Driving the message home
GYMPIE police yesterday welcomed news that serial hoons would feel the full force of the law following the introduction of Australia's toughest anti-hooning penalties to Queensland.
A regional breakdown of hooning offences and impounded cars this week revealed that 157 hoons were charged in the North Coast police region, which incorporates Gympie, in the last 12 months and 129 cars were impounded.
Officer-in-charge of the Gympie police station Senior Sergeant Graeme Reeves said the new laws were "very positive news for the Gympie community".
He said people were fed up with dangerous hooning on public roads and wanted the brakes put on the perpetrators.
"We receive a large number of complaints in relation to the unlawful activity of vehicles and this powerful legislation will be a big step in stamping out hoons from the area.
"People have had enough and a strong deterrent such as this legislation will go a long way to reducing these hoon offences in our town."
Drivers who commit two serious hooning offences will have their car confiscated indefinitely as part of changes to the Police Powers and Responsibilities (Motor Vehicle Impoundment) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012.
Police Minister Jack Dempsey said hooning such as racing and driving recklessly in the suburbs was not only socially unacceptable, it was outright dangerous and placed the lives of all road users at risk.
"In the past we have even seen hoons lose control of their vehicles before ploughing into yards and houses, injuring and, in some cases, taking the lives of innocent people," Mr Dempsey said.
"The community and the government were sick and tired of hoons and these new penalties will see their cars off the road for 90 days for the first offence, and confiscated and sold or crushed if they commit a second hooning offence within a five-year period."
The two strikes approach will apply to those committing Type 1 offences which include:
- Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle;
- Racing and speed trials on roads
- Wilfully starting a motor vehicle or driving a motor vehicle in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke;
- Evade police.
Mr Dempsey said the new laws would address frustration in the community which, under the previous government, continued to see hoons back on the road even after multiple offences.
"Under Labor more than 92% of vehicles previously impounded ended up back on the road," he said.
"We are telling the people of Queensland that the police now have the legislative tools to truly put the brakes on hoons. If there's a local hooning issue they should contact their local police station or the Hoon Hotline on 13HOON (13 46 66)."
While the hooning laws have now been passed through State Parliament, they won't come into effect for six months to allow sufficient time for logistics to be finalised and community education about the new penalties as requested by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee.