Hoon legislation has been in place in Victoria since 2006. Police have the power to impound vehicles, but only in relation to serious offences, and until relatively recently this was seldom enforced.
As of 1 July 2011 the Victorian legislature introduced stringent new anti-hoon laws. Since the introduction of the new laws the Chief Commissioner of Police has put in place a separate impoundment division, to ensure that police charging hoon drivers are also impounding vehicles, and in certain circumstances making applications to the Court to forfeit vehicles to the government.
Section 84C of the Road Safety Act (RSA) defines the offences relevant to the Part of the RSA that covers impoundment, immobilisation and forfeiture of motor vehicles. It includes:
- Unlicenced driving
- Offences against sections 49(1) RSA in relation to drink driving or drug driving.
- Driving dangerously or negligently after being given police direction to stop, causing police to pursue the vehicle.
- A speeding offence where the speed is more than 45km over the speed limit or 145km in a 110km zone;
- Dangerous driving
- Improper use or careless driving involving improper use (e.g. loss of traction);(65A)
- Offences relating to a race or speed trial (68)
- Disobeying police direction to stop motor vehicle;(64A)
- An offence relating to recklessly ignoring a tram or train crossing light; (68B)
- An offence involving a heavy vehicle exceeding the speed limit by 45km or travelling at 145km in a 110km zone but under 170km;
- An offence against rule 291 of the Road Rules in circumstances involving improper use of a motor vehicle (e.g. creating unnecessary noise or smoke);
- An offence against rule 297 of the Road Rules in circumstances involving improper use of a motor vehicle (e.g. fail to have proper control); or
- An offence against rule 265(3), 266(1), 268(4A) or 268(4B) of the Road Rules in circumstances where the number of passengers in the motor vehicle exceeds the number of seats available to them in the motor vehicle.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IF YOU ARE FOUND GUILTY OF HOON OFFENCES?
If found guilty of two relevant offences within six years, even if the police may have already impounded your car, they can make an application to impound your vehicle for a further three months under section 84U of the RSA.
The police can make an application to forfeit the vehicle to the minister if a person is found to have committed 2 or more other relevant offences in a six-year period.
Just because the police make an application does not mean that it will be granted. There are applications that can be made on behalf of defendants, particularly when a 3rd party would be affected by the impoundment or when the defendant and owner of the vehicle have extenuating circumstances subject to certain conditions although these circumstances have now been limited since the decision of Overend v Chief Commissioner of Police (2014) VCS 424 has been overturned by the introduction of section 84Z(3AB) of the Road Safety Act. It is subsequently now very difficult to fight forfeiture orders although there are still some avenues that should always be explored.
The legislation is very complicated and the above information is a brief overview provided to give people affected by the hoon legislation some insight into the complexities involved in challenging this legislation.
Magistrates and prosecutors still routinely make mistakes when dealing with these applications. It is critical when you attend Court that you have a lawyer who can competently communicate the law to a Magistrate.
At Dribbin & Brown Traffic Lawyers we routinely represent clients affected by this legislation. If you have had your car or bike impounded call our office today and speak to one of our lawyers about how we might best approach your matter.