Fines and Expiation Notices
It’s unfortunate that at some stage of their driving lives, many drivers will have been fined for a traffic offence. Not only can the fines really hurt the hip pocket, but accumulated demerit points can also pose a risk of licence loss. However, because it is sometimes possible to challenge a fine, it helps to understand your rights and obligations in respect of on-the-spot-fines.
What are on-the-spot-fines?
On-the-spot-fines are also known as traffic infringement notices or expiation notices. Police can issue these fines for various traffic offences. They are fines that are issued as soon as the offence allegedly occurs. Typically, they can be issued when police stop a driver or when a speed camera or red light camera detects an infringement.
Some of the most common offences that incur on-the-spot-fines are:
- Using a mobile phone whilst driving.
- Failing to stop at a red light.
- Failing to wear a seatbelt.
- Driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle.
South Australian law labels these offences as minor offences.
Why issue fines instead of prosecuting?
It is generally considered that issuing fines rather than summoning a person to Court is a more efficient way of managing minor offences.
How it works
Upon receiving an on-the-spot-fine (or expiation notice), you have 28 days from the date of issue to pay the fine if you wish to admit the offence and accept the expiation notice. Payment of the expiation notice means that there is no Court appearance for the offence but it may result in demerit points being attributed to your licence.
Electing to be prosecuted
If you receive an expiation notice and wish to dispute the alleged offence, or if you wish to apply to the Court to reduce the number of demerit points for the offence, you may elect to be prosecuted for the offence. This will involve court proceedings. If you do elect to be prosecuted, you should not pay the expiation notice. This is because payment of the fine constitutes an admission that you committed the offence.
After making the election to be prosecuted, you will receive a letter from the Expiation Notices Branch of the South Australia Police, advising that the expiation notice has been withdrawn. Then, usually within 12 weeks, you will receive a summons detailing the alleged offence and the first Court date.
The decision to elect to be prosecuted is final. This means that:
- You can’t change your mind or have the expiation notice reinstated after making the election.
- You can’t elect to be prosecuted after entering into a voluntary payment arrangement.
- You can’t elect to be prosecuted after paying the expiation notice.
If you have paid an on-the-spot-fine or expiation notice in error, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
For further information on court processes, click here.
Our traffic lawyers have excellent experience in all aspects of fines and expiation notices. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. Because the sooner you act, often the better off you’ll be.