Crushing vehicles used by hoons or in crimes is one new police power being considered under a planned review into road penalties.
The ACT Government has begun its examination of the road penalties framework, a commitment under the ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023.
Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said it would ensure current legislated penalties were in proportion with the road safety risks associated with “a range of criminal behaviour” on Canberra’s roads.
“The review will consider the whole hierarchy of offences that apply under the Road Transport legislation, whether the penalties are appropriate and proportionate or if we should provide a broader range of penalties,” he said.
“The penalties that will be considered include driver licence suspensions and disqualifications, court fines, imprisonment, infringement notice penalties, and seizure and impounding of vehicles.”
Penalties and charges for dangerous driving would particularly be examined in the broad review of road offences. These include racing and speeding, furious, reckless or dangerous driving, menacing driving offences and culpable driving under the Crimes Act.
Minister Steel said the review would specifically consider the current aggravated driving penalties (which already included driving at a speed of more than 30 per cent of the posted speed limit) and if higher penalties should apply for more excessive speeds.
“The review will also specifically look at the laws on the seizure, impounding and forfeiture of vehicles and whether the ACT’s current penalties should be extended or include new powers for certain driving offences as a deterrent to dangerous driving, including crushing or selling a vehicle used in the commission of a crime,” he said.
Other jurisdictions already have such laws, including Victoria and Queensland.
Victoria introduced anti-hoon laws in 2006 which gave police the power to impound, immobilise or permanently confiscate vehicles driven by people “in a dangerous manner”.
A person found guilty of three hoon-related offences in three years would permanently forfeit their vehicle to police, who could then sell it on or have it crushed.
The laws applied whether the driver was the owner of the vehicle or not.
An ACT Policing spokesperson said dangerous driving, excessive speeding and general hoon behaviours remained a problem for the Territory.
“Unfortunately there are some drivers who repeatedly choose to do the wrong thing. Those choices can lead to serious injury or death, of not only themselves, but passers-by,” the spokesperson said.
“Each and every time there is a major collision in the ACT, there are victims, witnesses, responders, hospital staff, road crews and plenty more people who are affected for significant periods of time.
“While we believe strengthening criminal penalties is effective in curbing illegal behaviour, it is only one part of the puzzle.”
The spokesperson said police would also be providing an “extensive submission” to a separate committee inquiry into dangerous driving in the Territory.
Canberra police currently have the power to seize the vehicles of drivers accused of street racing, speed trials, burnouts or menacing driving for up to 90 days for a first offence.
If a driver is caught again, their vehicle can be seized and forfeited if ordered by the court.