You may be tempted to ignore fines in favour of other pressing bills and debts, like your mortgage. But fines are different to other debts, because they’re penalties imposed by the government for breaking the law. The consequences of not paying them can be serious, like the loss of your drivers’ licence or even imprisonment.

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Steps to take if you’re struggling to pay your fines


Find out what your repayment options are

Dealing with fines is different in each state and territory, so contact your local enforcement agency to find out what repayment options are available for you:

Google “fines + [your state]”, for example “fines NSW”.


  • You’ll get at least 28 days to pay or dispute that you owe the fine
  • If you don’t do anything by the due date, you run the risk of being issued with a penalty reminder notice and having to pay additional costs
  • If you continue to do nothing, further action can be taken including, for example, the loss of your driver’s licence and/or money deducted from your wages

If you know you’re not going to be able to pay the fine in full by the due date, continue to the next step.

If you do not believe you owe the fine get legal advice immediately.


Fines fall into two general categories:

  • Infringement notices or on-the-spot fines issued by a police officer, transit officer, parking inspector or council ranger. These only end up in court if they are unpaid or challenged
  • Fines that the court orders you to pay


Work out what you can afford to pay

If you’re struggling to pay back money you owe, the first thing to do is to work out what you can actually afford to pay by doing a simple budget. How to work out what you can afford to pay.

If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditor straight away to put a repayment agreement in place.

If you can’t afford to pay anything
Call us on 1800 007 007 straight away for advice.


Contact the issuing enforcement agency

Call the issuing agency as soon as possible and ask for a payment plan based on what you can afford to pay (from Step 2).

The agency can’t refuse to offer you a payment plan if you hold:

  • a pensioner concession
  • a healthcare card
  • a Veterans’ Affairs Concession Card

If you don’t hold one of these concession cards, you may still apply on the basis of financial hardship. When talking to the agency, it’s important you have evidence that demonstrates why you’re in financial hardship and what you can afford to pay (see Step 2).

Sometimes you can reduce fines by completing community service or certain courses. Ask if this option is available.

If the agency agrees to a payment plan:

  • Start making the repayments as soon as possible (and definitely by the date you agreed)
  • Stick to the arrangement
  • If you know you might miss a payment, call as soon as possible to explain why. Failure to stick to the plan may mean extra penalties


Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help to deal with your financial hardship, you can speak with one of our financial counsellors.

Financial counsellors aren’t judgmental about your circumstances – they’re here to offer you free, confidential and independent advice and assistance.

To speak to a financial counsellor you can:

  • Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 – open Weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Use our live chat service by clicking the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. Live chat is available 9:00 am to 8.00 pm weekdays. If you send a message outside these hours a financial counsellor will get back to you.
  • Make an appointment to see a financial counsellor in your local area – Find a local Financial Counsellor.

What happens if…

Further information on fines by state/territory

The links below provide information about fines and your options for repaying a fine.

ACT    Traffic and parking infringement information

NSW   Revenue – Fines and Fees

NT      Fines information

QLD   Fines and enforcement

SA      Fines enforcement and recovery unit

Tas     Monetary Penalties Enforcement Service

Vic      Fines Victoria

WA     Fines and infringements

I don't pay

Once you’ve received a reminder notice that the fine hasn’t been paid by the due date – and you’ve taken no other action, such as asking for a payment plan – then further enforcement action may occur.

Unpaid fines may lead to:

  • An enforcement order being made against you, meaning extra costs
  • Your driver’s licence or car registration being suspended
  • Deductions being made from your wages
  • Your property being seized and sold
  • A requirement that you undertake community work
  • You being sent to prison.

I go bankrupt. Are my fines wiped out?

It varies and depends on the nature of the fine. If you’re considering bankruptcy, call us and speak to one of our financial counsellors.