Staffan Andersson

Surprise sting in hooning penalty

IT SEEMS many Sunshine Coast motorists remain clueless about the state's "unbalanced" tough new anti-hooning laws.

A Nambour tow truck company posted a warning on its website advising motorists that police were enforcing the nation's harshest anti-hooning legislation after it "went live" on November 1.

Under the new laws, the impound period increased from 48 hours to seven or 90 days.

"It appears offenders are shocked when they are told by police their vehicles will be impounded for 90 days for a first hoon offence," a Clayton Towing spokesperson said.

The new legislation was enacted based on a pre-election pledge from the LNP to introduce the country's toughest anti-hooning laws if elected.

At the time, the RACQ argued that the existing laws were adequate, given research showed the re-offending rate was very low.

But police said the laws needed to be stiffened to protect the public.

There are now two types of offences.

Type-one offences result in a 90-day impoundment at the owner's expense for things such as burnouts, racing and wilfully making unnecessary noise or smoke.

The vehicle will be forfeited for a second offence.

Type-two offences result in a seven-day impoundment for things such as driving a vehicle while uninsured and unregistered, unlicensed driving and non-compliance with vehicle and safety standards.

For type-two offences, vehicles will be impounded only for second offences.

They will be impounded for 90 days for a third offence and forfeited for a fourth offence.

The previous hooning laws were enacted in 2002.

RACQ senior road safety adviser Joel Tucker called the new legislation unbalanced.

He said the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety found that between 2002 and 2011 there were 5288 vehicles impounded for first-offence hooning.

The figure plummeted to 208 for a second offence, while only 19 were forfeited for a third offence.

"So we were under the impression that with such a low re-offending rate ... the old impoundment laws were working," Mr Tucker said.



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