Hoon driving and impoundment

Read our legal information about COVID-19 coronavirus.

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 types of offences. Most hoon-driving offences can result in a vehicle being impounded or immobilised for a first offence. Other hoon offences will only be classed as hoon-driving offences if the vehicle has been involved in another hoon driving offence within the last six years.

Offences that may result in a vehicle being impounded for a single offence, are:

  • driving while disqualified, suspended or unlicensed
  • drink-driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or more
  • breaching an alcohol interlock licence condition
  • speeding at 45 km or more above the speed limit
  • driving at 145 km/hour or more in a 110 km/hour zone
  • deliberately causing the vehicle to skid, smoke or make excessive noise (such as doing a burn-out)
  • disobeying a police direction to stop
  • riding a monkey bike (mini motorbike) on a road
  • deliberately driving across tracks when a train is coming
  • driving without having proper control of a vehicle
  • driving negligently or dangerously while being chased by the police.
  • having too many passengers in the vehicle (more passengers than seat belts)
  • participating in a speed race, or organising one
  • intentionally or recklessly:
    • exposing emergency workers or custody officers to risk by driving
    • driving into and damaging an emergency services vehicle (such as a police car or ambulance)
Offences that are only hoon offences if this is your second hoon driving offence in the last six years include:
  • driving with an illicit drug in your saliva or blood
  • drink driving with a BAC of less than 0.10
  • drink driving on a zero BAC licence (such as P-platers or taxi drivers) if BAC is more than zero and less than 0.10.
  • deliberately damaging an emergency services vehicle, such as a police vehicle or ambulance.
Extra hoon-driving offences are added to this list from time to time. The laws about impoundment, immobilisation and forfeiture only apply if the offence was listed as a hoon driving offence at the time the offence happened. For example, the offence of deliberately damaging an emergency vehicle was added to the list of hoon offences on 28 October 2018. If a driver was caught before this date, the offence will not be counted as a hoon driving offence. 

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. They can do this even if they do not know who was driving at the time.

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.

Usually the police have to serve this notice within ten days from the time that the offence is alleged, but there are exceptions. They have 42 days to serve the notice if the offence was:

  • caught on a speed camera
  • disobeying an order to stop
  • driving while being chased by police.

If the driver was charged with a drink or drug driving offence and the driver had to give a sample of blood or saliva, the police have up to three months to serve this 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 up to three months you have committed:

  • a hoon driving offence, and
  • you have been found guilty of one other hoon driving offence within the last six years.  

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

A forfeiture order means that you no longer own the vehicle. Ownership is transferred to the government and the vehicle is sold or destroyed. The magistrate can make a court order that a vehicle be forfeited if you are found guilty or convicted of:

  • a hoon driving offence, and
  • you have been found guilty of two or more other hoon driving offences within the last six years.

Other penalties

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

  • a fine
  • demerit points
  • having to do a safe driving program
  • 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.

Was this helpful?