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Official warnings

This page explains when a warning may be given instead of issuing a fine.

An officer may decide to issue an official warning instead of giving someone a fine. This can happen if the officer reasonably believes that:

  • the person committed the offence
  • it is appropriate to warn instead of issuing the fine.

If the agency decides to issue a warning it must formally withdraw the infringement notice.

See s. 8—Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

What is a warning?

Warnings have to be in writing and must contain certain information. This is prescribed in the Infringements Regulations 2016. They differ depending on the particular guidelines and policies of an individual agency. Warnings are given at the complete discretion of the enforcement agency that issued the fine. Some agencies may not give any official warnings at all.

For example, Victoria Police may choose to withdraw a fine for a traffic offence and issue an official warning if someone applies for an agency review. The driver must hold a current licence or permit and must not have been issued with a speeding or other fine for at least the previous 2 years (this depends on the driver's speed). The person must admit to the offence.

Police will not issue warnings for:

  • driving 10 km or more over the speed limit (without a compelling reason)
  • seatbelt, mobile phone or other serious offences, unless the driver can demonstrate that there was an emergency or that special circumstances apply to their situation.

However, in some cases it may be possible to get an official warning:

  • where there was a genuine emergency or other compelling reason for the speeding
  • if multiple fines are issued within a short time frame (24 hours or before the driver knew about the first fine) and the speed was less than 10 km over the limit.

See Victoria Police—Official warnings(opens in a new window) and r. 12—Infringements Regulations 2016 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

An agency can change its mind

An agency can decide to withdraw the warning and issue an infringement notice or enforce the infringement. If the agency decides to withdraw the warning it must notify the person in writing.

Time limit

An agency must usually issue a fine within 12 months of the offence unless another driver is nominated.

See Nominating another driver.

Later options for issuing an official warning

An agency may also decide to issue an official warning if the director:

  • decides that enforcement is not appropriate
  • cancels the enforcement following enforcement review.

See ss. 20, 21, 37, 38—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

How to apply

The application process depends on who the enforcement agency is that issued the fine. This will be listed on the infringement notice.

Fine from police or Traffic Camera Office

If the infringement was issued by the police or the Traffic Camera Office, the person fined can either:

  • write to the Traffic camera Office, or
  • apply directly online to Fines Victoria.

The address and a direct link are listed Victoria Police—Official warnings(opens in a new window).

If writing to the Traffic Camera Office, it is important to include the following information:

  • name, address, date of birth
  • drivers licence number
  • fine obligation number.

In both cases the applicant must specify that they are seeking an official warning. In the alternative they could seek an internal review. They will need to explain the circumstances of the offence and why they are seeking an official warning.

Most official warnings are issued for speeding infringements, although it may be possible to get an official warning for another minor infringement matter.

Fine from another enforcement agency

Fines Victoria only process official warning applications from the police or the traffic camera office. If the person was fined by another agency, the applicant must contact the enforcement agency that issued the fine.

The person fined must specifically say that they are seeking an official warning. Not all enforcement agencies will agree to this. They have complete discretion about whether to make a policy and guidelines about circumstances where they will consider issuing an official warning. Some enforcement agencies will not issue them at all. But it is worth asking.

Make sure that the application is in writing and keep a copy. It may also be useful to seek an agency review if official warnings are not given.

More information

Legislation

Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)

  • Part 2, Division 1—official warnings
  • s. 8—issuing officer may serve an official warning

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

Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic)

  • s 20—director may decide enforcement is not appropriate
  • s. 21—option of official warning if enforcement not appropriate
  • s. 37—outcome of enforcement review
  • s. 38—option of official warning if enforcement cancelled

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

Infringements Regulations 2016 (Vic)

  • r. 12—prescribes the details to be included in an official warning
  • Schedule 2—List of enforcement agencies

See Infringements Regulations 2016 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Criminal Procedure Act 1989 (Vic)

  • s. 7—time limit for bringing an action for a summary offence

See Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Victoria Police

See Victoria Police—Official warnings(opens in a new window).

Updated