CHOICE membership

Littering - guilty until proven innocent

Most people are unaware that a littering offence immediately makes you guilty until you prove your innocence. If someone reports you for littering the EPA will issue a fine based purely on that person reporting that they saw you litter.

They just go online, or download a form or use an app to send in your car registration. They only have to be prepared to attend court. Fill out the form with the details, and the EPA sends you and infringement notice. You have to ask for a review of the incident, or fill out a statuary declaration saying it wasn’t you and you don’t know who did it,or go to court to prove your innocence.

Here is a link from the Herald Sun on someone who was falsely accused:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/east/toni-withiel-questions-dob-in-a-litterer-scheme-after-she-says-she-was-wrongly-fined-for-littering/story-fngnvlxu-1226565976060?nk=346e49de8b791f8b2363540d895100af-1470025741

In this article EPA spokeswoman Tanya O’Shea said fined motorists needed to prove their innocence to the EPA - not the EPA to prove their guilt. She then issues a clarification.

Ms O’Shea said she had been misquoted.

She said: “Under law drivers of motor vehicles have to take responsibility for litter deposited from their vehicles, however a statutory declaration can be provided in instances when the infringement notice is incorrect.” She doesn’t say if this will prove your innocence.

Here is link to a forum where somenone is advocating using the system to “fine someone you don’t like” http://forums.silverstackers.com/topic-49520-how-to-fine-someone-you-dont-like-littering-victoria-500-fine.html.

Why would the person take the risk, he explains, “Did they cut you off in traffic? Did they honk at you? Is it your neighbour you don’t like?” and “Most people accused are too scared of having to front court to dispute it or are too busy living their lives so just pay it rather than “buck the system”. You can probably even put down a fake name and address as the “witness” as you will only need to be verified if the case actually proceeds to court, but the fine will still be issued.”

So much for innocent until proven guilty. Why don’t they have to fill in a statutory declaration, with it’s penalties for making a false statement. Is he right, do the EPA check that the the witness details are real only when going to court and not before issuing the infringement notice?

How do I know all this, someone did this to me recently and I am waiting to hear back if my statutory declaration will clear my name or whether I have to go to court.

3 Likes

Sorry to hear about your troubles and thanks for sharing this with the Community @anwitham. We’re keen to hear the outcome, so please keep us updated.

Just an update. It’s past the date I should have paid the fine buy and I have heard nothing.

This does not mean they have dropped the case. They may have to contact the “witness” and see if they will go to court to testify. I’m still waiting to hear from them either way, I’ll post more information when I find out.

1 Like

What I find quite ironic is that I had a disgruntled twenty - something driver hurl a near full Mt. Franklin water bottle at my car because I was going too slow (I was 500m from my turn off point in the right lane). The water bottle was thrown as she barely managed to get into the left lane, then pace me as she rolled down her window to simultaneously utter profanities. My left side view mirror was damaged and I noted her licence plate number as she turned left after only going to the same street as mine (I was going right). I called the police on my hands free and they said they’d be in touch again soon. That incident was over 5 weeks ago. I even went back to retrieve the bottle!
I now believe that I should have simply reported her for littering as it would have been successful! I still have her bottle (fingerprints intact). Can I still report her for littering? :slightly_frowning_face:

Well the EPA site says, Report litter thrown from a vehicle by recording the registration, make, colour, model, location, date and time, plus a description of the litter and person.

Here is the link, http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/get-involved/report-litter/what-you-can-do. But you have to be prepared to be a witness if it goes to court.

@anwitham.

Usually (namely in Queensland and is called natural justice), if you provide evidence stating that the infringement was not your to receive before the date that the fine was to be paid, it usually means that the compliance process has been paused until a determination of the information provided is completed. It does not mean that you have succeeded in avoiding the infringement.

The relevant agency should contact you with a decision at some time in the future.

It may be worth following up the EPA to ensure that they received your statutory declaration and other relevant information (if it applies). Contact details should be on the infringement. Hopefully they did receive it. At the same time during the contact, ask if a decision has been made or when it is likely to be made.

They have received the stat dec and its under review, I will receive a letter with the results of the outcome of the review in 4 to 6 weeks.

1 Like

AAHHH, makes me soooo Proud to be Australian … Guilty until proven Innocent! What Lame Moron makes these Laws?

Well I finally received a letter form the EPA to say they have withdrawn the infringement notice. I don’t know if they contacted the person who make the complaint and he refused to go to court or the name and address given were false. It’s only taken them two months to reply.

1 Like

Thanks for letting us know @anwitham

And another case of the fearless Victorian EPA riding roughshod over residents.

Only in Victoria where they are incapable of running a recycling scheme and might have a container deposit scheme operational in a mere 3 years time.

image