Enforcement Reviews of Infringement Notices (Vic)
In Victoria, certain offences can be dealt with by issuing the offender an infringement notice (on-the-spot fine). This means that the person does not have to attend court and will not get a criminal record in relation to the offence, provided they pay the fine. Infringement notices can be given for traffic offences and other summary offences. This article deals with enforcement reviews of infringement notices in Victoria.
What are enforcement reviews?
Under section 32 of Fines Reform Act 2014 a person who has been served with a notice of final demand in relation to an unpaid infringement notice may apply to Fines Victoria for a review of that infringement notice. This is called an enforcement review.
A person can apply for an enforcement review on any of the following grounds:
- That the infringement was contrary to law,
- That the infringement involved mistaken identity,
- That there were exceptional circumstances,
- That there were special circumstances, and
- That the person was not aware of the infringement.
Under section 33, a person can only apply for enforcement review on the basis of grounds 1, 2, 3 or 5 once in relation to any one infringement notice. However, an application on the basis of ground 4 may be made more than once.
When can a person not seek an enforcement review?
A person can apply for an enforcement review in relation to most infringements. However, a person cannot apply for a review of an infringement given in relation to:
- A court-imposed fine;
- An infringement notice for drink or drug driving;
- A fine incurred by a business; or
- An infringement notice imposed for excessive speed ie. speeding offences where the driver was travelling 25 km/h or more over the speed limit.
It is also not possible for a person to obtain an enforcement review where the seven-day notice has expired, where property has been seized under a vehicle seizure and sale order or where the infringement has already been paid.
Contrary to law
A person may apply for an enforcement review if they believe that the infringement was issued contrary to the law. An example of where this may occur is where a person had filed a nomination statement, nominating another person as the driver of a vehicle at the time that an offence was committed and that nomination was rejected by Fines Victoria despite the form having been completed as required by law.
A person may apply for an enforcement review if the person believes that the infringement notice was issued was issued to the wrong person. An example of where this may occur is where a person uses someone else’s licence as ID when pulled over in relation to a driving offence.
A person may apply for an enforcement review if they believe there were special circumstances that excuse the behaviour that led to the infringement notice being issued. To apply under this section, a person must accept responsibility for their wrongdoing but argue that the infringement occurred in exceptional circumstances. An example of where this may apply is where a person was speeding to get to hospital because of a medical emergency.
A person may apply for an enforcement review on the basis of special circumstances. Under section 3 of the Infringements Act 2006 ‘special circumstances’ are defined as:
- A mental or intellectual disability or disorder;
- A serious substance use addiction;
- Homelessness; or
- Family violence.
To be successful on this basis, the applicant must accept and acknowledge their wrongdoing and show a connection between their special circumstance and the offending. They must also provide evidence of the existence of special circumstances.
Not Aware of Infringement
A person can apply for an enforcement review of an unpaid infringement notice if they were not aware of the fine. This may occur where a person was away on a holiday and only received the infringement upon their return. An application on this basis must be made within 14 days of becoming aware of the infringement.
Unlike the other types of enforcement review applications, an application on this basis is filed with the Magistrates Court. If the application is successful, the person will have 28 days to deal with the infringement (whether by paying the fine or disputing the fine).
If a person is successful in an enforcement review and Fines Victoria withdraws the infringement, the enforcement agency (i.e. the department that issued the fine) still has the power to prosecute the person for the offence if it wishes to do so.
If a person is unsuccessful in an enforcement review, they will need to pay the total sum of the infringement. As the matter has already progressed to a Notice of Final Demand, there is no option of taking the matter to court to dispute the offence.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.