine or nominate a responsible person.

Section 67 Road Safety Act -  Other Traffic Infringement Notices.

If you missed your chance to take a Road Safety Act infringement notice to court or missed your chance to nominate a responsible person because you were unaware of the existence of a road traffic infringement you can apply for an extension of time to lodge the court election or nominate a responsible person.

  • you need to swear a stat dec of affidavit stating the grounds for the application and include a statement that you did not become aware of the existence of the infringement notice until less than 14 days prior to the date of your application.
  • the infringements court registrar will then stay the operation of the infringement notice and refer the application to a Magistrates Court for determination.

If you were not aware of the existence of the infringement notice prior to the enforcement order being made the best thing for you to do is apply to the Infringements Court registrar for the infringement notice to be cancelled. This application can be made in respect of infringement notices for lodgeable infringement offences that were sent to you by post and you were unaware the notice had been sent. You must make the application for cancellation of the notice within 14 days of becoming aware of the existence of the infringement notice. The application can be made at the Infringements Court and needs to be accompanied by a stat dec. The Infringements Court will then refer your application to the Magistrates Court were it will be determined by a Magistrate or Judicial Registrar. You will need to attend that hearing. Once the application has been lodged the Infringements Registrar must stay the operation of the infringement notice. If you have just found out that you owe thousands of dollars for tollway fines that were all sent to your old address, then making a s.67 application is usually the best strategy to adopt.  Seek legal assistance if you feel this is too complicated for you to do alone.

Defective Infringement Notices

It is possible for an infringement notice to have a serious defect that renders it invalid. Legislation sets out what information an infringement notice must contain. If the essential elements are missing, the notice may be invalid. However, infringement notices also contain a lot of additional information that is not required by the legislation.

If essential sections of the infringement notice are not completed in accordance with the legislation, such as the date of the offence, the date of the notice, the alleged speed or BAC etc, then the fine may be defective to the point that it is invalid. (See DPP v. Korybutiak as an example of a case run on this type of point). If your infringement notice is defective and you want to avoid licence loss, you should seek legal advice to ensure you take the correct steps to protect you from licence loss. Calling the police or Fines Victoria within 12 months of the date of offence to boast or complain that they made a mistake on the notice, or objecting to the notice, will result in a corrected infringement notice being sent to you in the mail - or a charge and summons being served - which will resolve the problem.

If you have a defective fine that is not going to award you either demerit points or licence loss then it would probably be easier just to pay it. Fighting a fine just to avoid the financial penalty will always cost you more than the amount due on the fine. The only advantage to you in complaining about a defect in any infringement notice is that you may gain a bit more time while they write a new fine and send it to you. Usually that is no real gain at all.

Not every mistake in the infringement notice will render it invalid, but if some essential ingredient in the notice is either missing or incorrect then the notice may be invalid and you may be advised not to object to an invalid notice. An invalid infringement notice should be ignored if you want to rely on the defect. 

An infringement notice is not invalid merely because it has your car's rego wrong, has a spelling mistake or typo, is not signed, or contains information or an allegation that you believe is incorrect. The top section of the fine has information which identifies the driver (name, address, licence number, date of birth, car rego, colour etc). This enables VicRoads to identify which licence or rego to suspend or to record demerit points. An error here is very unlikely to prevent them correctly identifying the driver and recording demerit points against him or her or suspending the correct driver's licence. An infringement notice is not invalid merely because you disagree with what is alleged in it.

If you want to know if your infringement notice is valid, post a copy to me attached to a cheque, money order or credit card authorisation for $80.00 and I will telephone or email you within a day or two with my opinion. If it is not worth $80.00 to you then you will understand why it is not worth my time to receive emails or phone calls asking whether or not your notice is valid.


Internal Review of Infringement Notices

S.22 of the Infringements Act allows a person to request an enforcement agency (e.g. the police or a local council) to review infringement notices which do not impose licence loss.  

Internal review is available if you have infringement notice that does not impose a licence suspension or cancellation, and which is not a drink driving infringement notice.

You can seek internal review if:

(i) the infringement notice was issued illegally; or
(ii) there has been a mistake of identity; or
(iii) special circumstances (i.e. mental illness, homelessness or drug dependency) apply to the person; or
(iv) you qualify under published criteria for a warning.

