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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 in a South Australian (SA) court for a Hooning offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in SA.
There are several hooning offences present in the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA). These offences are:
Section 44B of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA), states that a person could become guilty of misusing a motor vehicle if:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
Also, the court will have to consider if the prosecution can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that:
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.
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.
There are different defences that an accused can claim when faced with an allegation for committing a hooning offence. These defences are:
In South Australia, the Magistrates Court handles most of the trials regarding hooning offences.
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.
If an individual is found guilty of a hooning offence in a SA court, 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.
Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) - https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/lz?path=%2Fc%2Fa%2Froad%20traffic%20act%201961
Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) (Austlii References) - http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_act/rta1961111/
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