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  • Hooning Offences and Penalties in Tasmania

    Hooning is a general term used in referring to a wide range of vehicle-related offences. In Tasmania, vehicle-related offences carry several penalties.

    In fact, if the police suspect that a person has committed a vehicle-related offence, they can either impound or confiscate the suspect's vehicle right on the spot.

    The laws and penalties regarding hooning behaviours are present in the Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas) and the Traffic Act 1925 (Tas).

    This write-up will discuss what the law says regarding the different hooning behaviours, the penalties that accompany each, and possible defences for most vehicle-related charges.

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

    What the Law Says Regarding Hooning Offences in Tasmania

    There are different sections of the law present in the Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas) and the Traffic Act 1925 (Tas) that address the various hooning offences such as:

    #1. Excessive Noise or Smoke/ Causing a Vehicle to Lose Traction/Racing

    Section 37J of the Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas) states that a person must have authorisation before they can operate a vehicle in a public place in such a way that:

    • The vehicle produces a needless amount of noise or smoke.
    • The vehicle unnecessarily accelerates or loses its traction.
    • People can see the vehicle racing with other vehicles.

    If an individual does any of the above acts without authorisation, they will be liable to a maximum of twenty penalty units or 3 months imprisonment.

    Apart from any of these punishments, the court will have to disqualify them from driving for a maximum of 2 years. It is essential to note that a disqualification also works to cancel any Australian driving licence held by the offender.

    However, convicting a person for a crime in this section will require the prosecution to prove that:

    • The defendant operated a vehicle.
    • The defendant used the vehicle outside what is acceptable by the law.
    • The defendant has no reasonable excuse for their actions.

    #2. Reckless Driving

    Section 32 of the Traffic Act 1925 (Tas) criminalises driving a vehicle on a public street recklessly without consideration for other road users, the amount of traffic and the nature of the public road.

    Any individual found to have committed this offence for the first time will be liable to a summary conviction. They may face a maximum of 20 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment, or both. On the other hand, second-time offenders may face a maximum of 40 penalty units or 4 years imprisonment or both.

    Furthermore, Section 32(2) of the Traffic Act 1925 (Tas) states that no individual must commit the crime of negligently driving a motor vehicle on a public street. Committing this crime attracts a fine not exceeding 5 penalty units.

    However, the penalty can increase if the offender, through their negligent driving, caused the death of another person. In this scenario, the court will try to determine if it is the first time the defendant is committing the crime.

    A first-time offender may face a maximum fine of 10 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment, while a repeat offender may receive a fine of 20 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.

    Additionally, a person who causes grievous injuries to another individual due to driving negligently on a public road may face higher penalties.

    These penalties involve a maximum fine of 10 penalty units or 1-year imprisonment for a first-time offence. A subsequent violation may come with a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units or 18 months in prison.

    Nevertheless, before a court can convict a person for any offence under this section, the prosecution will have to establish that:

    • The accused person drove a vehicle on a public street.
    • The defendant drove the vehicle recklessly.
    • The accused has no genuine or justifiable excuse for their conduct.

    #3. Use of Loudspeaker From a Vehicle

    Section 42 of the Traffic Act 1925 (Tas) states that no individual must make use of a loudspeaker on or from their vehicle unless:

    • They have obtained a permit that allows them to do such.
    • The individual worked as a police officer, transport inspector or emergency worker and was carrying out their duty.

    Apart from these categories of people, any individual who uses a loudspeaker on or from their vehicle may become guilty of an offence. This offence attracts a fine not exceeding 10 penalty units.

    Nonetheless, the court cannot punish a person for using a loudspeaker from or on their vehicle without the prosecution establishing that:

    • First, the defendant had a loudspeaker present inside or on their vehicle.
    • Secondly, the accused used the loudspeaker without having a permit or without their job requiring them to use it.
    • Finally, the defendant has no reasonable means of justifying their actions.

    Punishments the Police Can Give

    Based on Section 37N of the Police Offences Act 1953 (Tas), the police have the power to either clamp or confiscate the vehicle of a person suspected of committing any vehicle-related offence. This clamping or confiscation could last for 90 days.

    To carry out the clamping or confiscation, the police can instruct that:

    • The suspect turns off the vehicle or brings the vehicle to a standstill.
    • The individual surrenders the key or any necessary item the vehicle requires for its operation.
    • The accused do not try to object to them entering the vehicle.

    Furthermore, the police can order a suspect to bring their vehicle at the said time and place so they can clamp or confiscate the vehicle. Failure to follow any of the instructions earlier mentioned attracts a maximum fine of 40 penalty units.

    Possible Defences

    A person can use several suitable defences in challenging a legal accusation for hooning. Some of these defences include:

    • The Accused Has a Permit

    Acquiring a permit can allow a person to carry out some activities considered to be hooning. These activities include using a loudspeaker from or in a vehicle and engaging in speed racing.

    • The Defendant Did Not Wilfully Commit the Crime

    If a defendant did not intentionally commit any of the offences considered to be hooning, they might have a defence. For instance, a defendant can claim that a mechanical fault caused them to have little or no control over the vehicle.

    • Necessity

    An accused can only use the defence of necessity if they committed a hooning offence to respond to an emergency. An example of an emergency is someone who requires immediate medical attention.

    The Court that Handles the Trials for Hooning Offences in Tasmania

    In Tasmania, the Magistrates Court handles the majority of trials for hooning offences.

    Bottom Line

    No matter how trivial a hooning offence might seem, it could still leave a person with a criminal record, which can negatively impact an individual's life. Based on this reason, it is crucial for a person to seek legal counsel when faced with a charge for a vehicle-related offence.

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

    If an individual is found guilty of a hooning offence in Tasmania, 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.

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