Theoretically you can also seek a review to ask for the infringement notice to be excused having regard to any exceptional circumstances relating to the circumstances of the offence, but in reality there is no chance of that actually happening.

There is a section of the Traffic Camera Office called the Penalty Review Board (PRB) which considers all applications for review of VPol issued infringement notices. Although the police can withdraw an infringement notice if exceptional circumstances apply to the person or to the circumstances of the offence it is extremely rare for them to do so.  

The PRB has authority to withdraw any police issued infringement notice. The PRB does not withdraw infringement notices that fall outside the eligibility criteria. The PRB will check notices to ensure they have been correctly completed. If a notice has any errors, they will correct the errors (i.e. wrong date, wrong penalty, misspelling etc) and reissue the notice to you. If you later decide to take the matter to court, your letter will become evidence against you.

If your circumstances are not exceptional - or even if they are - you probably should not bother seeking internal review of a traffic infringement notice unless you can identify the basis upon which the review will succeed.  If you do not come within any of the recognised criteria for getting a warning, you will be better off defending your case in court instead of seeking internal review.  If you are sure you will never take the matter to court, then there is nothing to lose by writing to the PRB. Good Luck!   

Read also Internal Review of Infringement Notices.

Parking infringement reviews are much more likely to work than for any other type of infringement notice.

Internal Review of Speeding Infringements - Official Warnings.

The Penalty Review Board can exercise discretion to withdraw fines and issue warnings for full licence holders who have had no demerit point offences in the past 2 years and have received an infringement notice for doing less than 10kmh over the speed limit. Up until 21 September 2015 they will also accept applications for a warning if you have a speeding ticket alleging a speed between 10kmh and 14kmh over the limit and have not had any infringement in the previous 3 years.  If you have been a good driver and don't have a points problem you can get a bit of leniency. If you get a fine for driving >14kmh over the speed limit, (or after 21 September >9kmh over the speed limit) or any other type of offence, you won't qualify for a warning. If you think you qualify, you should send the Penalty Review Board a letter asking for a warning instead of a fine and hope for the best. 

It is also possible to get some infringement notices withdrawn if you have received multiple infringements from fixed speed cameras on freeways which have all occurred within a few weeks of each other. Generally, the discretion is not exercised for infringements that carry more than 1 point. Some of my clients have received dozens of infringement notices from the same camera over several weeks and I have managed to get a large number of those infringements withdrawn. Drivers with multiple infringement notices should seek a review before deciding whether or not to take the infringements to court. It is also possible to get an infringement withdrawn if it is a duplicate, i.e. you have two speeding tickets issued for the same offence on the same road on the same day regardless of the speeds alleged.  If you want help or advice about making an application to the PRB then make an appointment to see me with all your paperwork and your demerit point history. 


Owner-Onus Offences (Traffic Camera Offences)
Nominating the driver or a responsible person.

If you are the registered owner of a vehicle and receive a traffic camera infringement notice, CityLink fine or parking fine and you were not the driver of your vehicle at the time of the offence, you can nominate a person who was responsible for the vehicle at the time of the offence. If the owner makes a "user statement" which the police accept, then the owner can not be found guilty of the traffic offence. 

A user statement is a statement in writing which nominates the person who was responsible for the vehicle at the time of the offence ("known user statement"), or states why the owner is unable to nominate the person responsible ("unknown user statement"), or states that the vehicle has been sold ("sold user statement"), or states that the vehicle or the number plates where stolen at the time of the offence ("illegal user statement"). If you make a nomination statement that includes the responsible person's name, address and either the licence number or date of birth, then the police must accept this nomination statement and can not reject it. If you are nominating a company you will not be able to provide a licence number or date of birth, so the police have a discretion whether or not to accept the nomination statement. After you have made a nomination statement the police will issue a new infringement notice to the nominated person. The new infringement notice will not include any of the late fees that you might have incurred.

Some people hand their infringement notice to the driver and bravely trust the driver to fill it in and lodge it. That is a mistake. You should never give the infringement notice to the person you are nominating. You should fill in the form, you need to sign it and you should ensure it is lodged within time. The nominated person never needs to see the infringement notice. 

