Apart from a waste of money, incurring a fine can be incredibly frustrating. Whether it’s a traffic or parking fine, court fines or something as odd as a fishing fine, all fines should be paid and never left to accumulate if you can avoid doing so.

Unfortunately unpaid fines don’t just disappear – they go to the NSW State Debt Recovery Office and incur a further penalty of $50.

The SDRO has various options for enforcing payment of the fines that include: suspending your driver’s licence; cancelling your vehicle registration; property seizure; garnishee order on your wages and/or bank account; charge on land; and Community Service Orders or Work and Development Orders.

The best approach is to try to pay a fine upon issue or look into a payment arrangement that suits both yourself and the issuer of the fine.

The SDRO also has the authority to collect and enforce Commonwealth fines such as taxation, social security/Centrelink or breach of customs laws. Commonwealth fines can only be enforced by the SDRO if a NSW court has imposed the fine.

The SDRO does not have the authority to enforce fines issued or ordered against individuals by agencies or courts in other states or territories of Australia.

If your fine is referred to the SDRO and you can’t pay it, then you can apply for one of the following:

  • Time To Pay Arrangement
  • Work and Development Order
  • Stay of the Enforcement Order
  • An annulment of the fine
  • A write-off
  • Remission of the fine

Or, you could consider bankruptcy, as penalty notices and enforcement orders imposed in New South Wales are covered by this claim. However, court fines are not, and you will be required to pay these fines regardless (see later section on bankruptcy).

Fines imposed by a court must be paid within 28 days. You can seek an extension or make an instalment payment arrangement by completing a written application and lodging it with the court. If you do not pay the fine within the allotted time, or do not make all instalment payments required, the fine will be referred to the SDRO for further action.