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Hoon driving defence lawyer Melbourne. Impound laws Victoria.

Hooning and Vehicle Impoundment

 

Some Victorian driving offences can result in vehicle impoundment. These offences are colloquially known as hoon driving offences.


Hoon Driving Offences in Victoria:

  • driving more than 45kmh over the speed limit
  • driving at a speed in excess of 145kmh
  • loss of traction (burnouts)
  • excessive noise or smoke (burnouts)
  • engaging in street racing
  • continuing to drive after police have directed you to stop
  • a second or subsequent offence of drink driving if your reading is 0.10% or more
  • a second or subsequent offence of drug driving
  • a second or subsequent offence of driving whilst suspended or disqualified
  • a second or subsequent offence of driving without ever holding a licence
  • recklessly entering a level crossing when a train or tram is approaching
  • too many passengers on board (overloading) a motor vehicle


Improper use of a motor vehicle

Many hoon driving offences arise from what the legislation calls "improper use of a motor vehicle".

"Improper use" is defined at s.84C of the Road Safety Act. It means the driver has intentionally spun the vehicle's wheels to cause loss of traction.  For example, the offence of careless driving involving improper use of a motor vehicle under s.65A Road Safety Act means the driver drove carelessly and spun the wheels recklessly or intentionally. If you spin the wheels of your vehicle (e.g. doing burnouts and donuts) the police will most likely impound your vehicle for 30 days and you will end up facing charges in court. 


Consequences of committing a Hoon Driving Offence:

Part 6A of the Road Safety Act 1986 allows the police to impound a motor vehicle driven or owned by a person who commits a hoon driving offence. The test is not whether you are a hoon, but whether the police reasonably suspect you have committed an eligible offence.

Licence loss is not an automatic consequence of hoon driving. Some hooning offences also carry mandatory licence loss, e.g. excessive speed and drink driving. In other cases it is up to the court to decide whether or not you lose your licence.


Motor Vehicle Impoundment

The police have a discretion as to whether they will impound or immobilise a motor vehicle in relation to a hooning offence. If the police have reasonable grounds to believe that a relevant offence has been committed and they know the identity of the driver then they can impound the vehicle immediately without issuing any infringement notice and before filing any charges. Usually the police will call a tow truck to take your vehicle to an impound facility. The police can also impound the vehicle at a later date by serving you a notice requiring you to deliver the vehicle to an impound depot.

The police can impound the vehicle even if the offender is not the owner of the vehicle.

This page contains a summary of Victoria's impoundment laws and does not describe all the parameters of these laws. The laws are quite technical and complicated so it might be necessary to seek personal legal advice if you have a specific problem relating to vehicle impoundments or forfeitures.


High Speed Offences

If the police detect a speed in excess of 45kmh above the speed limit, or in excess of 145kmh, the police can impound the vehicle. If the offender is pulled over by police, the impoundment usually happens on the spot by the police calling a tow truck. The police can also serve an impound notice up to 10 days after the date of the offence. If the offence is detected by speed camera, the police will first need to identify the driver of the vehicle before they can impound the vehicle. So they will interview the owner (and any nominated person) to determine who was driving. The police can serve an impound notice on the driver up to 42 days after the date of an eligible speed camera offence.


Impoundment Periods

All offenders can have their vehicle impounded or immobilised by police for 30 days. For some offences the court can impose a further period of impoundment of between 2 and 8 weeks.

Second offenders may find that the police apply to the court for a further period of impoundment of at least 45 days. Courts can order an impoundment of up to three months for subsequent offenders.  The application must be made within 28 days after the driver is sentenced.

Extreme high risk speeding offenders, such as traveling more than 70km/h over the speed limit (or exceed 170 km/h in a 110 km/h speed zone), are treated as second offenders.

Third offenders (or second offenders if one of the offences is extreme high risk speeding) can have their vehicle impounded or immobilised for 30 days by police. If the offender is found guilty at court the police can apply for permanent vehicle confiscation. The application must be made within 28 days after the driver is sentenced.


Vehicle search, seizure, immobilisation, forfeiture.

The police can enter (without force) your property to search for your motor vehicle. You are obliged to tell them where it is if they ask.  For drink driving and drug driving offences arising from blood or saliva samples the police have 3 months from the date of the offence to serve an impound notice.  For speed camera offences, the police have 42 days to impound the vehicle. For all other offences, they must serve the impound notice within 10 days of the date of the offence.

The police can either impound the vehicle by towing it to a impound yard, or require you to deliver the vehicle to an impound yard, or immobilise the vehicle with a wheel clamp or steering lock.

The police can direct VicRoads to ban you from transferring ownership of a vehicle which is the subject of an application to the court for impoundment or forfeiture.

The police can apply to substitute the offending vehicle for any other vehicle that is registered in your name. So if you are caught hooning in your mum's car the police can apply for impoundment or forfeiture of a vehicle registered in your name.

If you commit too many hoon driving offences the police can apply to the court for an order that your motor vehicle be forfeited, which means it will be sold or destroyed by the police.


Costs

You will have to pay the cost of towing and storage before you will be allowed to retrieve your vehicle. The cost of a tow and 1 month impound in Melbourne is often about $800.


Appeal Rights

You have a right of appeal against an impoundment or a forfeiture order. The owner can also apply to a Magistrates Ctheourt for release of vehicle if the impoundment is causing them exceptional hardship. You might want to get legal advice from a lawyer if you wish to challenge an impoundment or forfeiture order.


Safe Driving Programs

If a court finds you guilty of a hoon driving offence committed after 20 February 2013 the court must order that you complete an approved safe driving program if you have not previously completed such a program.

If you fail to complete an approved safe driving program as ordered then VicRoads must suspend your drivers licence until you have completed the program.



Related Pages:

Speeding Offences
Infringement Notices
Getting Legal Advice

VicRoads Impoundment Webpage

 

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