If the user statement is accepted by the police they will then withdraw the fine, and issue a fresh infringement notice to the nominated person. If an owner wishes to make a user statement, then it needs to be made prior to any enforcement order being made in respect of the fine (usually about 10 weeks from the date of the offence) or within 28 days for licence loss offences. If you are making a user statement, then you must not pay the fine or enclose any payment for it, and you do not need to worry about any of the late fees because they will be cancelled. Sometimes it is possible to nominate the driver even if the fine has been paid.  The nominated person can then send in their own user statement in reply (i.e. re-nominate), or reject the statement that nominated them.

If you are unable to identify any person who was responsible for the vehicle at the time of the offence you can lodge an unknown user statement. An unknown user statement must state that you were not at the time of the offence driving, or in possession or control of, the motor vehicle or trailer; and do not know and could not with reasonable diligence ascertain the identity of the person who was at that time driving or, had at that time possession or control of, the motor vehicle or trailer. You are required to provide reasons that are adequate and reasonable stating what steps you have taken to try to ascertain the identity of a responsible person. A failure to keep a record of who is driving or in possession of your vehicle is not permitted to be a satisfactory explanation.

It is very rare for an enforcement agency to accept an unknown user statement. If you think your unknown user statement has been unfairly rejected you have the option of taking the case to court and arguing in your defence that the enforcement agency should have accepted your unknown user statement. If the Magistrate thinks your unknown user statement is adequate then you will be acquitted. Simply saying that you asked your family and friends if they were driving and they denied it is unlikely to be accepted by the police or council as a sufficient basis for an unknown user statement. There is a good chance you will have to take the case to court if you want to avoid the fine using that method. 

You are not permitted to lodge an unknown user statement in relation to a tollway offence or an offence committed in a taxi.

Nominating a responsible person for an Excessive Speed Offence.

You have 28 days only within which to lodge a user statement for an excessive speed offence (i.e. a licence loss infringement). Some of my clients have seen the traffic camera office reject their user statements for spurious reasons. This can cause you to lose your licence even though you think you have nominated a driver for an excessive speed offence within 28 days. The police might write to you to request more information or ask for the nomination form to be re-submitted - for example because they couldn't read your signature!  Sometimes they will send you this letter even after the 28 day period has expired. By the time you receive or reply to their request your licence might already be suspended. At that point there is no recourse for you unless you have already lodged an objection to take the case to court.   

For this reason you need to make two copies of the nomination statement before filling it in so you can make a nomination on one of them, and also elect to take the case to court on the other one.  After you have lodged any type of user statement in respect of a licence loss infringement notice, you must then complete the notice of objection at the foot of the reverse of the infringement notice (i.e. the election to go to court). If you fail to lodge an election to go to court within 28 days you are at risk of losing your licence even though you have lodged a nomination statement or an unknown user statement etc. The only way to ensure your licence is not suspended 28 days after the date of any excessive speed infringement notice is to complete and lodge the notice of objection to take the matter to court. Merely lodging a nomination statement within 28 days does not prevent your licence from being suspended. In order to save your licence you should lodge the objection to go to court a few days day after lodging a nomination statement in respect of a licence loss infringement notice even if you think you don't want to go to court or don't need to go to court.  Alternatively, you must lodge the election to go to court on the 26th day if you have not received written confirmation that your nomination statement has been accepted. It is only at court that you can rely on the previously submitted nomination statement as your defence.  Many of my clients have lodged nomination statements only to find their licence got suspended anyway because the police claim the nomination was not received in time or was incomplete or was illegible etc. 

If you find you can't complete your user statement within 28 days and need some extra time, the only way to get more time is to lodge an objection to go to court within the 28 day period.  If you have lodged an objection to go to court within 28 days you can lodge any type of user statement prior to the conclusion of your court case.

These nomination statements can sometimes be a bit tricky. If your licence is at risk from suspension or demerit points, and you can not afford to get the process wrong, then you might wish to get legal help. There are a number of ways of dealing with driver nominations, and some options are smarter than others, so get advice if you need to keep your licence.  There is no obligation on the registered operator to make a nomination statement.

