You may have received a fine if you were accused of breaking COVID-19 coronavirus rules. If you have a fine, there are five things you need to know:
- if you have a concession card, you can ask for your fine to be reduced
- if you cannot pay your fine, you can ask for more time or to pay by instalments (part-payments)
- if you think the fine was wrong or unfair, you can ask for it to be withdrawn (cancelled). If it is not withdrawn, you can challenge the fine in court. That means you ask the court to decide whether you should pay a fine and how much you must pay
- do not ignore your fine. If you ignore your fine, you may have to pay more money. There can be other serious consequences, like having your car wheel-clamped or your property taken and sold to pay for the fine
- if you are not sure about your rights, you can get legal advice. See .
Why was I fined?
The Victorian Government made pandemic orders to help manage the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Those pandemic orders had to be followed, the same as laws.
Before 16 December 2021, the Chief Health Officer made directions under a state of emergency declared by the Victorian Government. Those directions had to be followed, the same as laws. You could be fined if you were accused of not following the Chief Health Officer’s directions. The directions changed often. To find which directions applied when you were fined, you can look at the or . It is complicated – you may have to look at lots of these documents to find which directions applied when you were fined. You can contact Victoria Government Gazette if you need help searching their website.
Who could give me a fine?
There were different agencies making sure the pandemic orders (or previously, the directions made by the Chief Health Officer) were followed. Police and other authorised people could fine you if you did not follow these rules.
We say ‘police’ in this information because it is most likely to be the police who gave you a fine. However, the same rules and processes apply if you were fined by someone else.
If police thought you were not following pandemic orders, they could choose whether to fine you or give you a warning instead of a fine. If you were fined, you will get a document called an infringement notice.
What are my options?
If you have a concession card, you can apply for your fine to be reduced. You must do this before you pay your fine. If you have fully paid your fine, you cannot get a refund. For more information, see .
If you have a fine, you have four options:
- pay the fine by the due date
- agree to pay the fine but ask for more time to pay or ask to pay in instalments (part-payments). See
- apply for a
- dispute the fine if you think the police were wrong to fine you, you have a reasonable excuse or special circumstances. See
Do not ignore your fine. If you ignore a fine, you may have to pay more money. There can be other serious consequences, like having your car wheel-clamped or your property taken and sold to pay for the fine. See
What if I cannot pay on time?
If you agree with your fine, but cannot pay it on time, you can:
- ask to pay by instalments. This means you pay part of the fine each fortnight or month until you have paid the whole amount. You can or contact .
- ask for a payment extension. This means you will have a longer amount of time to pay but will pay the whole amount at once. You can or contact .
What if I do not agree with the fine?
You should take action before the payment due date. This is usually 21 days from the date police gave you the fine.
You can ask police to review your fine. This is called an ‘internal review’. If you ask for an internal review, the police have 90 days to review your fine. You do not need to pay the fine while you are waiting for their response. You can ask for an internal review if:
- you think police made a mistake giving you the fine. For example, what you did was not against the law, or the police thought you were a different person
- you have a reasonable excuse. The law says you are not doing anything wrong if you have a reasonable excuse for not following the directions
- there were . That means there was something very unusual or special about what happened
- you have . Special circumstances include mental illness, intellectual disability, drug addiction, or if you were experiencing family violence or homelessness.
Police may agree or refuse to withdraw your fine. Police may withdraw your fine and give you an official warning instead. A warning means that police say what you did is against the law and you must not do it again. You can only ask police to review your fine once.
If police continue with your fine, you still have these options:
- if you have a concession card, you can apply for your fine to be reduced in some situations. See
- pay your fine by the new due date
- agree to pay the fine but ask for a payment plan. See
- apply to Fines Victoria for an . That means you ask Fines Victoria to stop enforcing your fine. If you are successful on review, Fines Victoria will not cancel your fine but will send it back to the police who will then decide whether to proceed by way of a and . You can apply for enforcement review on the same grounds as an internal review application, including or .
- apply for a
- if your fine was connected to family violence, you can ask Fines Victoria to cancel your fine under the
- choose to go to the Magistrates’ Court to . That means you ask the court to decide whether you should pay a fine and how much you must pay. If you go to court, there is a risk that you could get a larger fine or more serious penalty and a criminal record. You should get legal advice before you make this decision. See .
What happens if I ignore my fine?
Do not ignore your fine. If you ignore your fine, you may have to pay more money. If you keep ignoring fines, there can be other serious consequences. For example, you may have to go to court, have your car wheel-clamped or a sheriff can take your property and sell it to pay for the fine.
If you have fines that you have not paid, you may still have options. For example, you may be able to ask a court to revoke (cancel) your fines if you have special circumstances. You may be able to work off your fines by doing counselling or volunteer work. It will depend on your situation.
What if I am under 18?
If you were under 18 when you got the fine, there is a different process called the Children and Young Persons Infringement Notice System (CAYPINS). If you do not pay your fine, it will go to the Children’s Court and you will be sent a Notice of Court Case.
When you get the notice, you have five options:
- pay your fine before the due date on the notice
- ask for more time to pay
- ask for the fine to be reduced
- ask for your hearing to be adjourned (put off to a later date)
- ask for a magistrate in the Children’s Court to hear your case if you do not think you should pay a fine.
If you are not sure about your rights, get legal advice. See Other support for fines and infringements.
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Reviewed 25 July 2023