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A fine is a monetary penalty for breaking a law. There are many offences you can be fined for, but the most common ones relate to breaking traffic, public transport, minor criminal, and local council laws.

Penalty notices

The most common types of fines are penalty notices, also called infringement notices, on-the-spot fines, tickets, or criminal infringement notices (CINs). They can be issued in person, attached to a vehicle, or sent to you in the mail, and contain details of the alleged offence and the amount you need to pay.

LawAccess NSW has a great flowchart on your options for dealing with your penalty notice.

LawAccess NSW also provides detailed information about your options for dealing with a penalty notice, including how to pay the fine, what to do if you disagree with it, what happens if you decide to go to court and what you can do if your driver’s licence is suspended.

If you’ve received a fine for a traffic infringement captured on camera, go to Service NSW to view the photo images.

Court fines

If you go to court and have a fine imposed by the magistrate, you’ll usually be ordered to pay it within 28 days. You’ll be sent a Notice of Penalty which tells you the amount you have to pay and the due date.

More information about dealing with your court fine.

Non-payment of a toll

A toll notice requiring payment is not a fine. However, if you do not respond to it, you may be sent a penalty notice for not paying the toll which is a fine. You can use the information here to deal with this fine.

Don’t ignore your penalty notices and fines

If you don’t act to deal with any of these fines, Revenue NSW will add enforcement costs to them and you could have your licence and registration suspended. The additional costs and penalties for unlicensed driving or driving an uninsured/unregistered car are a lot higher and more severe than your original fine.

Keep your address updated

Not knowing about a fine is not a defence, so always remember to update your address if you move, especially if you have a car. Penalty notices sent by mail and reminders will be sent to your last known address. If you haven’t updated it, you could find yourself with large debts for fines, enforcement costs, and additional costs and penalties.

Private fines

You may be sent a letter or given a document that looks like a fine when you breach a rule that applies to private property or organisations. This isn’t really a fine, although the private organisation might call it that. These notices commonly relate to private car parks such as those found at shopping centres, clubs, or on other private land. Private fines can’t be referred to Revenue NSW for enforcement, but the private organisation might take you to court if you don’t deal with it, so you shouldn’t ignore their letters. If you receive a ‘fine’ from a private organisation and you don’t believe you should have to pay it, contact us for legal advice.

Read more information on dealing with private fines.

Don’t get fined travelling on public transport

When using public transport in Sydney, you need to tap on when you board and tap off with the same card when you arrive at your stop. If you are transferring to another service, you need to tap on again and tap off at your destination.

When you tap on and off correctly with sufficient balance on your Opal card or bank/credit card:

  1. You’re charged the correct fare.
  2. You won’t be fined for travelling on an invalid ticket.
  3. Your trip will count towards your Weekly Travel Rewards.
  4. If transferring to another service within an hour of tapping off the previous trip, the trips will be combined into a single trip meaning you’ll be charged a lesser fare for your combined travel.

If you’re caught travelling without a valid ticket, not paying the correct fare, or using a concession ticket without being in possession of your proof of entitlement card (usually this will be your student card), you may be issued with a fine of $200 (Maximum $550).

More information about transport fines in NSW.

Further information

More information on fines, other than private fines, and how to deal with them is available at Revenue NSW.

If you need advice or assistance in dealing with any type of fines, our Legal Service can help you.


This information is current as at December 2019 and is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.

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