Victoria imposes harsh penalties for hoon offences
Every traffic offence in Victoria carries a specified penalty or range of penalties. Those might include fines, demerit points, licence suspensions, and jail sentences.
The designation of a traffic offence as a hoon offence does not change that penalty. Instead, additional penalties are imposed for traffic violations that have been designated as hoon offences.
The police can impose an initial penalty by seizing your vehicle and impounding or immobilizing it for a period of 30 days. They can do that whether or not you were the driver who committed the hoon offence. Ordinarily, the vehicle is returned to you at the end of the 30 days. If the vehicle was immobilized, you are given a key to unlock the wheel clamp or steering wheel lock. If the vehicle was impounded, you need to pay the storage fees charged by the holding yard before the vehicle will be released to you. If the ticketed driver is found “not guilty” of the hoon offence or if no finding of guilt is made within 12 months, storage charges will be refunded to you.
Additional Penalties Imposed for Hoon Offences
If the ticketed driver is found guilty of a hoon offence, the court can impose penalties in addition to those that are imposed for the underlying offence. For instance, drivers found guilty of careless driving will receive penalties for that offence, but extra penalties can be imposed on drivers found guilty of careless driving as a hoon offence. The most serious hoon offences are classified as Tier 1, while the others are classified as Tier 2.
Additional Impoundment or Immobilization
Upon application of the Chief Commissioner of Police, the court must order the impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle used in the hoon offence (or, as described below, a substitute vehicle) for a minimum of 45 days and maximum of 3 months, if:
The driver is found guilty of a Tier 1 offence; or
The driver is found guilty of a Tier 2 offence and has been convicted of any other hoon offence within the past 6 years.
Upon application of the Chief Commissioner of Police, the court may order the forfeiture of the vehicle used to commit the hoon offence (or, as described below, a substitute vehicle) if:
The driver is found guilty of a Tier 1 offence and has been convicted of another Tier 1 offence or two Tier 2 offences within the past 6 years; or
The driver is found guilty of a Tier 2 offence and has been convicted of two other hoon offences within the past 6 years.
The court is not required to order the vehicle’s forfeiture. It can, in its discretion, choose to impose the additional impoundment or immobilization penalties described above instead. If forfeiture is ordered, your vehicle becomes the property of the Crown.
Sometimes the driver of a vehicle used to commit a hoon offence is not the owner or registered operator of the vehicle. In those cases, the Chief Commissioner or police can ask for the impoundment, immobilization, or forfeiture of a substitute vehicle. The driver who committed the hoon offence must be the registered operator of the substitute vehicle.
Rights of the owner or registered operator
Before the additional penalties described above can be imposed, you must be given notice. You have the right to attend the court hearing at which the Chief Commissioner’s request for impoundment, immobilization, or forfeiture is decided. You also have the right to tell your side of the story to the court.
The court must decline to order impoundment, immobilization, or forfeiture of your vehicle if:
- You were not the driver who committed the hoon offence; and
- The offence was committed without your knowledge and consent.
The court may decline to order impoundment, immobilization, or forfeiture of your vehicle if you persuade the court that the penalty would cause extreme hardship to any person.
If you or a loved one need some free advice, or need a competent lawyer to avoid forfeiture of your vehicle,
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.