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Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Hooning Offences Hooning Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

Hooning Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

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Like many other Australian States, South Australia has realised that increasing the penalties is an effective way to reduce the rate of engagement in hooning activities. Consequently, a reduction in hooning activities provides a means to ensure that there are fewer road accidents.

Presently, in South Australia, both the court and the police officer have the right to issue separate punishments for committing a hooning offence. The laws guiding these penalties for the different hooning crimes are present in the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA).

For the most part, this article will consider what the law says regarding the different hooning offences, including the penalties. Also, this write-up will take a look at the defences suitable for countering a hooning allegation.

If an individual is convicted for a Hooning offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

What the Law Says Regarding Hooning Offences

There are several hooning offences present in the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA). These offences are:

#1. Misuse of a Motor Vehicle

Section 44B of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA), states that a person could become guilty of misusing a motor vehicle if:

  • They drive a motor vehicle in a way that results in a continuous wheel spin.
  • The person operates a vehicle in a way that causes the engine or the tires to make excessive noise.
  • The individual drives a motor vehicle into a park or garden to scatter the ground surface or cause any form of damage.

It is essential to note that if a person got permission from the owner of a park or garden before driving a vehicle into it, they might not be guilty of an offence.

If found guilty of misusing a motor vehicle, the court will order the offender to compensate for whatever damage or distress they caused. However, before the court can give this order, the prosecution must have been able to convince the court that:

  • The defendant operated a motor vehicle.
  • The defendant misused the motor vehicle they operated.
  • The misuse of the vehicle caused a form of damage to property or distress to people around.

Furthermore, Section 44B(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) establishes that a person can be guilty of an offence if they promote or organise an event involving the misuse of a motor vehicle.

#2. Careless Driving

Under Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA), it is an offence for any individual to carelessly drive a vehicle without considering other road users.

The maximum punishment for this violation is 12 months imprisonment and a compulsory 6 months disqualification from possessing a licence.

These sentences usually apply when the crime becomes aggravated. For example, careless driving can become aggravated under the following circumstances:

  • During the commission of the offence, the culprit caused death or severe bodily injuries to others.
  • When committing the crime, the offender was trying to escape the police.
  • The offender was under suspension or disqualification.
  • The culprit had a certain level of alcohol concentration present in their blood.
  • The offender was driving under the influence of drugs.
  • The offender was driving at an excessive speed.

Nevertheless, Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) exempts specific individuals from facing charges for careless driving.

These individuals are emergency workers such as the police, fire control officials and emergency medical workers. This exemption is because there are times when their jobs might require that they drive carelessly in response to an emergency.

#3. Excessive Speed

Section 45A of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA), states that a person can become guilty of an offence if driving a vehicle above 45km/h.

Committing this offence for the first time attracts a fine of not more than $2800 and not below $2400. On the other hand, a subsequent offence comes with a fine not exceeding $3000 and not less than $2500.

Also, the court must disqualify the offender from obtaining or possessing a licence for a minimum of 6 months. However, a repeat offender may receive a licence disqualification for a minimum of 2 years.

Nevertheless, before the court can convict a person for excessive speed, the prosecution will need to establish that:

  • The defendant operated a vehicle.
  • The accused drove at a speed exceeding 45km/h.
  • The accused has no legal excuse for driving at an excessive speed.

#4. Reckless and Dangerous Driving

Section 46 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA), states that reckless driving or driving at a speed that endangers other road users is an offence. This offence attracts a maximum of 2 years imprisonment.

Furthermore, the court will have to disqualify the offender from possessing or obtaining a licence for a minimum of 12 months. However, a subsequent offence could come with a minimum of 3 years disqualification.

Nonetheless, the court cannot give a punishment for reckless and dangerous driving without considering the following:

  • The road condition at the time the accused allegedly committed the offence.
  • The traffic on the road during the time the crime allegedly took place.

Also, the court will have to consider if the prosecution can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant drove a vehicle.
  • The way the accused drove the vehicle was capable of endangering the lives of other road users.
  • The defendant has no legally justifiable excuse for their actions.

It is crucial to note that even if the law states that no individual must drive recklessly or dangerously, there are some people that the law exempts.

According to Section 46(5) of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA), emergency workers may not face charges if they committed driving recklessly or dangerously when carrying out their duties.

Emergency workers in this section include police officers, emergency medical workers and fire control workers.

The Power of the Police

In South Australia, the police have the power to disqualify a suspect from possessing a licence if the police suspect that they have committed a hooning offence. Additionally, the police have the right to impound a suspect's vehicle for a particular period.

Possible Defences

There are different defences that an accused can claim when faced with an allegation for committing a hooning offence. These defences are:

  • The accused person did not intentionally commit the crime of hooning.
  • Second, the defendant committed a hooning offence to prevent a terrible occurrence.
  • Third, the accused's vehicle was faulty, making them commit a hooning crime.

The Court that Conducts the Trials for Hooning Offences

In South Australia, the Magistrates Court handles most of the trials regarding hooning offences.

Conclusion

The laws regarding engaging in hooning activities are pretty steep. Therefore, if a person faces an allegation for hooning, it is in their best interest to seek a legal practitioner's assistance. A legal practitioner has all it takes to help an accused get the best result possible.

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

If an individual is found guilty of a hooning offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

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

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