I got a parking fine and a speeding fine ages ago, both of which I never quite got around to paying. Now I’m getting letters telling me to pay and adding a bit to the amount each week or two. How can I beat these monkeys off?
Fines suck, so avoid getting them.
But if it’s too late for that (and it sounds like it is), then you have a few options for settling the debt before it blows out.
Because if you’re too slow sorting it out, you risk getting slapped with late payment, interest and enforcement charges, so make sure you get started solving the problem before the due date on the top of the fine.
If you reckon you’ve been stitched up, you may want to contest it. Scratch that, you definitely want to contest it.
Details of how to fight for your right 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 – Australian Federal Police – Fines
- New South Wales – State Debt Recovery Office
- Northern Territory – Fines Recovery Unit
- Queensland – State Penalties Enforcement Registry
- South Australia – Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit
- Tasmania – Monetary Penalties Enforcement Service
- Victoria – Victorian State Government – Fines
- Western Australia – Attorney General’s Department
So look up the law, follow the relevant processes and cross those fingers.
Assuming your two-bit excuse fails and you’re facing up to 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, others could include:
- 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 (because you might as well share your welfare)
So you have some reasonable payment alternatives, which are all much better than not paying and letting it balloon out like the financial black eye it is.
What if I don’t pay?
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)
- Having some of your wages taken (what should have happened on day one)
- Have a charge registered over your land (basically, bad news)
So don’t take the risk, get on to sorting out those fines today. And always buy your train ticket.
Image: Aaron Jacobs, via Flickr