Hoon Driving Offences and Vehicle Impoundment
Some driving offences can result in your vehicle being impounded, immobilised or forfeited.
These offences are known colloquially as ‘hoon’ driving offences and are governed by Part 6A of the Road Safety Act.
Tier One And Tier Two Offences
Hoon driving offences are divided into two levels of offences. Tier one offences are considered more serious than tier two offences. Any penalty imposed by the Court will depend on whether you have committed a tier one or tier two offence.
Tier one offences include:
- Repeat drink driving with blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 or more;
- Repeat drug driving;
- Repeat driving while disqualified or unlicensed;
- Driving at 70 km/h or more above the speed limit;
- Driving at 170 km/h in a 110 km/h zone.
Tier two offences include:
- Any drinking driving offence where the blood alcohol concentration is 0.10 or more (including a first offence);
- Driving between 45 – 70 km/h over the speed limit;
- Driving between 145 – 170 km/h in a 110 km/h zone;
- Driving with too many people in your vehicle;
- Driving in or organising a speed race;
- Dangerous driving;
- Disobeying a police direction to stop;
- Deliberately causing your vehicle to skid, smoke or make excessive noise (e.g. ‘wheelies’, ‘donuts’ or ‘burnouts’).
Penalties For Committing A Hoon Driving Offence
In addition to the usual penalties for traffic offences (fines, demerit points, licence suspension or cancellation and gaol), your vehicle may be impounded or immobilised.
The police have a discretion to immobilise or impound your vehicle if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that it is being or has been used to commit a tier one or tier two offence.
Impoundment Or Immobilisation
Impoundment or immobilisation means that your car is locked at a secure facility for a period of time. The police may impound or immobilise the vehicle within 48 hours of the time they believe the offence to have occurred, regardless of whether the driver is the registered owner.
If the police do not act within 48 hours, they can still impound or immobilise the vehicle if they serve a Surrender Notice on the registered owner. The Surrender Notice must be served within 10 days of the alleged offence, unless the offence was picked up on a speed camera.
The length of the impoundment depends on the offence. All ‘hoon’ offenders can have their vehicle impounded or immobilised for at least 30 days. You will be required to pay the cost of towing and storage of the vehicle before you will be able to get it back.
The law surrounding the impoundment or immobilising of vehicles is complex. If your vehicle has been impounded or immobilised, you should seek legal advice to discuss your options for getting your vehicle back.
The Court can make an order that your vehicle be forfeited and sold if you are found guilty of:
- Two first tier offences within a 6 year period; or
- Three hoon driving offences within the last 6 years.
It is an offence to fail to surrender your motor vehicle under a Forfeiture Order, punishable by a fine of up to $9,000. The law surrounding vehicle forfeiture can be complex and quite technical. If the police have indicated to you that they will be seeking a Forfeiture Order for your vehicle, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Can I Appeal An Impoundment Notice?
If your vehicle has been impounded or immobilised, you have the right to appeal on the basis that it will cause you, or any other person, exceptional hardship.
What Is The Safe Driving Program?
If you have been found guilty of a hoon driving offence and your vehicle has been impounded, immobilised or forfeited, the Court must make an order that you complete the Safe Driving Program (unless you have already completed it for a previous traffic offence).
If you fail to complete a Court ordered Safe Driving Program, your licence will be suspended until you have completed the program.
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.