How To Contest Your Myki Fine

19 August 2015

A few weeks ago, I got a myki fine. There I was at the tram stop, looking on in dread as the inspectors noted down the address to send my invoice – sorry, infringement notice. And as I stood there, I thought to myself, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if someone wrote about how to dispute a myki fine in Farrago?’.

So with the help of Phoebe Churches, manager of UMSU Legal and Advocacy, who regularly advises students about myki fines, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

If you’re caught without a valid ticket, you have two choices: you can pay the $75 on-the-spot fine, of which no records are kept, or the $217 fine which can be challenged.

Assuming you’ve chosen the latter option in the hope that you’ll be able to get your fine revoked, you’ll receive an infringement letter in the mail a few weeks later. The first thing to do then is cry. Having done that, you’ll want to start thinking about penning a reply to the Department of Transport (DoT) requesting that your case be reviewed.

In your letter, Phoebe says, you should focus on the exceptional circumstances surrounding your case. Unless you really did tap on and are willing to prove it in court, there’s no point in denying it. Instead, make it clear that while you didn’t tap on, it was a one-time thing due to events outside your control. For example, you might have left your wallet at home, or been late for an important appointment and not had time to top up your myki. If you’re doing this, you might want to chat to UMSU Legal about the best way to phrase your letter.

The DoT can then choose to withdraw the notice, give an official warning or reject your request. If it’s rejected, you can request for the letter to be reviewed again. And if that doesn’t work, it’s time to take the case to the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court.

Here you have two options. You can plead guilty, and self-represent at court with the same defence: that you might have done it, but there were exceptional circumstances and it won’t happen again, you know the drill. If you’re also experiencing financial instability, you’ve got a decent chance of the charges being dropped.

If you genuinely believe that you’ve been wrongly fined, you can plead not guilty. This will be a longer process and probably require proper legal representation (once again, talk to UMSU Legal). Evidence for the case is provided in the form of CCTV camera footage, as well as the history of myki machines to see if they’ve made reoccurring errors before.

If all goes well, you’ll emerge at the end of the process with your fine dropped and a newfound appreciation for our wonderful public transport system (or not). But just a last warning: disputing a myki fine only works the first time round. If you get fined again, maybe consider getting a bike or something.

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