Penalty unit

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Penalty units note in reg 256 of ROAD RULES 2014, New South Wales, Australia.

A penalty unit (PU) is a standard amount of money used to compute penalties for many breaches of law in Australia at both the federal, and state and territory level. Fines are calculated by multiplying the value of a penalty unit by the number of units prescribed for the offence. For example, if a crime was committed in New South Wales worth 100 units, the fine would be 100 × $110 = $11,000.

Prior to the introduction of penalty units, fines and other charges were usually prescribed in terms of ordinary money. However, the effects of inflation meant that originally substantial penalties eventually lost their worth. Frequent amendment of the many laws and regulations dealing with pecuniary penalties would be a very time-consuming process. Penalty units provide a quick and simple way to adjust many different fees and charges.


The different jurisdictions that make up Australia each set their own value of a penalty unit. The value as well as the manner and frequency of adjusting that value differ between jurisdictions.

Jurisdiction Penalty unit value Last updated Automatic indexation mechanism
Commonwealth A$275.00[1] July 2023 Every three years on 1 July, based on the All Groups Consumer Price Index, a weighted average of the CPI for all capital cities.[2]
Victoria A$192.31[3] 1 July 2023 Annual on 1 July.[3]
New South Wales A$110.00[4] 8 December 1999 None. As of 26 September 2019, the value remains unchanged from the original Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.[5]
Queensland A$154.80[6] 1 July 2023 Annual on 1 July.[6]
Tasmania A$181.00[7][needs update] 1 July 2022 Annual on 1 July, based on CPI.[7]
Northern Territory A$162.00[8][needs update] 1 July 2022 Annual on 1 July, based on CPI for Darwin.[8]
Australian Capital Territory A$160.00 (individual)[9] 8 November 2018 Every four years.[9]
A$810.00 (companies)[9]
Western Australia Various Penalty units are set for different categories of legislation.[10] Traffic offences generally incur a penalty unit of A$50.[11]
South Australia Not applicable South Australia does not have a system of penalty units.[10] Instead, legislation either lists specific fine amounts or maximum "divisional penalties" which form a standard scale.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra. "Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2022". Retrieved 15 July 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), section 4AA (Penalty units)". Federal Register of Legislation (Australia). 28 April 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Penalty units | Victoria Legal Aid". Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 No 92, section 17 (Penalty units)". NSW Legislation. 26 September 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 No 92, section 17 (Penalty units)". NSW Legislation. 8 December 1999. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Sentencing fines and penalties for offences". Queensland Government. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  7. ^ a b "Value of Indexed Amounts in Legislation". Department of Justice (Tasmania). Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Penalty units". Department of the Attorney-General and Justice (Northern Territory). 5 July 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  9. ^ a b c Legislation Act 2001 (ACT) s 133
  10. ^ a b McKay, Daniel (28 March 2017). "Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Driving offences (speeding, alcohol and traffic)". Department of Transport (Western Australia). 13 June 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Acts Interpretation Act 1915, section 28A (Standard scales for penalties and expiation fees)" (PDF). South Australian Legislation. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Divisional penalties and fees". Attorney-General's Department (South Australia). Retrieved 11 July 2020.