Hooning is the common word we use for any anti-social behaviour conducted in a motor vehicle—a car, van or motorbike—such as speeding, street racing, burnouts and playing loud music from a car stereo.
Hooning includes any number of traffic offences, such as dangerous driving, careless driving, driving without reasonable consideration for other people, driving in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke, and racing or conducting speed trials on a public road.
Penalties for hooning
Penalties vary for different hooning offences. For example, driving in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke carries a maximum fine of 20 penalty units ($2611) while the most serious offences, such as careless driving—also known as driving without due care and attention—or street racing, carry a maximum fine of 40 penalty units ($5222) or 6 months in jail.
In addition, for specific offences classed as hooning—anti-social behaviour in a motor vehicle—police now have the power to impound, immobilise and confiscate the vehicle you were driving when you committed the offence.
Impounding, immobilisation and confiscation of vehicles
In addition to the penalties for any traffic offences you have committed, a 2002 amendment to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act gave Queensland police the power to impound and confiscate vehicles involved in hooning offences.
These ’anti-hooning laws’ as they are often known, have been repeatedly strengthened.
As part of the Queensland Government’s commitment to crack down on illegal street racing and hooning, new powers to impound, immobilise and confiscate vehicles came into effect on 1 November 2013.
Type 1 and type 2 hooning offences
Hooning offences are now classed as either a Type 1 or Type 2 offence. Each Type—group of offences—carries different impound, immobilisation and confiscation penalties.
Type 1 offences are:
- dangerous driving
- careless driving
- organising, promoting or taking part in racing and speed trials
- wilfully starting a motor vehicle or driving in way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke
- evading police.
Type 2 offences are:
- driving a vehicle that is uninsured and unregistered
- driving without a licence or when your licence has been suspended
- high range drink driving—with a blood alcohol level above 0.15%
- exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h
- driving a modified vehicle that does not comply with vehicle safety standards
- driving while under a 24 hour suspension order.
For both a Type 1 and a Type 2 offence—depending on the seriousness of the offence—you can be issued an infringement notice, a notice to appear in magistrates court or you may be arrested.
Impoundment and immobilisation
In addition to any infringement notice or court penalties, the vehicle you were driving when you were caught hooning may be impounded—placed in a holding yard—or immobilised for a period of time. Immobilisation involves the removal or confiscation of the vehicle’s number plates.
You do not have to be the vehicle’s owner; if you commit a hooning offence while you are driving any vehicle—including one owned by a friend or family member—it can be impounded or immobilised. Type 1 hooning offences
For the first Type 1 offence, the vehicle you were driving can be impounded or immobilised for 90 days. For the second offence the vehicle can be impounded and may be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you. Type 2 hooning offences
For the first Type 2 offence the vehicle you were driving will not be impounded or immobilised; however, for future offences it will be.
- second offence the vehicle will impoundment or immobilised for 7 days
- third offence the vehicle will impoundment or immobilised for 90 days
- fourth offence the vehicle will be impounded and may be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you.
Who pays if my car is impounded?
You do. If your vehicle is impounded you will have to pay for it to be towed to the impound lot and stored there. Depending on how long your vehicle is impounded this could be a substantial cost; particularly if you have to await the outcome of legal proceedings against you.
How do I get my number plates back?
Once the immobilisation period is over you will need to go to the property point stated on the immobilisation notice to reclaim your vehicle’s number plates. You must bring proof that you are the registered owner of the immobilised vehicle or write a letter authorising another person to collect the plates for you.
Applying for early release of your vehicle
You can make an application to the Commissioner of Police for the early release of your vehicle if you can prove that:
- not having your vehicle is causing you severe financial or physical hardship
- the cause of the offence has been corrected—for example, the vehicle has now been modified to comply with safety standards
- you are the vehicle owner and the offence happened without your consent
- the impoundment or immobilisation was unreasonable.
The application must be made to the Commissioner of Police through the Queensland Police early release of an impounded vehicle application form. You should also provide any documents that can back up your application.
Once all documentation has been received the police should be able to make a decision on your case within 5 working days. If your application is refused you can appeal through the magistrates courts. What is the status of my early release application?
You can call Policelink on 131 444 to find out the progress of your application. You will need to provide the vehicle registration, your name or Queensland Police (QP) number for this.
Confiscation of vehicles
For the second Type 1 hooning offence and the fourth Type 2 hooning offence your vehicle can be confiscated—taken off you permanently—at the end of any legal proceedings against you.
Confiscated vehicles are auctioned off by the government or crushed and sold as scrap metal.
Report hooning to the police
If you have an email address you can report a hoon online.
The Hoon Hotline
You can also report hoons by calling the Hoon Hotline on 13HOON (13 4666).
If possible you should tell the operator:
- what the vehicle is and looks like
- what hooning activity it was doing
- the registration plates
- the time and where the vehicle was.
This will help the police identify and stop the hoon.