Overhaul of WA’s fines enforcement regime: How much will it cost you?

The Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill 2019 (WA) was introduced into State Parliament on 26 September 2019.

This Bill transform the way that fines are enforced and recovered in Western Australia.

Did you know, currently you can be imprisoned if you fail to pay a fine?

One of the key changes proposed will see imprisonment for non-payment of fines restricted so only a Magistrate can issue a warrant for imprisonment and only under strict circumstances as a last resort.

Additionally, the amendments to the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Act 1994 (WA) also includes:

  • The introduction of garnishee orders, which will enable the Sheriff to issue orders to a debtor’s employer or bank and require them to provide funds from salaries or bank accounts. Safeguards have been built into this process to require a “protected amount” to remain in a person’s salary or bank account to avoid creating undue hardship;
  • The introduction of a statutory concept of “hardship”, which includes mental illness and disability, experience of family and domestic violence, homelessness, drug and alcohol problems and financial hardship;
  • The introduction of “work and development permits” for debtors experiencing hardship affecting their ability to pay their fine debts;
  • A prohibition on issuing licence suspension orders for debtors whose last known address is in a remote area, in recognition of the disproportionate impact of suspended licenses on debtors living in remote areas without public transport infrastructure; and
  • A new “conditional release undertaking” model to allow offenders who have been arrested on a warrant to be brought before the court for a warrant of commitment inquiry to be released.

The Bill will also see the cancellation of all unserved warrants for unpaid fines on the day after the proposed new legislation comes into force, removing the fear of imprisonment for fine default for thousands of Western Australians.

This Bill comes from the recommendations of the Coronial Inquiry into the death of Ms Dhu, who was taken into custody on a warrant of commitment for unpaid fines in 2014.

At Kate King Legal our team of experienced criminal lawyers can assist you with your criminal charges resulting from unpaid fines.

For a free 15 minute consultation call us now on (08) 9467 3333 or click here to fill out an online enquiry.