Ask LH: Should I Contest A Fine For Driving An Unregistered Vehicle?

Ask LH: Should I Contest A Fine For Driving An Unregistered Vehicle?

Hi Lifehacker, Do you think I should contest a fine for driving an unregistered vehicle? I recently moved into a new house and never received a renewal notice (we don’t have the sticker system in South Australia). I paid my rego once I realised, but by then a fine for $404 for driving an unregistered vehicle had already been imposed.

I rang to question the fine and they told me both the renewal and reminder notices are courtesy notices only and it is my responsibility to keep track of the rego expiry date. Have I got any chance of challenging this? And how can I reasonably keep track of my rego without the stickers or renewal notice? Thanks, Registered Offender

Old car picture from Shutterstock

Dear RO,

I don’t fancy your chances here. As the authority that issued the notice pointed out, it is solely the driver’s responsibility to maintain their vehicle licence. You’re also supposed to update your vehicle registration and licence details within 14 days of changing your address. Claiming that you never received a reminder in the post isn’t a valid excuse — it’s basically the driving equivalent of saying the dog ate your homework.

When you consider the potential seriousness of the offence, a $404 fine actually isn’t too bad. Imagine if you’d caused an accident while driving your unregistered car — your compulsory third party insurance would have been invalid, which means you’d be personally liable for any injuries caused. Instead of grumbling about the fine, you should be thanking your lucky stars.

As to how to keep track of when your rego is due, the simplest solution is to set up a reminder on Google Calendar. You can do this directly from the Google Search Bar. You can also check your registration expiry date via the SA Government’s EzyReg mobile app or by calling 1300 133 776.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • It sucks sooooo badly, but at the end of the day, we need to be responsible for chasing it up (I got done middle of last year, very hectic stage of my life and it completely slipped my mind AND I didn’t receive a reminder about it).

    Just don’t get caught driving on a Sunday afternoon with an unregistered vehicle, no way of getting in touch with the RTA means you can’t drive your car!

    Not sure if it is difference with Services NSW now?

  • pay it, but make them take you to court for the money… might aswell get your moneys worth. Anyone who reply’s to this saying the fine increases when you go to court is wrong and just assumes that is true

    • If the RO cant remember to pay his rego, should he/she be on the road? Why do so many people believe that it is someone else’s fault they screwed up or made a mistake.

      And taking a matter to court even though you know you are wrong is just wasting taxes. Taxes I would rather see spent on road repairs. Court staff are paid by the Govt

      • Lifehacker is a bastion of letters which all read, “Hi LH… I did something fucking stupid with my car and want to escape the consequences.”

      • not actually true, taxes dont really work like that. hopefully your just a kid and its fair enough that you dont know. taxes are going towards courts regardless of whether people use the courts or not

    • I’m not sure I agree. The ‘on the spot’ fine is generally cheaper than the court imposed penalty, plus you’ll get a victims of crime levy slapped on top. Much cheaper to pay the notice once you believe that this is the right course of action.

    • The fine amount doesn’t increase but if you are found guilty you will be required to pay court costs in addition to the fine.

    • Definitely! Go to court and fill up the courts time with an arbitrary case completely the fault of the car owner that can be resolved by simply taking responsibility and paying the bloody registration on time like the rest of the civilised car driving world, thus taking up the time of potentially something more important. Why not clog up the courts, be part of the problem! Not part of the solution!

      Seriously, go to court? The hell is wrong with you?

      • No, screw it. He can go to court, lose, have to pay the fine anyway PLUS court costs.

        Seems appropriate.

    • “Get your money’s worth” by clogging up the courts and wasting other taxpayers money as well because the OP stuffed up? #halfwitalert

    • They can claim costs if they want. So it can increase. In QLD last year a guy got a $100 parkng ticket. Took it to court claiming sign was blocked by trees. Judge partially took his side, reducing fine to $50. But Queensland Transport applied for costs, and the guy had to pay $1100 in court costs. He appealed to district court, lost, and had to pay another $1100 in court costs. So a $100 fine turned into $2250

      • that sucks for QLD dude, you just described my exact history in VIC where judge sided with me and I won, perhaps that is the difference. In that he took a smaller fine therefore accepting gilt where as I was not and thus how could they make me pay for fees.

  • I reckon they can only ping you for driving an unregistered car if they catch you actually driving an unregistered car. Owning an unregistered car isn’t an offence, is it?

    • Owning an unregistered vehicle and driving it is fine, as long as you don’t drive it on public roads. He would most likely have been caught by one of the automated cameras which scans licence plates as you drive past.

    • There are no problems with owning unregistered cars, plenty of people have farm vehicles, paddock bashers and track/race cars, you just can’t take them out on the road.
      If you forget to pay your rego, there is no late fee as far as I’m aware, but you can’t take your car on the road until the rego is payed. In Vic if you are more than 2-3 months late you will need to get the car road-worthied again and re-register it, not sure on the rules in other states.

  • I just setup monthly direct debit from my credit card with mine (South Aust). No more expensive than the previous 3 month manual payments. Get a SMS a day or so before and another one when it’s processed. Too easy.

    $404 seems quite good. A mate of mine got nearly $1,000 when he just got a new car and didn’t check the expiry. Was picked up by a fixed camera on the way to Clare

  • I contested the fine in the same circumstances and I got the fine dropped.

    I had done everything right, Contacted Vic roads with my new address 2 days after I moved and they sent my rego to my old address.
    As I had done everything right it was clearly Vic-roads fault and they should have sent one to my new address not my old one.

  • If only there was some sort of sticker that you can slap on a window, which showed the rego expiry date…

    • Those stickers don’t exist in NSW, QLD, and possibly other states. QLD stopped stickers September last year. NSW did a few years ago.

  • The same thing has just happened to me, however I didn’t realise for 4 months.
    I have 18 fines, $14,500 in total.
    I wish I was a different person.

  • We’re new to Australia. We bought a car which included CTP & rego so we just had to take out fully comp. A year later; we renewed our fully comp & paid CTP. We were not aware that we also had to pay rego. Had thought that was a once off fee for when the car was first registered which is the system in our home country.
    Got pulled by the Police today who asked it the car was insured & registered to which I replied that it was. He then told me that it was not registered & was 14 days beyond the rego renewal date. (17 days in total). We immediately paid the rego but were told that we are being fined approx. $1300 for no rego or insurance. I said the we paid everything that we were requested to (CTP in the post & compulsory was an online renewal) CTP was paid on time & according to our insurer is still valid. Do we have a case to contest the fine for being uninsured? Can’t understand how we can be uninsured after paying out a total of $1400+ dollars in CTP & fully comp. Just smacks of unfairness. Would we get a fair hearing in court or are we wasting our time?

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