In Western Australia, when a person is unable or refuses to pay a fine issued by the courts, further penalties can be applied, such as suspension of driver’s licences, additional enforcement costs, and community service/work and development orders. If the person fails to pay or clear a fine either by means of a payment plan or through completing a work and development order (WDO) they may be sent to prison by means of a warrant of commitment issued by the courts.
Amendment bills to the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Act 1994, the Sentencing Act 1995 and the Sentencing Administration Act 2003 were first introduced to Parliament in 2006 and came into effect on 21 March 2008. The objectives of the amendments were to improve the management of fines enforcement in Western Australia, with the intention to create a fairer and more efficient fines administration system. Prior to these amendments, people who were served a warrant of commitment for failing to pay their fines and/or breaching a WDO were required to ‘cut out’ their fines cumulatively. The 2008 amendment allowed people to serve multiple sentences for fine default concurrently, effectively only serving the number of days equivalent to their largest fine. While fines can now be ‘cut out’ by serving prison time concurrently, community work for fines must be worked off cumulatively (that is at $250 per day). This has created a situation where the length of imprisonment is less than the days required to serve a WDO.