Fine flouters face longer jail sentences
People who flout fines could spend longer in jail to pay off their debts under options being explored to recoup an outstanding bill that has blown out to almost $362 million.
Attorney-General Michael Mischin is looking at reducing the $250-a-day “cut out” rate for time behind bars for fine defaulters, as well as scrapping regulations that allow offenders to clear their debts at the same time they are in jail for unrelated offences.
Deducting money from tax refunds, requiring fine defaulters to hand over passports while they owe money and garnishing social security payments are also being explored in a bid to make people pay outstanding fines.
Department of the AttorneyGeneral figures show that despite tough measures introduced more than two years ago to rein in the debt, the amount owed in unpaid infringements and court fines had grown from $329.9 million in March to $361.9 million last month.
Under the string of phased-in measures, the Fines Enforcement Registry has collected $35.5 million more in fines over two years.
Since the stricter measures came into effect, which include clamping wheels and confiscating car registration plates for the worst defaulters, the amount of money entered into time payment arrangements has increased from $54.5 million to $84.8 million.
Department figures show a staggering 306,847 people owe money on infringements and almost 72,000 have not paid court-imposed fines. In the first six months of this year, 160,608 driver’s licence suspensions have been issued for nonpayment of fines, affecting 55,125 people.
Since the changes, which came into effect in August 2013, 857 wheel clamps have been applied to vehicles and 754 sets of registration plates have been removed.
Mr Mischin said he had been exploring reducing the “cut out” jail rate for paying off fines from $250 to encourage offenders to pay or use community work orders.
Attorney-General Michael Mischin.