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Contesting the fine

Information about what someone can do if they want to challenge their infringement notice or fine.

There are several ways that a person may be able to argue against their fine. This will depend on:

  • the person's particular circumstances
  • how long they leave it before taking action
  • the offence that they were fined for, and
  • and the circumstances underlying the reason for their fine.

This page provides a brief summary of the various options. More detailed information about the options is dealt with elsewhere in the topic.

Grounds for challenging a fine

There are several options available to a driver if they:

  • were not driving the vehicle at the time of the offence
  • did not know about the fine (person unaware)
  • have a mental or intellectual disability, disease or illness (includes anxiety or depression)
  • are homeless (includes couch surfing, where person has no stable place to live)
  • have a serious addiction to drugs (including alcohol, a volatile substance, or other drugs such as marijuana, heroin, ice, speed or ecstasy)
  • are a victim of family violence.

Even if none of these things apply but the person still feels that the fine is not fair, they may be able to argue that there are 'exceptional circumstances'

If the decision to fine was contrary to law or involved a mistaken identity, the person may also be able to challenge the fine.

Special circumstances

If special circumstances apply to a person's situation, they may be eligible to for an agency review or enforcement review. Special circumstances may apply if the person is:

  • homeless
  • a victim of family violence
  • has a disability, or
  • a drug dependency.

This will only be considered if there was a connection between the person's circumstance and the fine. For example, a person got a parking fine due to being homeless, no money for petrol and sleeping in the car.

See Special circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances

If exceptional circumstances apply to a person's situation, they may be eligible to apply for an agency review or enforcement review. Exceptional circumstances are not defined under the Acts. They may include poverty, old age, family violence, acute illness or language and literacy problems.

Similarly to special circumstances, it is recommended that the applicant has proof of their circumstances when applying for a review, such as reports from relevant professionals. This report needs to verify the circumstance and connect it to the behaviour which caused the fine.

See Agency review and Enforcement review.

Person unaware

It may be possible for a person to apply for an agency review or an enforcement review if they did not know that they had been fined. The procedure differs according to the offence that the person was fined for.

There are some exceptions to this such as if the offence was for drink or drug driving or excessive speed offences under the Road Safety Act 1986. These matters must be dealt with in court.

For many infringements this ground will not be available to the applicant if they had not updated their within 14 days of moving.

For details see Person unaware.

Nominate another driver

If the owner of a vehicle that has been fined under the 'Operator onus' provisions because they are the registered owner of a vehicle, they can avoid responsibility for the fine by nominating the person who was driving the vehicle at the time that the offence took place.

If the vehicle owner is a victim of family violence they may choose instead to apply under the family violence scheme. This scheme allows the person fined to avoid having to nominate a driver if they are afraid of repercussions.

See Nominating another driver and Family violence and fines.

Contrary to law

A person can seek to have a review of their fine if they believe that their infringement notice was not legal. This could include situations where:

  • an infringement notice is not valid, or
  • infringement officer acted unlawfully, unfairly, improperly or beyond their authority.

See Error on the fine.

Mistaken identity

A person can use this ground if they claim that they were not the person who committed the infringement offence. For example, if they have evidence to show that they were driving their vehicle in another state at the when their vehicle was supposedly captured driving in a bus lane.

How to contest the fine

Apply for agency review

The first opportunity to challenge the fine is to apply for the agency to review the fine. They can do this at any time before the fine reaches the enforcement stage. This is also known as 'internal review'. This review is not available for excessive speed, drink or drug driving offences.

See Agency review.

Enforcement review

A person can ask for the Director of Fines Victoria ('the director') to conduct an enforcement review of their fine(s). The person can apply for an enforcement review anytime until:

  • a 7-day notice has expired (or been waived)
  • an attachment of debt, or earnings has been made
  • a land charge has been recorded, or
  • property has been seized under a vehicle seizure and sale notice.

See Enforcement review.

Family violence scheme

The family violence scheme (FVS) allows victim/survivors of family violence to apply if they come into contact with the infringements system. This system complements, and is broader than the current 'special circumstances' ground for dealing with infringements where the person fined was a victim of family violence.
The scheme may be used in situations where:

  • the victim's vehicle was used by someone else and they were fined under the operator onus provisions if their experience of family violence 'substantially contributed' to them being unable to nominate the other driver.
  • a victim is fined because of their own offending where their experience of family violence 'substantially contributed' to the offence, such as when a person is fleeing unsafe circumstances.

Unlike enforcement review applications on the basis that the person was not the driver, there is no need to nominate the other driver under the FVS.

A person cannot apply if they have also applied for enforcement review under the special circumstances provisions and no decision has yet been made. As the scheme is broader than the special circumstances provision, it is preferable to apply under this scheme first.

See Family violence and fines.

Apply for a work and development permit

Eligible vulnerable and disadvantaged people may be able to 'pay off' their fine by participating in an approved activity such as: having drug or alcohol counselling, mental health treatment or financial counselling. This treatment is supervised by an accredited sponsor.

See Work and development permits.

More information

Legislation

Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)

  • Part 2, Div 3—Internal reviews
  • s. 22—application for an internal review

See Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic)

  • Part 2A—Work and development plans
  • Part 2B—Family violence scheme
  • Part 4—Enforcement review
  • s. 32—application for an enforcement review

See Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Updated