How to make a special circumstances application

How to make a special circumstances application

You can apply to get your fines reviewed if:

  • you experienced special circumstances when you got the fine and
  • you found it difficult to avoid breaking the law.

You have special circumstances if you:

  • had a mental or intellectual disability, disorder, disease or illness
  • had a serious addiction to drugs, alcohol or volatile substance
  • are a victim of family violence
  • were homeless.

Note – if you are a victim of family violence, you may be eligible for the Family Violence Scheme

If you are (or have been) a victim of family violence and this resulted in you getting the fine, or if you were not the driver and the family violence meant that you couldn’t nominate the driver, you may be able to apply to get the fine withdrawn under the Family Violence Scheme. This is different to a special circumstances application.

You should speak to a lawyer to see if this option is open to you. Contact Legal Help on 1300 792 387 for more information about how this process may affect you.

What to consider before you apply

If you decide to apply for special circumstances:

  • you must accept that you broke the law. This means unless the fines are withdrawn you will have to plead guilty at court and there will be a record of this
  • your demerit points may be affected if your fines were for driving offences
  • VicRoads may be notified of your medical condition, disability or addiction, and may ask that you undertake a medical review of your fitness to drive
  • you will have a debt of $40 for each Citylink or Eastlink toll offence. This is not a court fine, it is the toll company’s administrative costs. The toll company may not seek payment of this debt.

Contact Legal Help on 1300 792 387 for more information about how this process may affect you.

How to apply

When a fine is not paid, Fines Victoria, can take action against you. This is called ‘enforcement’. 

To have enforcement of your fines cancelled you must prove to Fines Victoria that you had special circumstances at the time of the fines. 

Step 1: Request a list of fines

Write to or visit Fines Victoria to ask for a list of all your unpaid fines. Fines Victoria may take a few weeks to get back to you. Depending on the fines you have, you may also be able to get a list of your unpaid fines online from Fines Victoria.

Step 2: Get a report

Get a report confirming you had special circumstances when you broke the law from a:

  • treating specialist, such as a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist
  • family violence case worker or housing support worker.

Ask them to write the report for free. If they will not do this, talk to them about how much it costs for writing the report and what you can afford to pay.

Step 3: Apply for an enforcement review

Once you have obtained a list of your fines from Fines Victoria, and the report from your treating specialist or support worker, you can ask Fines Victoria to review the decision by the agency to issue the fine. This process is called ‘enforcement review’. Fines Victoria will determine whether, given your circumstances, it is appropriate to take action to enforce the fine. 

Make sure you keep copies of all your letters.

Alternatively, you can apply for special circumstances online at Fines Victoria.

Decision by Fines Victoria

Fines Victoria will notify you in writing of its decision. If Fines Victoria decides you have special circumstances, it will cancel enforcement of the fines and refer the matter back to the agency that issued the fines. The agency may decide to withdraw the fine and/or issue an official warning instead. However, the agency may also withdraw the fine and decide to proceed against you by way of charge and summons.

If this happens, the offences will be referred to the Special Circumstances List in the Magistrates’ Court to be dealt with as a criminal offence.

If the agency does nothing, after 90 days the fines are considered to have been withdrawn, which means that you will not have to do anything further about them.

If Fines Victoria finds that you do not have special circumstances, you will have 21 days to either pay the fine, apply for a payment arrangement, apply for the Family Violence Scheme (if you are a victim of family violence) or apply for a work and development permit (WDP).

If Fines Victoria decides you do not have special circumstances, or the agency that fined you decides to proceed by way of charge and summons, contact us on 1300 792 387 for free legal advice over the phone. 

If you are referred to the Special Circumstances List

You will get a letter informing you of your court date and which courtroom to go to. When you arrive, tell the clerk at the front of the courtroom that you are present.

The Magistrates’ Court will have a copy of the report that you sent to Fines Victoria when you applied for special circumstances. They will consider this information when making a decision about your sentence and what happens to your unpaid fines.

See Going to the Special Circumstances List and the Magistrates' Court.

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