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Research Note - Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015 Part 2 - Hoon Driving

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Executive summary

The Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced on 23 June 2015 to 'create a regime where a driver of a motor vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death must undergo a drug test'.[footnote 1] The Bill also makes changes to the hoon driving regime to allow Victoria Police to recoup costs for the impoundment and immobilisation scheme, to clarify under what circumstances exceptional hardship can be considered by the court (when hearing an impoundment, immobilisation or forfeiture order), and other matters.

This Research Note has been divided into two parts to provide background and resources on two aspects of the Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015. This Research Note (no. 3) will examine the proposed changes to hoon driving, with reference to the legislative framework in selected other jurisdictions. Readers are advised to refer to Research Note no. 2 for details on the drug driving aspects of the Bill, including the proposed changes to drug driving legislation, a history of roadside drug testing, background on the increased prevalence of the drug 'ice' (crystal methylamphetamine) and an examination of road safety legislative frameworks in selected other jurisdictions.

Hoon driving

As noted, the Bill also makes amendments to hoon driving laws. 'Hoon driving' is a term used to describe driving that is dangerous and reckless and puts the public at risk. In his Second Reading Speech, the Minister for Police, the Hon. Wade Noonan stated:

Hoon activities are a major contributor to road trauma, as they are intentional high-risk driving activities. The risk of death and serious injury is significantly increased by this dangerous driving, and innocent spectators or bystanders are placed at risk. The sanctions must be effective and severe to deter these dangerous drivers and to protect the community.[footnote 2]

In Victoria, hoon driving offences are categorised into two 'tiers' in the Road Safety Act 1986. Both tiers are defined in Part 6A ('Impoundment, immobilisation and forfeiture of motor vehicles') of the Act.[footnote 3]

Tier one offences include:

§ speeding or dangerous driving at 70km/h or more over the limit or at 170km/h or more in a 110km/h zone;

§ repeat drink driving with blood alcohol reading of 0.10 or higher;

§ repeat driving under the influence of drugs;

§ repeat unlicensed driving; and

§ repeat driving while suspended or disqualified.

Tier two offences include:

§ speeding or dangerous driving at 45-69km/h or more over the limit or at 145-169km/h or more in a 110km/h zone;

§ street racing and speed trials;

§ 'improper use' of a vehicle by intentionally making one of more wheels lose traction (for example: skids, burn-outs, handbrake turns, donuts);

§ not obeying a lawful direction to stop;

§ driving while a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt; and

§ driving a vehicle when passengers are sitting in an area not designed for passengers.

The penalties that a Magistrate can impose for these offences include: a court order to impound or immobilise the vehicle for between 30 days and three months, a court order that a vehicle be forfeited and sold if found guilty of more than one (tier one) offence, or other penalties such as a fine, loss of demerit points, licence suspension, licence cancellation, imprisonment or disqualification from driving.[footnote 4]

Anti-hoon laws were introduced in Victoria in July 2006 with the Road Safety and Other Acts (Vehicle Impoundment and Other Amendments) Bill 2005. Changes to legislation from July 2011 with the Road Safety Amendment (Hoon Driving) Bill 2010 extended the period for which a vehicle may be impounded or immobilised from 48 hours to 30 days. Section 84F of the Road Safety Act 1986 states:

(1) If a police officer believes on reasonable grounds that a motor vehicle is being, or has been used in the commission of a relevant offence, he or she may—

(aa) search for, or gain access to, the motor vehicle; and

(ab) direct a person of or over the age of 18 years at the premises being searched to provide information concerning the location of the motor vehicle; and

(a) seize the motor vehicle or require it to be surrendered; and

(b) impound or immobilise the motor vehicle for the designated period.

What the Bill does

The Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015 amends the Road Safety Act 1986 to include a new definition of 'designated costs' to include administrative and corporate support costs for the impoundment or immobilisation of a vehicle as part of the designated costs. In the current Act, 'designated costs' are defined as driving or moving the vehicle to a holding yard or place where the vehicle is to be immobilised, storing the vehicle, releasing the vehicle and 'includes any additional costs incurred if the motor vehicle is impounded or immobilised for longer than the designated period' or 'any additional costs incurred if the motor vehicle is relocated' (s 84C(1)).

