FINED OUT Inner City Legal Centre Redfern Legal Centre Legal Aid New South Wales
A practical guide for people having problems with fines
A community legal education resource by Inner City Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre and Legal Aid NSW. 3RD EDITION

PART 2  Penalty notices


2.4  Applying for an internal review

You can request a review of a penalty notice up until the due date for payment on the original penalty reminder notice. 

You can make a request for review to the SDRO if:

  • the penalty notice was unlawfully issued;
  • there is an issue of mistaken identity;
  • there are exceptional circumstances relating to the issuing of the fine that need to be considered (see Part 2.4.1);
  • the person who was fined has an intellectual disability, mental illness, cognitive impairment or is homeless; and
    – did not understand that their conduct constituted an offence; or
    – was unable to control their conduct. 
  • an official caution should have been given instead of a penalty notice; or
  • any other grounds prescribed by the regulation.

If the SDRO has reason to suspect that the penalty notice should be withdrawn they can request that a review be conducted by the issuing agency.

An agency does not have to conduct an internal review if it notifies you in writing, within 10 days of receiving the application, that it has decided not to conduct a review and provides reasons for the decision.

A reviewing agency can request additional information from you. You then have 14 days to provide this information. If the information is not provided within that time, the review may be conducted without it. 

A reviewing agency has to notify you in writing of the outcome of the review within 42 days of receipt of the application, or within 56 days if additional information is requested. 

Following a review, the issuing agency must withdraw a penalty notice if any of the above grounds are established. A reviewing agency also has discretion to withdraw a penalty notice on any other ground or give an official caution if appropriate given the circumstances of the offence. 

An internal review will also be initiated if you apply for an annulment (see Part 5.6: Applying for an annulment).

If you elect to go to court after applying for a review, the review will be terminated.

Please note that there are strict deadlines for choosing to have a court deal with a fine. Time to court elect may run out while a review is being conducted (see Part 2.5). Additional time to make a court election will not be given if a review is unsuccessful. If you intend to apply for a review you should do so as soon as possible after receiving the penalty notice. If you are unsure about whether to apply for a review or elect to go to court, get some legal advice.  See Useful contacts.

For further information on how to apply for an internal review, refer to the SDRO Review Guidelines (


An authorised officer may in certain circumstances issue a caution instead of a penalty notice. Circumstances that might be taken into account include:

  • the offence involved no risk to public safety, damage to property or financial loss, or had no significant impact on other members of the public;
  • the person is homeless;
  • the person has a mental illness or intellectual disability;
  • the person is a child (under 18);
  • the person has a special infirmity or is in very poor physical health;
  • the offending behaviour is at the lower end of the seriousness scale for that offence;
  • the person is cooperative and/or complies with a request to stop the offending conduct; and
  • it is otherwise reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, to give the person a caution.

For further information on cautions, view the SDRO caution guidelines at: (

2.4.1  Telling the SDRO about special or extenuating circumstances

If you believe there are special circumstances in your case, or you want to ask for leniency, you can fill out a Request Review of Penalty Notice form and send it to the SDRO. You have to add any supporting documents if you are asking to have the penalty notice withdrawn. The form is on the SDRO website (

The SDRO Review Guidelines explain what evidence you need to provide when you ask for this type of review: (

The SDRO might do this kind of review if:

  • it was a medical emergency (such as taking someone who needs urgent medical attention to a hospital);
  • there was a mechanical breakdown (if your car was parked in a no parking zone, for instance); or
  • you’ve had a good driving record for the last 10 years.

The SDRO will only consider requests for review if they receive them before the due date for payment of the penalty notice. Only one review will be conducted.

The SDRO will not consider applications for leniency for some more serious offences, such as:

  • excessive speeding (speeding over 30km/h over the limit);
  • using a mobile phone while driving;
  • ignoring RailCorp safety notices; and
  • unauthorised use of mobility parking permits.

If the SDRO does not withdraw the penalty notice, they will tell you by a letter and will also send you a new penalty reminder notice. Further time will be given to pay the fine.

For more information, see this NSW Ombudsman Fact sheet: (

2.4.2.  You are not the driver or owner of the vehicle involved

If you own the vehicle involved but were not driving it (or in control of it) at the time of the offence you can fill out a statutory declaration that says who was driving the vehicle, or who owns it, and give it to the SDRO.

There is a statutory declaration form on the back of the penalty reminder notice. You can also buy them at newsagents or download them from the SDRO website. A statutory declaration must be witnessed by a solicitor or a Justice of the Peace.

When you give the statutory declaration to the SDRO the penalty notice should be withdrawn.

You have to make sure the SDRO gets the statutory declaration before the due date for payment of the penalty reminder notice.

It is a criminal offence to provide false or misleading information on a statutory declaration. You can be fined up to $11,000 or given up to 7 years in gaol.

You can’t use this statutory declaration process if you were given an ‘on-the-spot’ fine by a police officer, a rail transit officer or another authorised government officer.

Note: If you have sold or given away a vehicle and have not yet updated your records at the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), and you get a penalty notice for an offence involving that vehicle, you should update your records at the RTA immediately (see below: Who and how to tell about a change of address). When you sell or give away a vehicle, make sure you give the person who is getting the vehicle a completed application form for transfer of registration. You can use the transfer form on the reverse side of your registration papers. The new owner must lodge this form, along with stamp duty and the transfer fee, with the RTA within 14 days of getting the vehicle. You should retain the notice of disposal on the reverse side of the registration papers, and submit this to the RTA.

Who and how to tell about a change of address

As well as telling your phone, gas and electricity supplier, plus your friends and family and anyone else who sends you bills or money, you need to let these organisations know when you move house:

Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA)

Fill in the application online at:
Tel: 132 213
Visit a motor registry office.

Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and State Electoral Office (SEO)

Once you have lived at a new address for 28 days, fill in an electoral enrolment form and send it to your Divisional AEC office or scan it and email it to You can get the forms and prepaid envelopes from an AEC office, the SEO and post offices, or from your state or federal MP’s office, or from:

AEC Tel: 132 326
SEO Tel: 135 736

And because we all forget to tell someone, you can also do this:

Australia Post

Fill in and lodge an Application to Redirect Mail at any Australia Post outlet. You can download the form at:

Tel: 131 318


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