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It is an offence under section 5B of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 to perform a burnout in a motor vehicle on a road or road related area, unless it is done with the written approval from the government for the purposes of a race, attempt or trial.

The definition of a burnout for the purposes of this section is determined by the type of motor vehicle being driven.

  • On a motorbike: if the vehicle is operated in a way to cause the motorbike to undergo a sustained loss of traction by the driving wheel.
  • On any other motor vehicle: if the vehicle is operated in a way that causes a sustained loss of traction by one or more of the driving wheels.

Penalties for burnouts

The maximum penalty if you are convicted under this section will depend on the particulars of the offence. If a burnout has occurred because you have placed a prohibited substance on the surface of the road or road related area, or near one of the vehicle’s tyres, the maximum fine is 30 penalty units ($4800). If no prohibited substance was involved, the maximum fine is 20 penalty units ($3200).

In either case, if this is a first offence, the automatic period of disqualification is three months. If this is a repeat offence, the automatic period of disqualification is 12 months but  the court has the discretion to impose a longer ban.

For the purposes of this section, a prohibited substance is defined as:

  1. Petrol, oil, diesel fuel or any other flammable liquid;
  2. Any other substance that increases the risk of death, injury or damage to property (including damage to the surface of any road or to any prescribed traffic control device)  from the burnout.


It is a defence for an offence under this section if the driver shows that although there was a technical contravention of this section (that is, that a burnout occurred), the motor vehicle was not deliberately operated to cause that effect to occur. Intent is always a difficult element to prove. If you have been charged with an offence under this section, it is important that you receive competent legal advice as soon as possible.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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