On the spot fines in Victoria

Criminology Research Council grant ; (27/91)

The aim of this project was to examine the law and practice relating to the use of infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) as a criminal sanction in Victoria and the legal and criminological implications for Victoria and other Australian jurisdictions of the expanding use of this form of penalty. This is the first major Australian research study on the topic.

The empirical component of this research involved obtaining a count of all infringement notices issued in Victoria during a single twelve month period. The financial year 1 July 1990 to 30 June 1991 was selected to allow the outcome of notices issued in this period to be later tracked for 18 months from the last infringement notice issued in the sample.

The study recommends the enactment of an Infringement Act, preferably on a national cooperative basis, to formally define the class of summary offences called infringements and to set boundaries on the measures which may be taken in relation to this category of lesser offences. It would address such matters as the maximum level of monetary punishment, the permissible collateral consequences in terms of conviction and disqualification, and the procedures to be adopted in relation to the issue and enforcement of on-the-spot tickets. This should provide the basis for more principled reliance on this measure than at present.