- New laws came into force July 1
- Apply to 23 offences
- Cars will be sold or crushed if fee not paid
South Australia’s new hoon laws will see alleged dangerous drivers’ cars crushed or sold if they fail to pay a fee of up to $1395 within 38 days.
Under July 1’s new rules, owners of impounded cars must pay $1195 for their vehicle to be returned within 28 days of it being seized. The cost will jump as high as $1395 if payment is not received within 38 days – after which SA Police can have the vehicle crushed or sold. The hardline new approach means a driver could have their car destroyed before even facing a conviction.
Until now, cars could be released to their owners without payment of the $1195 fee. The changes have also eliminated access to payment plans, meaning owners must now provide the money in a single sum.
In a July 1 statement, SA Road Safety Minister Vincent Tarzia said the payment plan option had been abused previously.
“In the past we have seen hoons go on payment plans for years on end, essentially fast-tracking the return of their vehicle after the impound period ends without paying the price,” he said.
“That is unacceptable, and it comes to an end today. Vehicles, if used irresponsibly, are weapons in the wrong hands and reckless road users need to be held to account.”
The car impound legislation can be applied to 23 offences in total, not all of which involve hoon driving. These include drink and drug driving, driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle, driving without a licence, speeding, and leaving the scene of an accident.
Under SA law, vehicles can be seized if a driver has been charged, arrested, or reported for any of the 23 offences. This means an owner who fails to pay the impound fee within 38 days could have their car crushed before even facing a conviction.
Speaking to ABC News, Law Society of SA President, Rebecca Sandford, expressed concern about the legislation’s consequences.
“Of course these offences should be subject to appropriate penalties, but this new regime applies disproportionately severe punishments to a range of different driving behaviours,” she said.
“The flow-on effects for a motorist who loses their car because they can’t summon $1135.50 within four weeks can be disastrous, especially for a low-income earner who relies on their car for work, including to earn money to pay the fine, or family duties.”
But Minister Tarzia said the new laws have been put in place to “stamp out” dangerous road behaviour.
“This is a road safety plea – and warning – for all motorists to do the right thing. Follow the rules and you have nothing to worry about.”
Tougher hooning laws were introduced in South Australia in 2010, which granted police powers to impound cars for 28 days instead of the previous seven, among other extensions.