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'Hoon' Offences

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

Andrew Tiedt

Confiscation of number plates, impounding & forfeiture of vehicles

The law empowers Police to take action against the vehicles of drivers who are detected committing certain serious traffic offences. From 1 July 2012 the scope of these punishments has been increased to cover a wider range of offences.

Many drivers who are caught for such offences are now losing their cars on top of paying fines and losing their licence.





Confiscation of number plates

If the registered operator of a vehicle is detected committing a sanctionable offence, the Police may:

  • Remove and confiscate the number plates of the vehicle
  • Give the operator of the vehicle a notice requiring them to remove and produce the number plates to the Police within a specified time (which must be no more than 5 business days).

The plates are confiscated for a period of 3 months.

It is an offence to fail to produce the number plates, or to drive the vehicle during the confiscation period.

Detention and impounding of vehicles

If the registered operator of a vehicle is detected committing a sanctionable offence, the Police may:

  • Seize and take charge of the vehicle
  • Give a notice to the operator requiring them to produce the vehicle to the Police within a specified time (which must be no more than 5 business days).

The Police must impound a seized vehicle for 3 months.

It is an offence not to produce the vehicle to the Police.

Forfeiture of vehicles

A vehicle is automatically forfeited to the Crown upon a finding of guilt by the Court if:

  • The registered operator is commits a second or subsequent offence within 5 years
  • The vehicle is used in connection with certain offences relating to:
    • Using a vehicle that has confiscated number plates.
    • Making a false statement in an attempt to have their number plates or impounded vehicle released

The forfeited vehicle will be sold by the Police or used for crash testing.

In some cases, the Court that finds the person guilty of the offence can order that the forfeiture of the vehicle be replaced by an impounding or confiscation of number plates. The Court must be satisfied that the forfeiture would cause extreme hardship to the operator or any other person.

What are "sanctionable offences"

The punishments discussed in this section are imposed if the operator commits a sanctionable offence.

Sanctionable offences are:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by more than 45 kph
  • Street racing, races, attempts on speed records and other speed trial
  • Aggravated loss of traction offences (Burnouts, Donuts, Wheelies)
  • Police pursuits

What Can I do – early release of number plates and impounded vehicles

An application may be made to the Local Court for an early release of an impounded vehicle or confiscated number plate. The Court cannot order that the vehicle or number plates be released within 5 working days of the impounding or confiscation.

The law allows the Court to consider a full range of factors when deciding whether to release the number plates or vehicle early. Specifically, it must take into account:

  • The safety of the public and the public interest in preventing the use of a motor vehicle that the Court considers is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to be used for further sanctionable offences,
  • Any alleged extreme hardship to a person other than the registered operator of the motor vehicle arising from the impoundment of the vehicle or confiscation of the number plates.

Before the vehicle is released to the operator any outstanding fees in respect of the movement, towage and storage of an impounded vehicle or release of number plates must be paid.


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?

Leading Criminal Law NSW 2017 ISO 9001 Legal Best Practice Accredited Specialists Criminal Law Sydney Business Awards Winner 2011