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In NSW, actions that are colloquially referred to as a "burnout" constitute offences under the Road Transport Act 2013. There are two offences in that Act that cover actions of this nature. The specific offence you are charged with will determine the maximum penalty available to the Court.


Section 116(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013 states: “A person must not operate a motor vehicle on a road in such a manner as to cause the vehicle to undergo sustained loss of traction by one or more of the driving wheels (or, in the case of a motor cycle, the driving wheel) of the vehicle.

Section 116(2) provides for an aggravated offence, which attracts higher maximum penalties. There are seven (7) ways in which the offence outlined in subsection (1) above can be aggravated. These are:-

  • If you operate a motor vehicle contrary to subsection (1), knowing that any petrol, oil, diesel fuel or other inflammable liquid has been placed on the surface of the road beneath one or more of the tyres;
  • If you do, or omit to do, any other thing that prolongs, sustains, intensifies or increases that loss of traction;
  • If you repeatedly operate a motor vehicle contrary to subsection (1);
  • If you operate a motor vehicle contrary to subsection (1), at a time, or on a road in a place, where you know that there is an appreciable risk that your actions will likely: interfere with the amenity; interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of any person; or, make the place unsafe for any person in the locality;
  • If you willingly participate in any group activity where one or more vehicles are operated contrary to subsection (1);
  • If you organise, promote or urge any person to participate in, or view, any group activity involving the operation of one or more vehicles contrary to subsection (1);
  • If you photograph or film a motor vehicle being operated contrary to subsection (1) or the purpose of organising or promoting the participation of people in a group activity.


The title of section 116 is “conduct associated with road and drag racing and other activities.” The inclusion of this section in to the Road Transport Act is to address “hoon” behaviour, which is regarded very seriously by NSW Parliament and the Courts.

In determining whether your actions have interfered with the amenity or peaceful enjoyment, or made a place unsafe, re point 4 above, the Court must consider all the circumstances of the case. For example:-

  • The nature and use of the road where the alleged offence occurred; and
  • The nature and the use of any premises in that locality.


If you are charged with the unaggravated offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of 10 penalty units.

If you are charged with the more serious offence, the maximum penalty available to the Court will depend on whether this is a first or second and subsequent offence. In the case of a first offence, the maximum penalty is 30 penalty units. In the case of a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of 30 penalty units and/or a period of imprisonment for nine (9) months.

Furthermore, on conviction for an aggravated offence where you are the driver of the vehicle (that is, points 1 to 4, above) a disqualification period of 12 months will be imposed.


There are two defences to this provided under the section.

Under section 116(3), it is a defence, to both the aggravated and unaggravated offences, if you are able to prove that the loss of traction sustained was not done so deliberately.

Under section 116(5), this section does not apply to races, attempts to race or speed trials where approval is given by the Commissioner of Police in writing.

where to next?

In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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