Victoria Legal Aid

Hoon driving

Hoon driving describes a list of offences involving reckless driving behaviour.

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

Police may impound or immobilise your vehicle if you are suspected or convicted of hoon driving. The magistrate can make a court order that your vehicle be forfeited and sold if you are found guilty or convicted of repeated hoon driving.

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
  • intentionally or recklessly 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 can 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

If you have a future court date, you may be eligible to get help to prepare before you go to court. You can request help onlineExternal Link .

For information about how to prepare for the court hearing visit our page Going to court for traffic offences.

Can I adjourn my hearing?

You can ask the magistrate to adjourn (put off) your case if you have a good reason. For example, to get a lawyer.

If you have not adjourned your case before and you are on summons, you may be able to get an adjournment without going into the courtroom. When you arrive at court, go to the counter and tell the staff you want an adjournment.

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 police want to apply for a court order. What should I do?

If the police have served you with a brief of evidence, the brief should include notice of the police’s intention to apply for a court order if you are found guilty. Get legal advice before going to court if this is the case.

Will the magistrate make an order?

If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the police can apply for one of the orders described above.

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.

You will get a chance to tell the court why you do not want an order. The application can only be made once you plead or once the magistrate has found you guilty of the relevant offence.

How does the magistrate decide my penalties?

The magistrate looks at:

  • how serious your offence is
  • if you have been found guilty of similar offences before.
    If this is the case, get legal advice
  • what else is happening in your life.

The magistrate also has to balance the safety of the public and the public interest against any exceptional hardship to you or someone else.

Sometimes the magistrate must make an order. For example, if you were hoon driving while suspended.

What happens if my friend was caught hoon driving in my car?

The magistrate can still make an order against your vehicle if someone else was hoon driving in it.

If you own the vehicle, you will have to explain to the magistrate why immobilising, impounding or forfeiting the vehicle would cause exceptional hardship to you or
someone else.

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

If you let that person drive your vehicle again, the court may impound, immobilise or sell your vehicle.

What else might happen if I am found guilty?

What happens in court goes on your criminal record. If your careless driving caused an accident, the magistrate can make you pay compensation for any damage to someone’s property.

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

How can I get my 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.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 21 August 2022

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