Key resources

§ 'Hooning' around: A focus group exploration into the effectiveness of vehicle impoundment legislation / Monash University Accent Research Centre, 2011 Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference

§ Victoria's anti-hoon legislation and policing methods used to prevent hooning behaviour / S. Perry & T. McGillian, Joint ACRS-Travelsafe National Conference, 2008

§ Anthony Zaia's death prompts coroner to call for tougher road rules / A. Lowe, The Age, 28 August 2013

§ Cars seized from Victorian hoon drivers will be used to train CFA, SES workers / K. Moor, Herald Sun, 28 November 2013

§ Mum and dad hoon cars to be clamped in driveway rather than impounded under Victoria Police pilot program / R. Cavanagh, Herald Sun, 11 April 2014

§ Hoon laws / Victoria Police

§ Hoon driving and impoundment / Victoria Legal Aid

§ Hoon driving laws / Youthlaw

§ Vehicle impoundment / VicRoads

§ Hoon driving / Cameras Save Lives (Victorian Government)

The Bill also amends the section 84Z of the Road Safety Act 1986 to set out the circumstances when a court must not to decline to make an impoundment, immobilisation or forfeiture order on the grounds of exceptional hardship.

Other jurisdictions

This section provides a brief overview of the current framework and development of hoon legislation in the following jurisdictions: New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. It also provides resources and recent media in each of these jurisdictions.

New South Wales

In NSW, hoon driving offences are contained in the Road Transport Act 2013, Crimes Act 1900and theRoad Rules 2014. Legislation providing police with powers for the removal, impounding and forfeiture of vehicles in connection with street racing and burnout offences were already contained in the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 (repealed and superseded by the Road Transport Act 2013), but in 2008 the passing of theRoad Transport Legislation Amendment (Car Hoons) Act 2008 introduced new measures to increase fines and discourage street racing. The framework prior to the introduction of the 'Car Hoons Bill' enabled a vehicle to be automatically liable to impounding for three months with a second or subsequent offence requiring the vehicle to be automatically forfeited to the Crown. The 2008 amending legislation provided for penalties and sanctions to apply to the drivers, following concern that cars may be deliberately registered in someone else's name so 'the owner can plead ignorance and hardship and almost always get to keep the car'.[footnote 5]

The Bill also imposed penalties for 'mates of hoon drivers' who 'may gather to watch, or urge others on, or who take photographs or film to glamorise the activity'.[footnote 6] This Bill also permitted the NSW Police Force to 'appoint a clamping agent' who is 'permitted to charge a fee for wheel clamping'. This fee will be determined within regulations and is payable by the registered operator of the vehicle.

NSW resources

§ Street racing and other 'hoon' offences / NSW Roads and Maritime website

§ Road Transport (General) Amendment (Vehicle Sanctions) Bill 2012 and Second Reading Speech

§ Call to crack down on hoons' cars across NSW / S. Black, The Daily Telegraph, 7 September 2013

§ Police target hoon hotspots in latest crackdown on dangerous driving / ABC News, 16 April 2015

§ NSW hoon clampdown claims more than 100 cars / A. Patty, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 December 2013

§ NSW police say hoon driver laws working / APP, The Australian, 8 December 2013

The Vehicle Sanction Scheme, introduced in 2012 by the Road Transport (General) Amendment (Vehicle Sanctions) Act 2012, enhanced police powers to impose roadside sanctions on hoon drivers.

South Australia

Legislation related to 'hoon driving' is contained in sections 44B(3) and 46(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1961. These sections are 'misuse' of a motor vehicle (s 44B) and 'reckless and dangerous driving' (s 46). 'Careless driving' (s 45) and 'excessive speed' (s 45A) are also related to 'hoon driving' and a court imposed penalty and the loss of demerit points can be imposed for all the above offences. Police powers related to clamping, impounding and forfeiture of vehicles is contained in the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Variation Regulations 2010 and the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007 that has recently 'strengthened' the South Australian Government's 'crackdown on hoon driving'.[footnote 7]

Section 9 of the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007 states that a person charged with a prescribed offence is liable to pay the clamping and impounding fees to the Commission. Section 6 sets out the period of clamping or impoundment as a period of 28 days with section 7 detailing applications for an extension of the clamping period. Regarding hardship, section 13 of that Act states that a court may decline to make an order for impounding or forfeiture if 'the making of the order would cause severe financial or physical hardship to a person (s 13(1)(a)). In these circumstances, the court must 'order the convicted person to perform not more than 240 hours of community service' (s 13(2)).

