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.
Even if you didn’t have special circumstances at the time you got the fine, you can still apply to have your fines reviewed if:
- you can show that you have serious long-term circumstances and
- it is not possible for you to either pay your fines or deal with them in other ways.
You will need show more than just financial hardship.
Note – if you are affected by 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driver and the family violence meant that you couldn’t nominate the driver, you may be able to apply to get the fine withdrawn under the Family Violence . 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 This means unless the fines are withdrawn you will have to plead guilty at court and there will be a record of this
- you may need to attend court at least once for a hearing about the penalties for the fines
- your demerit points may be affected if your fines were for driving offences that carry demerit points
- VicRoads may be notified of your medical condition, disability or addiction, and may ask that you undertake a medical of your fitness to drive
- if the fines go to court, you will have a debt of $40 for each Citylink or Eastlink toll fine. This is not a court fine, it is the toll company’s administrative costs for prosecuting the matter in court.
Read more about possible outcomes and penalties from a special circumstances application for a fine.
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 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 .
Step 2: Get a report
Get a report confirming you had special circumstances when you broke the law, or that you are experiencing serious long-term circumstances that make it difficult for you to either pay your fines or deal with them in other ways. You can ask for a report from your:
- treating specialist, such as a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist
- financial counsellor, social worker, drug counsellor or disability support worker or
- family violence case worker or housing support worker.
sk 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.
Download our sample letters
To make this process easy for you, we have provided samples letters for you. Download the kit that relates to your special circumstance:
Make sure you keep copies of all your letters.
Alternatively, you can apply for special circumstances online at Fines .
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 Magistrates’ Court to be dealt with as a criminal offence.
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 (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 court
You will get a charge and summons informing you of your court date and which court to go to.
You should take all the letters you provided to Fines Victoria to court. You should give these letters to the magistrate and explain that you applied for special circumstances enforcement review.
They will consider this information when making a decision about your sentence and what happens to your unpaid fines.
See Going to court about your special circumstances
Find out how you can get 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 14 September 2022