As many as 300,000 NSW drivers will have their licenses revoked this financial year because they cannot afford to pay fines.
News Limited reports over the past three years the number of NSW motorists with suspended licenses has increased by 60 per cent, with 102,000 licenses already revoked in the first four months of the 2013-2014 year, 40 times more than in Victoria. This is due to the NSW Office of State Revenue issuing more fines, and new technologies making the enforcement of those fines more comprehensive and efficient.
“We’ve gotten much better at imposing sanctions,” said the OSR’s executive services manager Melissa Gowen. In May, then Finance Minister Greg Pearce said the enforcement of fines was netting the state government more than $1 million revenue a day.
Gowen also said drivers’ licenses could be suspended in response to failure to pay any state government agency fine, and not just for road-related offences.
However, executive director of Financial Counselling Australia, Fiona Guthrie, expressed concern about those who did not pay fines because they could not afford to, especially the poor and young.
“This is indeed disturbing news and reflects the increasing hardship experienced by people living on low incomes,” Guthrie told News Ltd.
Despite the increased number of fines and penalties, the NRMA advises that fines can be contested, and drivers can either ask for an extension, or seek to have their debt cleared altogether.