In brief - Vehicles can be immobilised, impounded or forfeited for offences under new laws
Business owners need to be aware that under the new anti-hooning legislation passed in Queensland, vehicles can be taken off the road immediately and penalties increase for second and subsequent offences.
Offending driver not necessarily the owner of the vehicle
New anti-hooning and road safety legislation came into effect in Queensland on 1 November 2013, delivering the toughest vehicle impoundment laws in Australia. (See Police Powers And Responsibilities (Motor Vehicle Impoundment) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 No. 15.)
The new legislation can have far reaching consequences for owners of vehicles who are not necessarily the offending driver. Under the new legislation, vehicles can be impounded for seven or 90 days, depending on the type of offence committed by the driver that might trigger the impounding or immobilisation of a vehicle.
Range of penalties for Type 1 and Type 2 offences under anti-hoon laws
The offences range from being involved in street racing (Type 1) down to unlicensed driving, high range drink driving, exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour, driving a vehicle that is both uninsured and unregistered; and non-compliance with vehicle standards and safety regulations offences (Type 2).
The timeframes for impounding or immobilisation also depend on the type of offence, with Type 1 offences involving a 90 day vehicle impoundment for a first offence and the vehicle being forfeited for a second offence. For Type 2 offences, the first offence will result in a warning, but the length of impounding increases to seven days, 90 days and forfeiture for each subsequent offence.
The relevant period for the committing of the Type 1 or Type 2 offence is five years and the second and subsequent offences do not need to be the same type as the first offence.
Applications for early release of impounded vehicles
The only way to have your vehicle released before the expiration of the impound or immobilisation period is to apply to the Commissioner of Police for early release. The application can only be made in certain circumstances, such as severe hardship or the offence occurring without the owner's consent.
The Commissioner of Police (or its delegate) will have five business days to determine the Application for Early Release.
What should you do to protect your business and its vehicles?
Because the purpose of the legislation is to stop repeat offenders in their tracks by taking vehicles off the road immediately, this could have far reaching and immediate consequences for a business.
For this reason, it important that businesses:
• Take an active interest in the traffic history of drivers by undertaking regular traffic history checks
• Consult with employed and contract drivers regarding the refreshed safety management procedures to be reconfirmed
• Meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act (QLD)
• Ensure that all vehicles are operated safely and within traffic, weight and dimensions legal requirements at all times
• Conduct regular audits to ensure that the appropriate driver's license is held by employed or contract drivers
• Consult with employed and contract drivers to formalise the company policy that it is a condition of employment or work requirements that all drivers maintain a clean traffic history and notify the company immediately of any traffic infringements that may occur in any vehicle at any time
• Implement a company policy regarding safe driving practices and the consequences of having a vehicle be the subject of an impound or immobilisation notice
• Implement procedures in the event that a vehicle is the subject of an impound or immobilisation notice
• Formalise vehicle maintenance procedures to ensure that the vehicle fleet remains registered, insured and compliant with vehicle safety standards
This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2020.