Help with Traffic Infringement Notices: What to do when you can’t Afford to Pay the Fine

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No one likes receiving fines but it’s even worse if your financial situation means that you simply can’t afford to pay them.

Keep in mind that if you want to contest the infringement notice, and it was one caught on camera, you are allowed to make an application to view the images.

This will not cost you anything.

If you don’t pay your fine by the due date, you will get a reminder notice from the State Debt Recovery Office.

This gives you an extra 28 days to pay your fine.

However, if you don’t pay your fine after this time period, the fine amount will increase by an extra $65, which is an enforcement fee.

After this time, other penalties might apply, like licence suspension, vehicle registration cancellation, or, if the fine is still not paid, property seizure, or money taken from your salary or bank account.

Enforced community service is another way that authorities may collect the equivalent amount of money until you have worked off your fine.

It’s clear that the penalties for not paying fines are quite harsh.

While fines may be distressing if you are going through financial hardship, ignoring an infringement notice is probably the worst choice you could make.

Fortunately, there are better options available for people who simply cannot afford to pay large sums of money all at once.

Two options that may help with traffic infringing notices that have incurred fines are:

  • Payment by instalment
  • Request for a review

Paying by instalment

Paying by instalment is an option that you can arrange with the State Debt Recovery Office.

The minimum payment is $40 per fortnight. In order to pay by this method, you will need to organise this and start paying before the fine is due.

This will allow you a longer time to pay off the debt, and you will be sent a new payment schedule, telling you when you must make future payments.

However, if you miss a payment, the usual penalties will apply.

Another option is to pay out of your government benefit – this option is also a method of paying by instalment and has the advantage of eliminating the usual enforcement fee of $65. But in order to opt-in to payment by instalment on government benefit, you must apply early.

Requesting a review

Going to court will often not be of help with traffic infringing notices, as you will incur court costs as well as the possibility that the magistrate may increase the fine.

Instead, a better option is to seek leniency by requesting a review.

Using this process, you may be able to get your fine changed to a caution, which means that although you committed the offence, you will not have to pay the fine or lose demerit points.

These will be issued when the officer making the decision believes that it is appropriate to issue a caution instead.

The main factors they will consider are:

  • Whether your offence included any risks to public safety, damage to property or financial loss;
  • How serious the offence was;
  • Whether the offender had a mental or intellectual disability;
  • Whether the offender committed the offence unknowingly or not deliberately; or
  • Whether the person is cooperative and complies with requests to stop the offending behaviour

If you are currently in trouble due to unpaid fines or need help with traffic infringing notices it may be best to get legal advice.

While an expensive criminal lawyer is not always an option for everyone, it may be possible to get free help from Legal Aid.

Alternatively, if you need help with traffic infringing notices that you want to fight, visit a blog about it by clicking here, which discusses the best ways that you can do this.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.


  1. Kris

    Could really do with some help on this matter of unpaid fines please!!

  2. sydney decotter

    I got a fine for 623 dollars and as am a pensioner i can’t afford to do the payment. Is it possible to do it by instalment and how to do it. Thks

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