Corporate owners of  motor vehicles

Infringement notices issued to companies for speed and red light camera offences impose a fine of about $3,000.  If the company pays that fine, no demerit points are recorded and no licence suspension can be imposed. If the company nominates a human being as the person responsible for the vehicle at the time of the offence a fresh infringement notice will be issued to the nominated person, and the amount of the financial penalty will revert to the normal lower amount for that offence. The nominated person will incur demerit points or licence suspension if they don't object to or nominate the infringement notice. 

If a company fails to nominate a responsible person more than 2 times within a 12 month period the corporate fine for each subsequent infringement within the 12 month period increases to about $17,000. If a company gets an infringement notice with a very high financial penalty the company can avoid the penalty by nominating a human as the person responsible for the vehicle. Or it can take the infringement to court and either defend the case or ask the court for a more reasonable fine. The reason the corporate penalty is so high is because companies can't lose a driver's licence.


Appeal against a VicRoads licence suspension

If your licence is about to be suspended for non-payment of parking and/or traffic fines, for medical reasons or from demerit points, you have the option of lodging an appeal to a Magistrate against VicRoads decision to suspend your licence.  A court can permit you to drive pending the hearing of the appeal.  VicRoads will usually appear at court to argue this appeal. In demerit point appeals the grounds of appeal are restricted to questions relating to whether or not the demerit points have been recorded against you correctly and lawfully. This is not an opportunity to re-litigate the offences giving rise to the demerit points.


Drink driving infringement notices

A TIN can be issued to first time drink drivers with readings up to 0.15%. For most drink driving offences you will automatically lose your licence for the mandatory licence cancellation period beginning 28 days after the date of the notice, unless notice of objection is sent to Fines Victoria within the 28 day period. If you were not aware that the infringement notice existed before the 28 days expired, it is possible to get an extension of time to lodge your objection.

To take the infringement to court,  fill out the objection section on the back of the infringement notice and post it to the address stated on the notice for that purpose. Keep a photocopy of the infringement notice and make a detailed diary note of when and where you posted the objection. This causes the TIN to be cancelled and of no further use. Eventually the police should post you a "Charge and Summons" inviting you to attend court. When you receive your summons it is time to seek legal advice to find what can be done to improve your situation and hopefully win your case.  You will avoid mandatory licence loss, avoid paying fines and probably recover legal costs if you win your case.

For first time offenders who have a full drivers licence and are aged 26 or more, if your alcohol reading is under 0.07% the minimum licence cancellation period is 3 months if you pay the infringement notice. The only way to try for a better result is to defend the case in court and be acquitted. If you are found guilty at court for an offence between 0.05% and 0.07% the minimum period of licence cancellation is 6 months. If you take a 3 month drink driving infringement notice to court your chance of getting 6 months cancellation is more than 90%, your chance of getting 0 months is less than 10%, and your chance of getting 3 months is less than 1%.

If you receive a TIN and your reading is over 0.07%, your options are:

  • pay the TIN and lose your licence on the 29th day, or
  • ignore the TIN for 28 days and lose your licence, or
  • object to the TIN within 28 days by completing the reverse, keep a copy and send the objection to Fines Victoria (this will result in you being charged on summons and having to go to court to try to save your licence), or
  • seek legal advice if you think the TIN may be invalid or incorrect and find out what you should do.

If you have any drink driving or drug driving history in the past 10 years you won't get a Traffic Infringement Notice for your current offence. You will be charged on summons to attend court. Usually the police will also give you an on the spot licence suspension notice to take you off the road until your court case concludes.


Speeding infringement notices

If you get a speeding fine, your options are:

  • pay the TIN and suffer loss of demerit points, and possible loss of licence if your speed was excessive,
  • if you are facing licence loss because of an excessive speed infringement notice, you can object to the TIN and take the matter to court,
  • seek legal advice if you think the TIN may be invalid or incorrect and find out what you should do.

If a speeding infringement notice states you are facing licence loss, the only way to keep your licence will be to object to the infringement notice, wait to be taken to court,  plead not guilty and beat the charge. It would also be wise to get legal advice and representation. If you wish to save your licence from mandatory suspension, you need to lodge notice of objection within 28 days of receiving the notice. If you were not aware that the infringement notice existed before the 28 days expired, it is possible to get an extension of time to lodge your objection. Unless your licence is at risk, you may find it uneconomical to take the matter to court. See the Speeding page for more information.


