If you are caught speeding, drag racing, doing burnouts, doughnuts, screeching tyres or driving in an otherwise reckless manner, you may be charged. These are commonly known as the ‘hoon’ laws (not a legal term).
What are the penalties for hooning?
If you are convicted of a hooning offence then chances are you will be disqualified from driving for a period of time and receive a fine. In addition, the vehicle you were driving at the time of the offence can be impounded, even if it does not belong to you.
The ‘hoon’ driving offences subject to impounding are:
- Reckless driving.
- Driving at or over 155 km/h.
- Driving at 45 km/h or more over the speed limit.
- Causing undue noise/smoke.
Your car can also be impounded for other offences which do not involve ‘hoon’ laws.
What happens if a vehicle is impounded?
If you are suspected of committing an impounding offence, the vehicle used at the time can be impounded immediately by the Police or within 28 days. This means that the vehicle will be towed to a storage yard and kept there for a set duration. The length of time that the vehicle will be impounded depends on the offence the Police suspect you have committed and whether you have previously had a car impounded:
- 28 days for the first time you commit an impounding offence.
- 3 months if you are a previous offender.
If you have had a vehicle impounded for hooning twice already, the Court may order for the vehicle to be confiscated on the third occasion. This means the car will not be returned to you.
Who pays the impounding costs?
If you are convicted of a driving offence that is subject to impounding, then you are responsible for paying all the costs of impounding, including towage and storage costs. In the metropolitan area, the typical cost for a 28 day impoundment is $900. If you cannot pay these costs, then the vehicle may not be released.
If you are found not guilty of the ‘hooning’ offence or the charge is dropped, you can be reimbursed any impounding fee paid by you or, if you have not yet paid, you will not have to pay the impounding costs.
Someone else was driving my car when it was impounded. What can I do?
If another driver committed an impounding offence while driving your vehicle there are some limited circumstances where you can apply for your vehicle to be released. For example:
- The vehicle was stolen.
- You can demonstrate that you will suffer exceptional hardship if the vehicle is not released.
- The impounding offence was committed by a vehicle service provider, such as a mechanic, while the vehicle was in their professional care.
- The driver was a potential buyer, who was test-driving the vehicle.
You will not be granted an early release of your vehicle on the grounds that you voluntarily lent it to a friend, relative or other person.
The person convicted of a driving offence while using your car is responsible for paying the costs associated with impoundment. However, you will need to pay the bill when you pick up your car from the storage yard.