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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Hooning Offences Hooning Offences and Penalties in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    Hooning Offences and Penalties in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    The term hooning covers various vehicle-related offences. Specifically, this involves street racing, negligent or dangerous driving, e.t.c. Many Australian states do not take hooning offences lightly as they account for the rate of road accidents.

    Therefore States and Territories, including the Australian Capital Territory, have adopted strict measures in tackling the rate of hooning activities. One of these stringent measures includes empowering the police to give immediate punishment to anyone suspected of engaging in hooning activities.

    The laws and penalties regarding hooning offences are present in the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT).

    Primarily, this article will delve into what the Australian Capital Territory law says regarding the different hooning offences and each of their punishments. Also, this write-up will discuss the possible defences that an accused can raise when faced with a charge for hooning.

    If an individual is convicted in an ACT court for a Hooning offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in the ACT.

    What the Law Says about the Different Hooning Offences in the ACT

    Several offences fall under hooning based on the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT). These offences are:

    #1. Racing, Attempt on Speed Records/Speed Trials

    Section 5A of the Road Transport (Safety Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) states that a person can be guilty of an offence if the individual does not get written approval from the appropriate authority before:

    • The individual engages in a racing competition on a road or an area similar to a road.
    • The person tries to break a speed record on a road or an area relating to a road.
    • The individual tests the maximum speed or acceleration of a vehicle on a road or a road-related area.
    • The person engages in an activity to test their driving skills or the mechanical state of a vehicle on the road or an area similar to a road.

    An offender under this section may face a fine of 20 penalty units. However, before an ACT court can convict a person, the prosecution will need to establish that:

    • The defendant has no written approval to engage in racing, breaking speed records or engaging in speed trials.
    • The accused was involved in racing, breaking a speed record and speed trial on the road or a road-related area.
    • The defendant has no legally justifiable excuse.

    It is important to note that a written approval usually comes with some condition that the recipient must follow. These conditions serve the purpose of safeguarding the interest of the public. Going against these conditions attracts a fine of 20 penalty units.

    #2. Improper Use of Motor Vehicle

    According to Section 5B of the Road Transport (Safety Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) improper use of a motor vehicle on a highway or a road-related area is an offence. Improper use of a motor vehicle refers to operating a vehicle in a manner that causes it to lose traction in one or more of its wheels.

    Committing the crime of improper motor vehicle use attracts a fine of 20 penalty units. Nonetheless, the fine can become 30 penalty units if the crime involves using any prohibited substance.

    Prohibited substances in this section have to do with fluids such as petrol, diesel fuel, oils or any flammable liquid capable of causing injury, death and destruction of property.

    However, convicting a person for the crime of improper use of a motor vehicle requires the prosecution to establish that:

    • The defendant improperly used a motor vehicle on a road or a road-related area.
    • The defendant has no legally justifiable excuse for improperly using a motor vehicle.

    #3. Negligent Driving

    Section 6 of the Road Transport (Safety Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) states that a person commits an offence if they negligently drive a vehicle on a road or a road-related area. Primarily, this offence attracts a fine of 20 penalty units.

    Nevertheless, if this crime leads to the death of another individual, the punishment will be a fine of 200 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment or both. If the crime results in severe bodily injury to another person, the sentence will be 100 penalty units or 1-year imprisonment or both.

    However, the court cannot convict a person for an offence in this section without considering the following:

    • The condition of the road or the road-related area where the defendant allegedly committed the crime.
    • The amount of traffic at the time the defendant allegedly committed the crime.

    Also, the court will have to consider if the prosecution can establish that:

    • The defendant drove a vehicle on a road or a road-related area.
    • The defendant drove negligently.
    • The accused has no legal excuse for driving negligently.

    #4. Furious/Reckless or Dangerous Driving

    Based on Section 7 of the Road Transport (Safety Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT), a person can become guilty of an offence if:

    • The individual furiously or recklessly drives a motor vehicle on a road or an area related to a road.
    • The individual drives at a speed that is likely to endanger other road users.

    Committing any of these offences comes with a fine of 100 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment, or both.

    However, it is vital to note that the offence of furious/negligent or dangerous driving can become aggravated under certain circumstances. These circumstances are:

    • The offender did not comply with the order they received from the police to stop the vehicle.
    • The culprit had a prescribed level of alcohol concentration in their blood or oral fluid.
    • The accused person was driving while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
    • The offender was driving 30% beyond the speed limit.
    • The offender had a passenger below 17 present in the vehicle.
    • The culprit is a repeat offender.

    According to Section 7A of the Road Transport (Safety Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT), a first time aggravated offender for furious/reckless or dangerous driving may receive 300 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment or both. A repeat offender could face a punishment of 500 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment or both.

    The Punishment the Police Can Give

    In the ACT, the police have the power to issue punishments on the spot to anyone suspected of engaging in hooning. These punishments involve the impoundment or forfeiture of vehicles.

    Possible Defences

    When a person faces charges for engaging in hooning, there are different possible defences they can raise. These defences are:

    • The defendant committed the crime as a response to an emergency.
    • Second, the accused did not intentionally commit the crime.
    • Third, the vehicle that the defendant was driving had a mechanical fault.

    The Court that Handles Trials for Hooning Offences in the ACT

    In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Magistrates Court conducts most of the trials for hooning.

    Bottom Line

    Knowing the steps to take when facing an allegation for hooning can save a person from so much trouble. One of the most critical steps to take is employing the service of a legal practitioner. A legal practitioner has the necessary experience required to represent the defendant's best interest.

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

    If an individual is found guilty of a hooning offence in the ACT, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal background check.

    Individuals can obtain a criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1999-80/

    Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) (Austlii References) - http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/act/consol_act/rtatma1999412/

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