Licence Suspension or Cancellation?  suspension

A licence that is cancelled ceases to exist. To be relicenced the driver will need to attend a VicRoads office, pay $170.00 (or whatever the fee has been increased to by the time you read this), and get their photo taken. If your licence is cancelled you will also be disqualified from obtaining a new licence for a period of time which can not be less than 3 months. Once your disqualification period has ended, (and you have obtained permission to drive from a Magistrate if that is required), you are free to apply for a new licence. The new licence will have the same status (e.g. probationary) as your last licence had, except that for drink drivers it will also have a 3 year zero condition and possibly an interlock condition. You will not be not required to pass any test. Licence cancellation is imposed for the following offences: drink driving, dangerous driving, driving at a dangerous speed, and some drug driving offences. For all other offences most Magistrates prefer to impose licence suspension instead of cancellation. Driver's who had their licence cancelled are required to send their licence to VicRoads.

A licence that is suspended ceases to have effect for a limited time. Once the suspension period expires the licence is once again current (provided the licence has not expired in the meantime). There is nothing the driver needs to do before being allowed to drive except wait for the suspension period to end. Most licence suspensions result from speeding offences and demerit points accrual, but all motor vehicle offences can have licence suspension periods imposed if they are not subject to mandatory licence cancellation. Drivers who have had their licence suspended by a court or for excessive demerit points or for medical review are required to send their licence to VicRoads.

The maximum penalty for driving whilst suspended or whilst disqualified is a fine of up to $40,000 fine or 2 years imprisonment. The court has full discretion as to whether or not to impose a fine, a period of license suspension or any other penalty.  Read more about driving whilst suspended or disqualified.


Not paying the Fine: Reminder Letter & Final Demand

If a TIN or PIN remains unpaid after 28 days, a reminder letter will issue. For offences that do not result in licence loss, you have two alternatives when you get a reminder letter. You can pay the penalty, or elect to take the infringement to court. If you pay the amount on the reminder letter that finishes the matter. 

If you get a reminder letter for an infringement notice that imposed licence loss it is too late to object or save your licence. Your licence is already gone and the reminder letter is just chasing the outstanding debt.

If you ignore the reminder letter a Final Demand will be issued to you by Fines Victoria. Demerit points will accrue at this point. If that remains unpaid a warrant to enforce the Final Demand will eventually be issued by the Fines Victoria directing the sheriff to recover the debt.


Getting your licence back once the suspension period has started.

If your licence has been suspended or cancelled by an infringement notice, generally you can not get it back before the end of the licence loss period.

If your licence has been suspended or cancelled by a Magistrate, you have 28 days to lodge a County Court appeal (or you might be eligible for a re-hearing), else you can not get it back before the end of the licence loss period. You should seek advice before deciding to lodge a County Court appeal.

If your licence has been suspended for demerit points, you can undo the suspension only if you can reverse the points that caused the suspension to occur. You should seek advice as soon as you are aware that you have a demerit points problem that needs attention.

If your licence has been suspended by the sheriff for non-payment of fines, you can get it back only if you pay your fines or set aside the warrants that are enforcing the fines.

If your licence has been suspended under s.85 Road Safety Act for drink driving, drug driving or other eligible impound offence, you might get it back by appealing against the suspension notice. You should seek advice if your licence has been suspended in this situation.

Delaying licence loss commencing

Some people choose to object to infringement notices in order to postpone the consequences of an offence, whether it be licence loss or demerit points. When an objection is lodged it can take several months for court proceedings to commence, and then many more months for the court case to conclude. Then an appeal process can take many more months to complete. Most drivers are entitled to keep their licence until the court processes are completed. Although these processes may postpone the commencement of licence loss, generally they  do not reduce the total period of licence loss that is served unless the defendant is acquitted of the charge at court.


Interstate and Overseas drivers licences

The rules applying to interstate and overseas licence holders (sometimes referred to as International licences) are different and the above information may not be applicable. For example, non-Victorian licences generally can not be suspended by Victorian laws but other procedures may apply to them, such as suspending their entitlement to drive in Victoria using an interstate or overseas licence. Read our Foreign Licences webpage.


Related Pages:
Your Rights
Demerit Points
Infringements Court
Legal Advice
Internal Review

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