It has just become easier for Victorian commuters to stand up to sometimes bullish, heavy-handed ticket inspectors doling out unjust myki fines.
A group of young lawyers has launched the website mykifines.org to inform commuters of their legal rights.
Backed by high-profile human rights barrister Julian Burnside QC - an outspoken critic of the problem-plagued $1.55 billion myki ticketing system - members of the Young Liberty for Law Reform have set out a few simple questions to help commuters work out whether they should pay the on-the-spot fine or fight the ticket, and what actions they should take to do so.
More than 250,000 fines were handed out to Victorian commuters last financial year alone, contributing more than $44 million in revenue for Public Transport Victoria.
Many commuters claim they have been unfairly slapped with a $75 on-the-spot fine for not having a valid myki, despite having taken every reasonable step to pay their way.
The website asks commuters whether they took "all reasonable steps to obtain a valid ticket" and whether they did so "at all stages of travelling". This can form the main defence to a fine, the site explains.
"For example, did you top up your myki card? Did you touch on? Did you try to use an alternative myki machine to top up, or touch on, if yours wasn't working?," the website asks.
"Be aware that it is not an excuse to say that you had insufficient time to obtain a valid ticket."
The site also directs commuters to the relevant legislation and goes on to explain what qualifies as an "exceptional circumstance" or "special circumstance", which can also be used as a defence.
Exceptional circumstances may include: an emergency; extreme sickness; if you were experiencing family violence; if you experienced a traumatic event that day; or if something happened that was out of your control. Special circumstances can include having a mental disability, mental illness, serious addiction or being homeless.
The law-reform group insists the site is not a guide to fare evading.
The website is designed for people like 26-year-old Sophie from Melbourne, who was fined earlier this year after catching a train from Caulfield to Flinders Street Station.
"When the officers waved me over I was sure I had touched on - I do every morning. I even remember having my wallet in my hand before I reached the station entrance," she said.
Sophie paid a $75 fine on the spot, believing it would too hard to contest.
"If I had known that I had a defence or that I could have requested the CCTV footage from the station to prove that I touched on, I would not have taken the on-the-spot fine," she said.
Authorised officers, who are equipped with portable EFTPOS machines, have been repeatedly criticised for using bullying tactics to pressure commuters into paying on-the-spot penalties, telling them they will face a much heftier $223 fine later and in some cases, even threatening to march them to the nearest police station.
"They don't tell you what your rights are and then they intimidate you with the consequences of not choosing an on-the-spot fine," Sophie said.
However, commuters who pay the fine on the spot waive their right to appeal an infringement notice.
The Department of Transport has previously claimed that "strict liability" rests with the users of the myki system, but data obtained by Fairfax Media last year revealed the vast majority of myki fines contested in court were withdrawn or dismissed by the department.
In a landmark case, commuter Shane Arch successfully challenged his fine in court, claiming he had done everything reasonable to travel on a Sunbury train in 2013 with a valid ticket, but was let down by the problem-plagued myki machines.
On-the-spot $75 penalty fares were introduced by the former Napthine government under a 12-month trial in August 2014.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced a sweeping review of the fare-enforcement regime late last year. She was due to receive the recommendations from the department at the end of last month.