Not all debts can be converted into imprisonment: SPER

JAIL time is always a last resort for anyone who has outstanding fines, a spokeswoman for the State Penalties Enforcement Registry says.

The spokeswoman was responding to yesterday's Chronicle report about an unemployed drug addict who asked to do jail time instead of paying the $31,000 he owes in fines for criminal and traffic offences.

"SPER will only order an arrest warrant when the registrar is satisfied that the amount owed by a debtor cannot be paid in any other way allowed under the State Penalties Enforcement Act," she said.

"Collection methods include payment plans, unpaid community service or the seizure and sale of property."

Unlicensed driver Daniel Lucas Baumgart, 31, told Hervey Bay Magistrates Court he wanted to trade in his massive debt for time in custody.

He said he had been a drug addict from a young age and as a result had never held a job.

"Should a person approach SPER with a request to serve default imprisonment, SPER would undertake an assessment of the request to determine what other options are available and what debts the person has with SPER, as not all debts can be converted into imprisonment," the spokeswoman said.

"A person who states they cannot afford to pay their SPER debts may be eligible to apply for unpaid community service or a reduced payment arrangement, however strict conditions apply."