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What is an expiable offence?
Many minor offences are dealt with by way of expiation notice. These offences are called expiable offences.
An expiable offence is one where the law allows a particular authority (such as a police officer in traffic matters) to issue you with an expiation notice themselves rather than a summons for you to attend court for prosecution. However, even where an expiation notice may be issued for a particular offence, the authority has the discretion to choose whether to do so or issue you with a summons.
See Expiation of Offences Act 1996 (SA) s 5.
What is an expiation notice?
An expiation notice alleges that you committed an offence and sets out an expiation fee, which you can pay to expiate the offence rather than being prosecuted.
Expiation fees can range from below $50 to several hundred dollars.
A single expiation notice can relate to up to three alleged offences.
See Expiation of Offences Act 1996 (SA) ss 6 and 15.
Expiation notices can be provided electronically under the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (SA) . Generally a person is taken to have consented to having them sent electronically, but the authority issuing the notice must first ascertain whether the person will be able to access, download and (if require) print the information before doing so [ss 8 - 10].
Who can issue an expiation notice?
Police officers, officers and employees of councils and many other statutory authorities may issue you with an expiation notice.
They may hand it to you personally (such as where a police officer alleges to have detected an offence while on duty), post it to you (for camera offences such as disobeying a red light or speeding) or attach it to your vehicle (parking offences).
See Expiation of Offences Act 1996 (SA) ss 5(1)(j) and 5(3).
What are the requirements of an expiation notice?
An expiation notice must be in a particular format which is set out in regulations, it must specify to which authority you should pay the expiation fee and that you have 28 days within which to pay the fee (from and including the date of the expiation notice).
An expiation notice must be issued to you within six months of the date of the alleged offence and before the commencement of any prosecution against you for the alleged offence. However, it must be accompanied by another notice in a particular format (set out in the regulations) through which you can elect (choose) to be prosecuted.
See Expiation of Offences Act 1996 (SA) ss 5 and 6.
What if the expiation notice does not meet these requirements?
If an expiation notice is defective and this is brought to the authority’s attention, the authority may withdraw the expiation notice. Depending on the nature of the defect, the authority may be able to correct it and re-issue the expiation notice to you.
See Expiation of Offences Act 1996 (SA) s 16(1)(ac).
I have been issued with an expiation notice. What are my options?
If you have been issued with an expiation notice, you have several options open to you but you must act within the time for payment of the expiation fee otherwise these options will lapse. Your options are as follows:
- Expiate the offence by paying the fee within 28 days
- Apply to the issuing authority for review of the expiation notice (for more information, see 'Grounds for withdrawal of expiation notices' and 'Applying for review of expiation notices')
- Elect (choose) to be prosecuted (for more information, see 'Electing to be prosecuted')
- Enter into an arrangement for payment of the amount owed (for more information, see 'Paying expiation fees')
If you do nothing within the time for payment of the expiation fee, the issuing authority will take further steps towards the enforcement of the expiation notice (for more information, see 'Enforcement of expiation notices').
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