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Pay up or else: justice dept

by PATRICK BRISCOE

[Published on the front-page of the Sandringham / Brighton Advertiser; August 18, 1997. This is from a local paper which is delivered weekly to everyone's letterbox.]

BAYSIDE residents owe a staggering $3.2 million in unpaid fines.

Figures released last week reveal the Sheriff's Office has issued more than 18,000 warrants to recover the money.

In some parts of the municipality three out of four households have been earmarked in a State Government-backed blitz to get fine defaulters to pay their dues.

Brighton residents top the Bayside league table of fine defaulters, owing more than $750,000 with more than 4500 warrants issued to seize property or jail offenders.

Black Rock and Beaumaris residents owe more than $450,000, with warrants outstanding for two out of every five households.

In Hampton, defaulters owe $401,000 on more than 2300 warrants, while Brighten East, Highett and Sandringham residents owe another $1 million.

The Sheriff's Office figures show parking fines account for almost half of the $200 million in unpaid fines across the state.

Last week the Department of Justice put defaulters on notice.

Public education manager Greg Allen said there was no escape for people who didn't pay their fines.

"People who ignore infringement notices, courtesy letters, court orders and finally Sheriff's Office notices issued in respect of fines, risk having their property seized or being jailed," he said.

"The Sheriff's Office conducts both ongoing and special operations across the state to execute warrants for the non-payment of overdue fines.

"Special operations include working with the police to randomly check drivers for any outstanding warrants against them."

Mr Allen said the warrants were issued to collect unpaid fines issued by police, parking tickets, court fines, public transport fare evasion, and red light and speed camera offences.

Police, government and other enforcement agencies issue about 2.3 million fines a year.

Mr Allen said offenders were given three chances to pay before the Sheriff's Office issued a warrant.

"On-the-spot fines progress through four stages: infringement notice, courtesy letter, notice of penalty enforcement and penalty enforcement warrant," he said. "Any person who believes that they may have overdue outstanding fines should contact Penalty Enforcement," he said.

"If the fine has not reached the stage of becoming a court order, then the law enforcement agency that issued the infringement notice should be contacted."

Mr Allen said court orders issued for unpaid fines had an "infinite lifespan".

"They don't go away. I urge people to jog their memories and consider their responsibilities," he said.

To find out if you have any outstanding warrants phone 9628 9100.


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