Thinking of appealing or disputing a speeding fine?
If you receive a speeding fine or infringement notice, you can dispute the notice in the following ways:
- Apply for an internal review by the infringement agency; or
- Apply to challenge the infringement notice in the Magistrates’ Court.
Note, internal review is not available for excessive speeding offences, that is, if you are caught driving 25km/h or more above the speed limit or driving at 130km/h or more.
You may apply to have an infringement notice reviewed by the issuing agency, such as Victoria Police. However, only one internal review application is available for each infringement notice. When requesting an internal review, it is important to avoid making any admissions if you later intend to challenge the infringement notice in court. The information you provide in your application may be used against you in court.
Under the Infringements Act 2006, a ‘special circumstances’ application may be made by a person who has serious personal issues or mental health illness.
Special circumstances may apply if a person was unable to understand that the conduct constituted an offence or to control conduct that constituted an offence and, at the time of the offence, the person:
- had a mental or intellectual disability, disorder, disease or illness;
- had a serious addiction to drugs, alcohol or a volatile substance;
- experienced homelessness; or
- was affected by family violence.
Special circumstances may also apply to a person who cannot deal with infringements due to severe disabling long-term circumstances.
Excessive speeding fines
Internal reviews are not available for excessive speeding fines issued for driving 25km or more over the speed limit, or driving more than 130km if the speed limit is 110km.
If you receive an excessive speeding fine, your driver’s licence will be suspended, or in some cases cancelled, within 28 days. The length of the suspension imposed will be dependent on the seriousness of the offence or the alleged speed.
If you need further advice, you should engage an experienced traffic lawyer. This can often save you a lot of time and money.
If you were not driving the vehicle at the time of the offence, you have 28 days to nominate the responsible driver before your licence is suspended or cancelled.
If you wish to contest an infringement agency’s decision further, you can apply to the Magistrates’ Court to challenge the infringement. If so, you need to apply to the court urgently, before the due date on your infringement notice. If your application is accepted, your matter will be heard at the Magistrates’ Court, and a Magistrate will determine an appropriate penalty.
However, the Magistrate may impose a more serious penalty, and you may incur extra costs than in the initial infringement, including licence disqualification or suspension, unpaid community work, fine or conviction. If the Magistrate determines the infringement is invalid, your case will be dismissed or discharged.
Even if you are found not guilty, the court appearance and outcome will be recorded on your criminal record. This approach is intended to deter people from challenging infringements unless there are valid reasons.
Appealing a fine in court, therefore, has serious implications. If you believe you have grounds to challenge an infringement notice, seek legal advice and support from an experienced traffic lawyer as early as possible.
Notice of Final Demand or Enforcement Warrant stage
It is too late to nominate another driver if your infringement has reached the notice of final demand or enforcement warrant stage. However, you may still be able to nominate a responsible person if your fine is for:
- A traffic or toll (Melbourne CityLink/Linkt or Eastlink) related offence upon application to the Magistrates’ Court for an Infringement Extension.
- A parking offence upon application for an Enforcement Review on the grounds of being a ‘person unaware’ of the infringement.
A person subject to family violence who cannot nominate the person responsible for an offence is eligible for the Family Violence Scheme, which may allow the infringement to be withdrawn.
Appeals from the Magistrates’ Court
Under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic), if you are convicted at the Magistrates’ Court you have the right to appeal to the County Court against the conviction or sentence or both (s 254).
A party to a criminal proceeding (excluding a committal proceeding) in the Magistrates’ Court also has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal on a question of law (i.e. a legal issue, not a factual issue) (s 272).
Appeals are a very technical area of law and need to be handled by criminal lawyers with experience in the appellant courts. Choosing to appeal a decision can not be taken lightly. If you are considering appealing a Magistrates Court decision, seek advice from one of our experienced appeals lawyers.
Read below for an interesting case study in which a driver attempted to appeal speeding infringements to the Court of Appeal on an error of law.
“Absurd” speeding fine appeal to the Court of Appeal
In the above case, the appellant was intercepted by police on 20 August 2020 while driving a Range Rover Discovery and was issued two infringement notices. The appellant was found guilty of exceeding the speed limit by less than 35km/h, contrary to r 20(1)(a) of the Road Safety Rules 2017 (Vic), and a charge of driving a vehicle without a number plate displayed contrary to r 50(1) of the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009 (Vic).
The appellant was fined $750 for each charge without conviction and $84.40 statutory costs.
The appellant did not contest the facts of the case but challenged the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court to hear and determine the charges and contested the court’s interpretation of statute. The appellant raised 71 questions of law in 12 categories, including questions regarding the nature of the court, the validity of orders made by the Magistrates’ Court, the appellant’s status as a living man, and the validity of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).
The appellant argued that he is a ‘living man in private jurisdiction’ as opposed to a ‘legal person in the public jurisdiction’. He contended that private and public jurisdictions do not mix, and as a living man, he is not subject to statutes but only to common law and equity rules. He also argued that the Magistrate misunderstood the definition of the term ‘vehicle’ and ‘driver’ in the Road Safety Act 1986.
The respondent argued that the appellant, as a person or a ‘living man’, is subject to the court’s jurisdiction and required to comply with its orders. The respondent also contended that all forms of persons, natural and artificial, are recognized by the law as legal persons and are subject to all law, whether its source be the Constitution, statute, or judge-made law.
Judge John Dixon J rejected the appellant’s arguments, stating that the law does not recognize an alternate, or paper, identity of the kind described by the appellant. The judge also stated that all persons are subject to all law, whether its source be the Constitution, statute, or judge-made law. The judge further stated that the appellant’s arguments, if followed to a logical conclusion, denied that individual persons driving cars on public roads was an activity regulated by the Road Safety Act.
Section 35(a) of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic) provides that when interpreting legislation, a construction that promotes the purpose or object underlying it shall be preferred to a construction that would not promote that purpose or object. Section 1 of the Act identifies its purposes. The judge concluded that the construction proposed by the appellant is clearly inimical to the purposes of the Act and was absurd. There was no error demonstrated in the Magistrate’s interpretation of the terms of the Road Safety Act. The Magistrate correctly ruled that the appellant’s car fell within the Road Safety Act definition of ‘vehicle’ and that the appellant was the driver of that vehicle.
There were many other arguments raised by the appellant that the judge did not need to deal with. For example, the appellant demonstrated a comprehensive misunderstanding of tax law by submitting that because Victoria Police had an ABN, it was a private corporation that would require a written contract with him to enforce any remedies. The appellant also argued that unidentified principles of common law and equity apply to the regulatory scheme constituted by the Act.
The appellant, contending that s 25D of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) was relevant, sought to raise error through inadequate reasons. Although this reasoning was flawed, the judge was satisfied that the Magistrate gave adequate, albeit brief, reasons for her decision.
In conclusion, the appellant failed to persuade the court that there was any error of law by the Magistrate, and the appeal was dismissed.