Fines suck, so avoid getting them. But if it’s too late for that, then you have a few options for getting the debt monkeys off your back.
If you’re too slow sorting your fines out, you risk getting slapped with a late payment, interest and enforcement charges. So you’ll basically add more and more debt on top of the original fine.
So whatever you do, make sure you look at your payment options before the due date on the top of the fine. There are basically three avenues for you, each with multiple choose-your-own adventure storylines.
Contesting the fine
If you reckon you’ve been stitched up, you may want to contest it. Actually, scratch that, you definitely want to contest it.
Details of how to fight for your rights will be on the notice itself. Depending on where you did the deed, you’ll generally be dealing with one of these places:
- Australian Capital Territory – ACT Policing – Fines
- New South Wales – NSW Revenue – request a review
- Northern Territory – Fines Recovery Unit
- Queensland – QLD Government – Disputing a fine
- South Australia – Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit
- Tasmania – Monetary Penalties Enforcement Service
- Victoria – Fines Victoria – request a review
- Western Australia – WA Fines Enforcement Registry
So look up the law, follow the relevant processes and cross those fingers. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the fine notice just because you think it wasn’t deserved.
Negotiating the fine
Assuming your two-bit excuse fails and you’re facing payment, you actually have a lot of options. Of course, paying it straight up is one of them, but depending on the agency and nature of the fine, other actions to take are:
- Entering into a long-term payment plan
- Performing community service to work off the debt (this usually requires you to don a high-vis vest)
- Being granted an extension to pay (pushing the inevitable back a bit)
- Arranging regular deductions to pay the fine from your Centrelink payments via a free service called Centrepay
So you have some reasonable payment alternatives. All are much better than not paying and letting your fine balloon out like a financial black eye.
Not paying the fine
If you don’t settle the score, the enforcement agencies will come-a-knockin’, usually wielding one of these sticks:
- Suspension or cancellation of your driver’s licence or car registration
- Court enforcement action (telling you to do something you don’t want to)
- Publication of your name on a website for all to see (including the bank manager)
- Civil enforcement where your possessions can be taken and sold (and the courts aren’t as good at selling your stuff as you)
- Taking some of your wages (aka ‘paying the fine’)
- Have a charge registered over your land (basically, very bad news)
So don’t take the risk, get on to sorting out those fines today. And always buy your train ticket.