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An infringement notice (IN; previously called a penalty infringement notice or PIN) is used by EPA as a way of dealing with common breaches of the law where the impacts are not considered serious enough to warrant prosecution.
Offences for which INs may be applied are well-defined and there is usually a low level of danger to the environment, health or wellbeing. Examples are:
- failure to comply with waste transport regulations
- low level waste discharges, environmental hazards or non-compliance
- littering, including dropping a cigarette butt from a vehicle
- motor vehicle (noise or emissions) offences.
An IN imposes a financial penalty for breaches of the law. Three types of INs can be issued by an EPA authorised officer:
- A litter IN for an offence against the litter provisions of the EP Act. Fines range from 2 penalty units for an extinguished cigarette, smaller item like a napkin or larger items of litter such as fast food packaging, to 4 penalty units for a lit cigarette.
- A motor vehicle IN of 5 penalty units for an individual or up to 10 penalty units for a company.
- An environmental IN for any other offence against the EP Act. Fines can be up to 12 penalty units for an individual or 50 penalty units for a company.
See Fees and penalties for the current value of fee and penalty units.
More information about INs and the circumstances in which they are issued, is available in EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
What to do if you have received an IN
A person receiving an infringement notice (IN) has the following options:
The Infringements Act (2006) provides for the payment of fines in instalments in certain circumstances. Please call 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) to confirm your eligibility. Holding one of the following health or concession cards entitles you to automatic eligibility:
- Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Card or Gold Card
- Centrelink Health Care Card (any type, including non-means tested).
Disputing an IN
There are three ways to dispute an IN.
Provide a statutory declaration (litter IN only)
A statutory declaration may be sent to EPA if either of the following two circumstances applies:
You are nominating a different owner or driver of the vehicle. The declaration must include the full name and residential or business address of the person nominated. For more information please refer to section 45I (1) of the EP Act. If you believe you did not commit the offence. The declaration must explain why and identify who was responsible for the vehicle and its location at the time of the offence. If this is not known, the declaration needs to reflect this. It is important to note that the Evidence Act (1958) governs the use of statutory declarations. Anyone who knowingly makes a false declaration commits an offence which carries significant penalties, including imprisonment.
Once a statutory declaration is submitted, EPA will advise of the outcome, which may include withdrawing the infringement, re-issuing it, or advising that the fine still needs to be paid.
Apply for an internal review
The Infringements Act (2006), in conjunction with any amendments, allows anyone who receives an IN to apply for an internal review by the issuing agency (in this case EPA). The review process is independent to the parties involved in making the original decision.
You can apply for a review of an IN for any of these reasons:
- You believe the decision to serve the IN was contrary to law.
- You believe the decision to serve the IN involved mistaken identity.
- Special circumstances apply – see below.
- There are exceptional circumstances that should excuse the conduct for which the infringement notice was served.
- You were unaware that an infringement notice had been issued against you (the application must be made within 14 days of you becoming aware of the IN).
An application for internal review must:
- be made in writing
- state the grounds for review
- provide current address details
- contain a letter of consent, or other evidence of consent, if done on behalf of a third party.
An application for internal review can be made at any time before the infringement is lodged with the Infringements Court, or before the expiry of the period for bringing a proceeding to court in relation to the offence.
Download Application for internal review (infringements only) (PDF 74KB), print and complete the form and send it to EPA Victoria, GPO Box 4395, Melbourne, VIC 3001, or fax it to 03 9695 2520. Refer to this factsheet for more information.
On receiving an internal review application EPA must review the decision within 90 days (unless further information has been requested by EPA, in which case the time frame is extended). The applicant will be notified within 21 days of EPA making a decision.
If the decision is upheld, the fine and any associated costs must be paid within 14 days of the applicant being served with written notice advising of the outcome of the review.
If the fine is not paid, the matter will be referred by EPA to the Infringements Court or charges will be laid in the Magistrates’ Court.
Special circumstances internal review
In relation to requests for internal review, ‘special circumstances’ means:
- a mental or intellectual disability, disorder, disease or illness where the disability, disorder, disease or illness results in the person being unable–
- to understand that conduct constitutes an offence; or
- to control conduct that constitutes an offence; or
- a serious addiction to drugs, alcohol or a volatile substance within the meaning of section 57 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 where the serious addiction results in the person being unable–
- to understand that conduct constitutes an offence; or
- to control conduct which constitutes an offence; or
- homelessness determined in accordance with the prescribed criteria (if any) where the homelessness results in the person being unable to control conduct which constitutes an offence; or
- family violence within the meaning of section 5 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 where the person is a victim of family violence and the family violence results in the person being unable to control conduct which constitutes an offence.
Choose to have the matter dealt with in court
Those who do not want the offence to be dealt with as a IN are able to exercise their right to take the matter to the Magistrates’ Court to be determined at a formal hearing.
If the matter goes to court the magistrate will decide the case and any appropriate penalty. If the magistrate finds the party guilty of the offence for which the IN was initially issued, the magistrate must take into account the maximum penalty under the EP Act when deciding an appropriate penalty, and may order the party to pay EPA’s costs.
This may mean that a higher fine than the initial one under the IN may be ordered by the court. Alternatively, the court may decide on an alternative sentence available to it under the Sentencing Act (1991) or the EP Act.