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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.
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).
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:
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:
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:
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:
Section 42 of the Traffic Act 1925 (Tas) states that no individual must make use of a loudspeaker on or from their vehicle unless:
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:
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:
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.
A person can use several suitable defences in challenging a legal accusation for hooning. Some of these defences include:
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.
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.
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.
In Tasmania, the Magistrates Court handles the majority of trials for hooning offences.
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.
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.
Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas) - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1935-044
Traffic Act 1925 (Tas) - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1925-038
Legal Aid Tasmania (Factsheet - Clamping and Confiscation of Motor Vehicles) - https://www.legalaid.tas.gov.au/factsheets/clamping-and-confiscation-of-motor-vehicles/
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