Huge volume of unpaid fines prompts enforcement rethink

A report by the Sentencing Advisory Council on the enforcement of fines and infringement notices says Victoria is losing over $400 million in unpaid fines per year. It calls for a distinction to be drawn between those who can’t afford to pay and those who simply refuse, and recommends enforcement methods that target refusers, such as flagging their passports: “Restrictions on international travel are an appropriate means of targeting persons who are likely to have the capacity to pay a court fine or infringement penalty (in light of the cost of international travel) but instead wilfully default.” On the other hand, it says those with less capacity to pay should have their fines reduced. The report identifies “high volume tolling offenders” as a specific problem—illustrated yesterday when a warrant was issued by the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court for the arrest of a woman who owes nearly $300,000 in infringement penalties for more than 1000 unpaid tolls.