Hoon driving and impoundment

Hoon driving and impoundment

Hoon driving is used to describe a list of offences that involve reckless driving behaviour that puts the public at risk.

Penalties for hoon driving offences include the vehicle being impounded, immobilised or forfeited.

Types of hoon driving offences

There are two levels of offences.

Level one offences, which are more serious, are:

Note: The ‘repeat’ offences are only hoon driving offences if they happened after 30 June 2011.

Level two offences include:

  • any drink driving offence where BAC is 0.10 or more (including first offence)
  • deliberately causing the vehicle to skid, smoke or make excessive noise
  • deliberately driving across tracks when a train or tram is coming
  • dangerous driving
  • disobeying a police direction to stop
  • having too many people in your vehicle
  • driving in or organising a speed race
  • speeding at between 45 and 70 km over the speed limit
  • speeding at between 145 and up to 170 km/hour in a 110 km/hour zone.

This is not a complete list of hoon offences.

What the police do

Police may impound or immobilise your vehicle for up to 30 days if they believe that a vehicle has been involved in a hoon driving offence within the last 48 hours.

If police do not act within 48 hours, they can still impound or immobilise a vehicle if they serve a surrender notice on the registered owner.

They have to serve this notice within ten days from the time that the offence is alleged, unless the incident was caught on a speed camera. In this case, they have 42 days to serve the surrender notice.

Police can apply to the court for impoundment, immobilisation or forfeiture orders.

Going to court

For information about how to prepare for the court hearing see Going to court for traffic offences.

Penalties if you are found guilty

If you are found guilty or convicted of hoon driving, the magistrate may impose a range of other penalties. What happens in court goes on your criminal record.

Impoundment or immobilisation orders

A magistrate can make a court order to impound or immobilise the vehicle you were driving for between 30 days and three months if you have committed:

  • a tier one offence
    and
  • you have been found guilty of another hoon driving offence within the last six years (see the note under ‘Forfeiture orders’ about prior offences).

The magistrate may decide to make an impoundment or immobilisation order if you are found guilty or plead guilty to a hoon driving offence in court.

Forfeiture orders

The magistrate can make a court order that a vehicle be forfeited and sold if you are found guilty or convicted of:

  • a second tier one offence within the last six years
  • three hoon driving offences within the last six years.

Note: if your offence happened before 1 July 2012, any prior hoon offences can be counted if they happened up to three years before the latest hoon driving offence.

Other penalties

If the magistrate finds you guilty of a hoon driving offence, the magistrate can give you other penalties. These depend on the particular offence. Other penalties could include:

  • a fine
  • demerit points
  • disqualification from driving
  • licence suspension or cancellation
  • going to jail.

See Possible outcomes for traffic offences for more information about penalties and other outcomes.

The magistrate’s decision

The magistrate can choose whether or not to make an order against a vehicle. In general, a magistrate makes an order unless you show that the order would cause exceptional hardship to any person, including the driver. This can be quite a hard test to meet.

In all cases, you will get a chance to tell the court whether an order of any kind should be made. The application can only be made once you plead or once the magistrate has found you guilty of the relevant offence.

If the owner was not the driver

The magistrate can still make an order if the vehicle that was used when a hoon driving offence happened was owned by someone else.

If you are the owner of the vehicle you will have to explain to the magistrate why immobilising, impounding or forfeiting the vehicle would cause exceptional hardship.

The court may ask you to give an undertaking. This is a promise that you will not let the person drive your vehicle for a certain amount of time.

If you breach the undertaking the court may go ahead and order that the vehicle is impounded, immobilised or forfeited and sold.

Getting your vehicle back

If the vehicle was immobilised, the vehicle owner will have to collect the key at the specified police station. You will have to return the lock within 24 hours to the station after unlocking the vehicle.

If your vehicle is impounded, it will be taken to a secure garage or storage area. After the impoundment period ends, you will have to pay for the cost of storage to get the vehicle back.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with traffic offences.