Burnouts in NSW – Road, Drag Racing and Other Activities

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

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...

Burnouts


In New South Wales, “burnouts” constitute an offence under the Road Transport Act 2013. There are two offences in that Act that cover burnouts. The specific offence a person is charged with will determine the maximum penalty available to the court.

The Offences

Section 116(1) of the Act 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 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.

What The Court Is To Have Regard To

In determining whether a person’s actions have interfered with the amenity or peaceful enjoyment, or made a place unsafe, 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.

Penalties for burnouts

If a person is charged with the simple offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of 10 penalty units. If a person is charged with the aggravated 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.

Defence

Under section 116(3), it is a defence, to both the aggravated and simple offence, if the accused is able to prove that the loss of traction was not deliberate.

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