Hoon Driving (Vic)

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

The term hoon driving is used to describe a wide range of offences involving reckless driving behaviour that puts the lives of others at risk.

Your vehicle may be impounded or immobilised by the police if you’ve been charged with or convicted of hoon driving. Your vehicle may also be forfeited and sold if you’ve been convicted.

Hoon driving offences

There are two types of hoon-driving offences.

Type 1 hooning offences are more severe than type 2 hooning offences.

Type 1 hooning offences include activities such as:

  • Unlicensed driving or driving after being disqualified is a repeat offence.
  • Drinking or driving under the influence repeatedly.
  • Driving at a speed of 70kh/h or beyond.
  • Driving at a speed of 170km/h in a zone with a prescribed speed limit of 110km/h.
  • Trying to escape the police by driving recklessly.
  • Refusing to stop after police told you to.

Hooning offences of type 2 include:

  • This is your first time driving under the influence (alcohol or drugs).
  • Driving an overcrowded vehicle.
  • Speed racing on the road without permission.
  • Driving recklessly/dangerously.
  • Use of a motor vehicle improperly.

What can the police do?

The police can impound or immobilise your car for up to 30 days if they think it was involved in a hoon-driving crime within the last 48 hours, even if they don’t know who was driving.

The police can still impound or immobilise a vehicle if they serve the registered owner with a surrender notice if they don’t act within 48 hours.

A police officer usually has to serve the notice within ten days after the offence is alleged, but there are some exceptions. Police 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.

The police have three months to serve this surrender notice if the driver was charged with a drink or drug driving offence and had to give a blood or saliva sample.

Police can get impoundment, immobilisation, or forfeiture orders from the court.

Hooning Offences: What the Law Says

According to the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) and Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), hooning involves the following offences:

Careless Driving

A careless operation of a motor vehicle on a highway is an offence under Section 65 of the Road Traffic Act 1986 (Vic).

The maximum penalty unit for this offence is 12 penalty units. However, if it is a subsequent offence, it may be 25 penalty units.

Additionally, section 65(2) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) specifies that careless driving on a highway (apart from motor vehicles) constitutes an offence.

If you commit this offence for the first time, you will be punished with 6 penalty units, and if you commit it again you will be punished with 12 penalty units.

The prosecution will have to prove that before the court can convict someone for driving carelessly:

  • The defendant operated a motor vehicle or a vehicle.
  • A highway was the route taken by the accused.
  • Motor vehicle or vehicle operated carelessly by the defendant.
  • Driving recklessly is not justified.

Improper Use of Motor Vehicle

Under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic), section 65A establishes that the operation of a motor vehicle, whether in one or more of its wheels, causes the vehicle to lose traction. This offence carries a maximum of five penalty units.

However, the prosecution must prove the following in order for the court to find the defendant guilty of improper use of a motor vehicle:

  • The defendant drove a vehicle.
  • Intentionally losing traction caused by the accused.
  • Improper use of a motor vehicle cannot be justified by the defendant.

Speed Trials

A person can be guilty of an offence under section 68 of the Road Traffic Act 1986 (Vic) if:

  • The individual uses a motor vehicle for racing or speed trials.
  • A person in charge of a motor vehicle allows another individual to use their motor vehicle for racing or speed trials.

If convicted, an offender will receive 8 penalty units and a repeat offender will receive 15 penalty units. However, the prosecution must prove that:

The defendant drove the motor vehicle or was the person in charge of the motor vehicle.

The Accused permitted another individual to use their vehicle in racing/speed trials, or the accused used the vehicle for racing or speed trials.

The accused has no means of justifying their actions

The punishment for this offence is 8 penalty units, while a subsequent offence attracts 15 penalty units. The promotion, organising, or conducting of racing events on highways is also an offence under Section 68(2).

Dangerous Driving While Pursued by the Police

An offence under section 319AA of VicCrimes Act 1958 (Vic) is for someone to drive negligently or dangerously when a police officer has directed them to stop and the officer is chasing them.

This offence carries a three-year prison sentence. However, before the court can impose this penalty, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant drove a motor vehicle.
  • Police instructed the accused to stop the vehicle, or the accused ought to have known.
  • The defendant refused to stop when he knew a police officer was pursuing them, instead driving dangerously or negligently. 

What the Police Can Do

The police have the right to impound or immobilise a vehicle if they believe that a person has committed hooning offences.

When a vehicle is impounded, it’s relocated to a secure location.

An immobilisation device, such as a wheel clamp or steering wheel lock, is used to make an undrivable vehicle.

Hooning Offences in Victoria Are Tried in this Court

Trials for hooning offences are mostly conducted in Victoria’s Magistrates Court.

Possible Defences

A hooning offence can be challenged by claiming these defences:

  • The defendant has a permit
  • Defendants who can show the court a permit may not be convicted of racing or speed trials.

In most cases, motoring organisations get this permit, so they can run races and speed trials.

  • It was an unintentional crime committed by the accused

There’s a defence if a defendant commits a hooning offence unintentionally. For example, a defendant could claim the loss of traction on their motor vehicle was the result of a mechanical problem.

  • Necessity

A defendant can use the necessity defence when committing a hooning offence to prevent something bad from happening.

It’s important to understand the following laws to avoid breaking them and facing different penalties. However, if someone gets charged with hooning, they have the right to contact a lawyer who can help them out.

Will a Hooning Offence show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

A hooning conviction will show up on a person’s Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check as a disclosable court outcome (DCO).