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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Fines In NSW


A fine requires you to pay a sum of money as a penalty for breaking a law. In New South Wales, a fine can be issued in forms such as a penalty notice or a Criminal Infringement Notice.

Revenue NSW

This State Government agency processes fines issued by more than 250 organisations in NSW, including local councils, police, Sydney Trains, hospitals and universities.

The Revenue NSW website allows a person to pay a fine, request a review, check on the progress of a review, check the balance of a fine, apply to pay by instalments and other services.

Penalty notices

Penalty notices are appropriate when the offence is minor, obvious and a one-off incident, and the issuing of a notice is likely to be a useful deterrent.

Penalty notices can be issued for a range of offences and by a range of authorities. For example, a fine can be issued:

  • for littering offences – by all NSW local councils, the Port Authority of NSW and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  • for fare evasion – by a Transport for NSW officer to someone using public transport without a valid ticket;
  • for fisheries offences such as exceeding a bag limit or possessing prohibited fishing gear – by a Department of Primary Industries fisheries officer;
  • for failing to vote in an election – by the NSW Electoral Commission;

Penalty notices for traffic offences

A penalty notice requiring payment of a fine is issued to a driver detected committing a traffic offence such as speeding or running a red light. The due date for payment is usually 21 days from the date the penalty notice was issued. If the person who received the notice was not the driver at the time of the offence, the actual driver can be nominated.

The notice can be issued in the post, via email or on the spot by a police officer. A review of the notice can be requested if the recipient believes there has been a mistake or there were extenuating circumstances for committing the offence.

Challenging the notice in court is an option but the fine may be up to 10 times the original penalty and a criminal conviction may be recorded.

Criminal Infringement Notice (CIN)

A CIN can be issued by police in NSW for some minor offences including:

  • Stealing (property value under $300) – $300 fine
  • Offensive language – $500
  • Offensive behaviour – $500
  • Unlawful entry – $250
  • Obstruct traffic – $200
  • Goods in custody – $350 fine
  • Continuation of intoxicated and disorderly behaviour after move-on direction – $1100
  • Possession of prohibited drug (small quantity) – $400

Court fines

Legislation often lists a fine in penalty units. As at May 2021, the value of one penalty unit was $110. Under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, a judge sentencing a person for an indictable (serious) offence can impose a fine of up to 1000 penalty units. A fine can be imposed on top of or instead of any other penalty that can be imposed for the offence. For less serious offences, heard in the Local Court, the maximum fine that can be imposed is 100 penalty units.

When imposing a fine, the court must consider the offender’s capacity to pay, a well as the seriousness of the offence, its prevalence, and deterrence. An offender is generally given 28 days to pay, but the offender can apply to the court for more time to pay. If a fine is not paid, an enforcement order is served on the fine defaulter. If the fine is not paid within 21 days of the enforcement order, enforcement action can be taken, including suspension of a driver licence, property seizure, a garnishee order (an order redirecting a person’s funds to pay the fine), community service or imprisonment.

Fines from private organisations

A fine can be issued by a company if a person fails to comply with an agreement made about the provision of a service, such as parking in a private car park or renting an item. Such a fine cannot be enforced through Revenue NSW; a company must file a Statement of Claim in the Local Court.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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