South Australian resources

§ Driving with attitude / Towards Zero Together, South Australian Government

§ Tough New Hoon Laws Come into Effect Today / Attorney-General, media release, 31 October 2010

§ South Australia Police impound 33,000 vehicles in five years / D. Nankervis, The Advertiser, 12 February 2015


The Queensland Government website defines 'hooning' as 'any anti-social behaviour conducted in a motor vehicle—a car, van or motorbike—such as speeding, street racing, burnouts and playing loud music from a car stereo' and 'includes any number of traffic offences, such as dangerous driving, careless driving, driving without reasonable consideration for other people, driving in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke, and racing or conducting speed trials on a public road'.[footnote 8]

Like Victoria, in Queensland, 'hooning and other reckless driving offences' are broken into two categories: Type 1 and Type 2. These are defined in section 69A of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000. Type 1 offences include offences committed in a speed trial, a race between motor vehicles, or a burn out, or evading police. A Type 1 first offence can result in a 90 day impoundment and a subsequent Type 1 offence can result in forfeiture of the vehicle. Type 2 offences include driving an uninsured, unregistered or illegally modified vehicle, unlicensed driving, drink driving over 0.15 per cent, exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h, failure to supply a specimen of breath or blood or driving while under a 24 hour suspension.

Amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 in 2002 gave Queensland Police the power to impound and confiscate vehicles involved in hooning offences and new powers to impound, immobilise and confiscate vehicles came into effect on 1 November 2013 with the Police Powers and Responsibilities (Motor Vehicle Impoundment) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013.

Maximum penalties range from 20 to 40 penalty units in addition to the costs associated with impoundment, immobilisation and confiscation of vehicles. The website, which is the Queensland Police hoon towing and impoundment service provider, sets out the costs payable for the driver of the vehicle committing a Type 1 or Type 2 vehicle related offence.[footnote 9] In addition to being issued an infringement notice or court penalty, the driver is liable for costs related to impoundment and immobilisation, including costs for administration, towing, daily storage/impound cost, daily clamp use and clamp removal. The liability of the driver to pay costs of impounding is set out in Chapter 4 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000. Chapter 4 also sets out provisions related to police powers, and applications by drivers for the release of an impounded vehicle on 'the basis that the person would suffer severe hardship if the motor vehicle was not released'.

Queensland resources

§ Hooning / Queensland Government

§ State of the road / Factsheet, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland

§ Australia's Toughest Anti-hoon Laws Came into Effect in Queensland on 1 November 2013 / S. Farrugia, CBP Lawyers, media release, 6 November 2013

§ Understanding street racing and 'hoon' culture: An exploratory investigation of perceptions and experiences / K. Armstrong & D. Steinhardt, Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 38-44

Western Australia

Western Australian resources

§ Hoon driving / Western Australia Police

§ Impounding vehicles / Western Australia Police

§ Road vehicle impoundment information / Western Australia Police

§ Liberals propose new first strike law to seize hoons' cars / A. Mullany, Perth Now, 17 February 2013

§ Hoon drivers increasingly likely to be repeat offenders, police statistics show / A. Mayes, ABC News, 23 June 2014

In 2004, the Road Traffic Amendment (Impounding and Confiscation of Vehicles) Act 2004 introduced 'hoon driving' offences into the Road Traffic Act 1974to combat street racing and reckless driving. In Western Australia, the driver of the vehicle is responsible for all impounding costs including towing the vehicle, storage fees and any administrative fees and charges. Police can impound a vehicle if the driver is driving without a valid driver's licence for certain unauthorised driving offences or if the driver is driving recklessly, such as speeding over 45km/h over the limit. Division 4 of Part V of the Road Traffic Act 1974 addresses impounding and confiscation of vehicles for certain offences.

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[footnote 1] Explanatory Memorandum, Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015, p. 1.

[footnote 2] W. Noonan, Minister for Police (2015) 'Second reading speech: Road Safety Amendment Bill 2015', Debates, Victoria, Legislative Assembly, 24 June, p. 2122.

[footnote 3] See the definitions for Tier one and Tier two relevant offences in s 84C of the Act.

[footnote 4] See also Victoria Legal Aid (2014) 'Hoon driving and impoundment', Victoria Legal Aid website, 8 April.

[footnote 5] D. Campbell, Minister for Police (2008) 'Second reading speech: Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Car Hoons) Bill 2008', Debates, Legislative Assembly, 27 February, p. 5573.

[footnote 6] ibid.

[footnote 7] J. Rau, Attorney-General (2010) Tough New Hoon Laws Come into Effect Today, media release, 31 October.

[footnote 8] Queensland Government (2015) 'Hooning', Queensland Government website.

[footnote 9] (2015) 'Fees', website.