Tough measures are in place to combat anti-social ‘car hoon’ behaviour. The laws make it clear for those irresponsible drivers that treat NSW roads as their own personal race track that this type of selfish and dangerous behaviour will not be tolerated.
Road Transport (General) Amendment (Vehicle Sanctions) Act 2012
From 1 July 2012, changes are being made to the Vehicle Sanctions Scheme that Police apply at the roadside for 'hoon' type behaviour. The changes are as follows:
The existing offences of street racing and aggravated burnout continue to apply, however the offences of 'engaging in a Police pursuit' and 'speeding by more than 45km/h' will be included.
Number plate confiscation
Where a driver commits one of the offences above and is the registered operator of the offending vehicle, Police may confiscate the number plates at the roadside as an alternative to the long-standing practice of impounding the vehicle. Vehicle impoundment or plate confiscation will be for a fixed three-month period. A person may apply to the local court for an order for the early release of confiscated plates or an impounded vehicle.
The changes also see the introduction of tough new penalties for those who use a vehicle that has had its number plates confiscated. This includes driving a vehicle with no plates or false plates. Heavy penalties also apply to altering, tampering with or replicating a production notice sticker which Police will attach to a vehicle when number plates are removed.
Court imposed penalties
The maximum penalties for a person who is convicted of vehicle or plate confiscation offences are as follows:
- A person convicted of an offence of operating a motor vehicle on a road during a plate confiscation period faces a maximum court imposed fine of $3,300 and vehicle forfeiture.
- A person convicted of an offence or removing, tampering with or modifying a number plate confiscation notice faces a maximum court imposed fine of $3,300 and vehicle forfeiture.
Further offences relating to vehicle and number plate confiscation are prescribed under section 218F of the Road Transport (General) Act 2005.
The maximum penalty for a person who is convicted of a street racing or 'hoon' offence are as follows:
- The maximum court imposed fine for an aggravated burnout offence is $3,300 for a first offence and $3,300 and/or 9 months imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence. A 12-month automatic period of disqualification also applies following conviction for the offence.
- The maximum court imposed fine for a street racing offence is $3,300 for a first offence and $3,300 and/or 9 months imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence. A 12-month automatic period of disqualification applies to those convicted of this offence.
- The maximum court imposed fine for an offence of speeding by more than 45km/h is $2,530 for the driver of a light vehicle and $3,740 for the driver of a heavy vehicle. A six-month automatic period of disqualification applies to those convicted of the offence.
- The maximum penalty for a police pursuit offence is 3 years imprisonment and a 3-year automatic period of disqualification for a first offence, and 5 years imprisonment and a 5-year automatic period of disqualification for a second or subsequent offence.
Street racing and burnout offences are prescribed under sections 40 and 41 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999. Police pursuit offences are prescribed under section 51 of the Crimes Act 1900, and speeding by more than 45km/h in Rule 20 of the Road Rules 2008.
Immediate licence suspension
Police can also immediately suspend a driver’s licence at the roadside following a person being charged with a street racing or aggravated burnout offence. The suspension will remain in place until the charge is determined by a court.
The aggravated burnout offence can apply to persons other than the driver. For example, a hoon driver’s mate who willingly participates in, urges others to participate in, photographs or films to promote or organise hoon activity can also be charged with the offence and faces the same penalties.
Motor vehicle sanctions
Under the current laws, NSW Police have the power to confiscate the car of a driver who commits a street racing or aggravated burnout offence. From 1 July 2012, the offences of engaging in a police pursuit and speeding by more than 45km/h will be included. Police will also have the additional options to confiscate a vehicle's number plates, or give the driver or registered operator of the vehicle a notice requiring that the vehicle be produced at a specified place within 10 days. If the vehicle is not produced a court imposed penalty of $3,300 can apply, and Roads and Maritime Services may suspend the vehicle’s registration for a period of 3 months.
Where the driver is also the registered operator of the vehicle
In cases where the driver is the registered operator, the vehicle may be impounded or the plates confiscated for a period of 3 months for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, the vehicle may be forfeited to the Crown and may be sold or released to Roads and Maritime Services for crash testing (see below for more about crash testing).
Where the driver is not the registered operator of the vehicle
In cases where the driver is not the registered operator, Roads and Maritime Services may issue a suspension warning notice to the registered operator warning that if the same vehicle is used in a second offence, the registration of the vehicle may be suspended for a period of 3 months.
If a second or subsequent offence is committed, the registration of the vehicle may be suspended for a period of 3 months.
It is not intended that vehicle owners be penalised for the driving offence committed, but rather for failing to adequately supervise use of their vehicle on repeated occasions.
Crash testing by Roads and Maritime Services
Current laws already provide that the cars of repeat offenders may be forfeited to the Crown. Usually, those vehicles are sold and the money used to recover storage and collection costs. The new laws allow certain forfeited vehicles to be released to Roads and Maritime Services for crash testing.
Roads and Maritime Services will use the unique tests to investigate the potential effects of certain modifications on overall crashworthiness and the wrecks of these vehicles will be displayed at education days for young drivers, or at other Roads and Maritime Services presentations.