Hoon Driving Laws
Legislation introduced into the State of Victoria in 2011 provides the Police with additional powers to either seize, impound or immobilise a vehicle where the driver has committed one of the prescribed ‘hoon driving’ offences. Hoon driving is a general term used to describe road offences relating to drag racing, speeding or the creation of disturbances.
In addition to the penalties prescribed by the relevant offence, if the Police suspect your vehicle has been used to commit one of the prescribed hoon driving offences within the last 48 hours, they may:
- Impound; or
- Immobilise the vehicle.
The Police can also seize, impound or immobilize your vehicle after 48 hours if they serve the registered owner with a formal surrender notice. This notice must be served to the registered owner within 10 days of the alleged offence. If the alleged offence was caught via a speed camera, the Police have up to 42 days to serve the surrender notice.
The following table provides examples of category 1 and category 2 ‘Hoon Driving’ offences.
|Category 1 Offences
|Category 2 Offences
|Second or Subsequent Drink Driving
|Second or Subsequent Drug Driving
|Drag Racing (causing vehicle to lose road traction of vehicle wheels)
|Failing to stop and a Train or Tram crossing
|Second or Subsequent Driving whilst Unlicensed / Disqualified
|Causing unnecessary smoke to come from the vehicle
|Speeding where alleged to be more than 70km/h over prescribed speed limit (or 170km/h in a 110 zone).
|Dangerous Driving where alleged to be between 45km/h and 69km/h over prescribed speed limit (or between 145km/h and 169km/h in a 110 zone).
|Travelling in a part of the vehicle that is not intended for passengers
|Failure to stop vehicle after Police instruction
|Driving a vehicle after Police direction to stop
Note: The above list is not an exhaustive list of all possible ‘hoon driving’ offences.
Possible Penalties for Hoon Driving
The owner of the vehicle is responsible for covering the costs associated with its impounding or immobilisation (for example towing, fitting a steering lock or storage) even if the owner was not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. First time offenders will commonly have their vehicle seized, impounded or immobilised for a period of 30 days.
The Police may apply to the court to have the orders for seizure, impoundment or immobilisation to last for a period of up to 90 days.
The Police can also apply to the Court an extension up to 90 days or for a forfeiture order if you have committed a second Category 1 offence (or 2 other Category 2 offences) or more than 3 of either Category 1 or Category 2 offences within the last 6 years. This means that the Police are permitted to confiscate the vehicle permanently and may make an order to sell the vehicle.
Other penalties can include a fine or imprisonment of up to a maximum 2 years.
Defences and Appeal Rights
If you are the owner of the vehicle, you can appeal on grounds that the impounding, seizure or immobilisation of your vehicle will cause you serious hardship. For example, if you live in a remote area with limited access to transport, the vehicle is used to transport children to school or is essential to your employment. If you have had your licence suspended, you may apply to the Court for release of your vehicle to be available for a family member to use.
You also have a defence if the vehicle was not under your control at the time, such as if it was stolen prior to the alleged time of the offence.
You may also have a defence of reasonable mistake or a factual dispute relating to the charge.
We suggest that you should contact an experienced legal practitioner as soon as possible if you are to be interviewed in relation to this offence so that you can be provided with appropriate advice based on the circumstances relevant to your matter.
 Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s 84F.
 Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s84G(1).
 Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s84H(2)(a)(i).
 Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s 84C.
 Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) ss 84T(1),84U.
 Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s84Z.
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Views expressed in this article are not necessarily endorsed by Leanne Warren and Associates.