By Jane Woodhams
Last updated on: November 7, 2017 at 5:51 pm
More than $9 million worth of overdue fines is recovered by the state government’s Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit each month.
While those who continue to dodge payment face tough penalties – like forced community service, having money deducted from their wages and even having their car seized – there are a lot of options for everyday drivers to avoid becoming a part of that statistic.
John Ovenstone from the state government’s Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit says motorists who have a genuine problem paying the lump sum can contact the unit and arrange a repayment plan, which allows you to spread payments out over a longer period.
‘If you receive a fine, take action as early as possible,’ Mr Ovenstone says. ‘As long as you address the fine in a timely manner, you’ll avoid further penalties and sanctions.’
This is advice more and more drivers are heeding. Since the Fines Unit was established in February 2014, there’s been a 30 per cent rise in those choosing to make a payment arrangement.
What if I don’t pay up?
So what are the consequences if you don’t pay up, and don’t contact the fine issuer or the Fines Unit in time?
Well, the penalties can be significant. Let’s take a look at an example of someone who’s run a red light.
1. EXPIATION NOTICE
Letter with a $454 fine plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy – 28 days to pay.
2. REMINDER NOTICE
If not paid, there’ll be a fee of $53 added – 14 days to pay.
3. ENFORCEMENT NOTICE
If not paid, referred to Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit; an additional fee of $93 and a $100 Victims of Crime Levy – 28 days to pay.
4. ENFORCEMENT STARTS
If still not paid, the offender’s licence will be suspended and they won’t be able to register a vehicle or renew licence. Additional fee of $180. Three months in and the total fine is now up to $940.
5. ADDITIONAL MEASURES
After this point, more stringent measures are introduced, which could escalate to things like impounding a vehicle, seizing and selling assets, taking money directly from the offenders bank account or wages, or forced community service.
Some of the actions taken against serious fine dodgers last year:
Amount taken directly from wages
Amount taken directly from bank accounts
Non-voluntary community service orders issued
Top 5 tips to avoid additional penalties
1. Moan and groan, but pay on time if you can.
2. Call as soon as possible to organise alternative payment arrangements if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay by the due date.
3. The same goes if you want to make a statutory declaration or challenge the fine in court (which means you elect to be prosecuted – we recommend you seek advice before doing so).
4. Get a trustworthy person to check your mail if you’ll be away for more than a couple of weeks.
5. If you find yourself in a bind and aren’t sure what to do next, our road rules team can chat through your options.