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  • Hooning Offences and Penalties in Victoria (VIC)

    Hooning is a colloquial term that primarily refers to reckless driving behaviours. Many states in Australia, including Victoria, do not take hooning lightly as several penalties come with it, apart from the fines and imprisonment sentences.

    These penalties are evident in the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) and the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). Specifically, these Acts provide the laws regarding offences categorised as hooning and the penalties that follow.

    The purpose of these laws and penalties is to reduce the rate of hooning activities, consequently ensuring the public's safety.

    This article will be delving into the offences grouped as hooning, its penalties and possible defences.

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

    Hooning Offences

    There are two categories of hooning crimes; type 1 and type 2 hooning offences. Type 1 hooning offences are more severe than type 2 hooning offences. Type 1 hooning offences include activities such as:

    • A repeated offence of driving while unlicensed or after a disqualification.
    • A repeated offence of driving while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
    • Driving at a speed of 70kh/h or beyond.
    • Driving at a speed of 170km/h in a zone with a prescribed speed limit of 110km/h.
    • Driving recklessly to escape the police.
    • Refusal to stop after receiving instruction from the police.

    In the case of type 2 hooning offences, this involves:

    • A first-time violation of driving under the influence (alcohol or drugs).
    • Driving an overcrowded vehicle.
    • Speed racing on the road without permission.
    • Careless/dangerous driving.
    • Improper use of motor vehicles.

    What the Law Says Regarding Some of the Offences that Falls Under Hooning

    Based on the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) and the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), a person can be guilty of hooning when they commit any of the following offences:

    #1. Careless Driving

    Section 65 of the Road Traffic Act 1986 (Vic) states that it is an offence for any individual to carelessly operate a motor vehicle on a highway.

    Committing this offence attracts a maximum of 12 penalty units. Nevertheless, if it is a subsequent offence, this may carry a maximum of 25 penalty units.

    Furthermore, Section 65(2) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) establishes that a person can become guilty of an offence if they carelessly drive a vehicle (Apart from a motor vehicle) on a highway.

    A first-time offence under this section carries a maximum of 6 penalty units, while a subsequent offence attracts a punishment not exceeding 12 penalty units.

    However, before the court can convict a person for carelessly driving a motor vehicle or a vehicle, the prosecution will need to show that:

    • The defendant operated a motor vehicle or a vehicle.
    • The accused drove the motor vehicle or vehicle on a highway.
    • The defendant operated the motor vehicle or vehicle carelessly.
    • The accused has no justifiable excuse for driving recklessly.

    #2. Improper Use of Motor Vehicle

    Section 65A of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) establishes that it is an offence for a person to operate a motor vehicle in a way that causes the motor vehicle to lose traction, whether in one or more of its wheels. Committing this offence carries a maximum of 5 penalty units.

    Nevertheless, for the court to decide that the defendant is guilty of improper use of motor vehicle, the prosecution will need to prove the following:

    • The defendant drove a motor vehicle.
    • The accused intentionally caused one or more of the vehicle's wheels to lose traction.
    • The defendant has no legal excuse for committing the crime of improper use of a motor vehicle.

    #3. Speed Trials

    Section 68 of the Road Traffic Act 1986 (Vic) states that a person can be guilty of an offence if:

    • The individual uses a motor vehicle for racing or speed trials.
    • A person in charge of a motor vehicle allows another individual to use their motor vehicle for racing or speed trials.

    An offender under this section is liable to 8 penalty units, while a repeat offender may receive 15 penalty units. However, convicting a person for an offence in this section requires that the prosecution establish that:

    • The defendant drove the motor vehicle or was the person in charge of the motor vehicle.
    • The Accused permitted another individual to use their vehicle in racing/speed trials, or the accused used the vehicle for racing or speed trials.
    • The accused has no means of justifying their actions.

    Furthermore, Section 68(2) makes it an offence for a person or group to promote, organise, or conduct a racing competition or speed trial on a highway. The punishment for this offence is 8 penalty units, while a subsequent offence attracts 15 penalty units.

    #4. Dangerous Driving While Pursued by the Police

    Section 319AA of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) states that it is an offence for an individual to drive a motor vehicle negligently or dangerously if they know that a police officer has given them a direction to stop the vehicle and the officer is chasing after them.

    Committing an offence in this section carries a penalty of 3 years imprisonment. However, before the court can give this penalty, the prosecution will need to convince the court beyond all reasonable doubt that:

    • The defendant drove a motor vehicle.
    • The accused was aware or ought to be aware of the instruction given by the police to stop the vehicle.
    • Knowing that a police officer was after them, the defendant refused to stop the vehicle and instead drove dangerously or negligently to get away from the police.

    What the Police Can Do

    If a police officer suspects that a person has committed any offence categorised as hooning, they have the right to either impound or immobilise the suspect's vehicle.

    Impounding a vehicle involves a police officer moving the vehicle to a secure location for a particular period.

    In the case of immobilisation, this happens when a police officer uses a device such as a wheel clamp or a steering wheel lock to make the vehicle undrivable.

    The Court that Handles Trials for Hooning Offences in Victoria

    In Victoria, the Magistrates Court Conducts most of the trials for hooning offences.

    Possible Defences

    There are certain defences that an accused can raise to challenge a hooning offence. Some of these defences are:


    #1. The Defendant Has a Permit

    If a defendant faces charges for racing or speed trials, they may not be guilty of an offence if they can present a permit to the court.

    Usually, motoring organisations obtain this permit, consequently allowing them to conduct events that include racing and speed trials.


    #2. The Accused Unintentionally Committed the Crime

    An accused might have a defence if they committed a hooning offence unintentionally. For instance, a defendant could claim that they did not intentionally cause a motor vehicle to lose traction but resulted from a mechanical fault.


    #3. Necessity

    The defence of necessity is applicable when the defendant had to commit a hooning offence to prevent a terrible occurrence.

    Bottom Line

    Understanding the legislation regarding hooning can help a person avoid breaking the law and facing different penalties. However, if a person faces charges for hooning, they have the right to reach out to a legal practitioner who can represent their best interest.

    Will a Hooning Offence in Victoria (Vic) show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a hooning offence in Victoria (Vic), 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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